South Sudan celebrates 10th anniversary of independence-but few rejoice | Conflict News
Friday marked the 10th anniversary of South Sudan’s independence as the youngest country in the world-but few citizens were happy about it.
In the past 10 years, this oil-rich country has been in a quagmire. struggle Caused nearly 400,000 deaths, deeply rooted corruption And worse Humanitarian crisis, And a Fragile peace agreement Hang on a wire.
Joshua Craze, a researcher at the London School of Economics who has been working in South Sudan since 2008, said: “After 10 years of independence, the people of South Sudan have nothing to celebrate.” The country is only for South Sudan. The elite provide services and they have established a foothold in other parts of the country,” he added.
People had high hopes in 2011. After decades of war with the North, the South voted to leave by an overwhelming majority. The former rebel leader Salva Kiir was sworn in as the first president of South Sudan, and another rebel leader Rick Machar served as the vice president. Many South Sudanese who fled returned, and the international community invested millions of dollars to support the new government.
“[There were] Cheers, celebrations, tears of joy, wailing of happiness,” local human rights lawyer Philips Anyang Ngong recalled. He participated in the independence celebration but was upset by what happened afterwards.
“We raised the flag, but what do we have [to] Today in 10 years? He asked. “Continue to suffer.” “
‘Give up hope’
Experts from South Sudan said that clear warning signs that deep-seated problems have not been resolved can be seen very early.
“When South Sudan gained independence, it received a lot of international support, but it was already at a disadvantage,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Nyagoah Tut Pur. “The country has inherited the legacy of war and underdevelopment from Sudan. The new government is also composed of former political enemies and militias who have no unified vision for the country. The process of integration in politics and security is worrying. National institutions and accountability systems have been Very weak.”
In fact, rifts within the ruling party escalated rapidly, and Kiir and Machar were vying for power. In July 2013, Kiir fired Machar and the entire cabinet, and a devastating civil war broke out five months later.
Attempts to quell the fighting were futile, countless ceasefires were broken, and the first power-sharing agreement between the Kiel government and Machar’s opposition in 2015 failed. In 2016, conflict broke out in the capital Juba again, extending the war to the south, and Machar was forced to flee the country on foot. The second peace agreement signed in 2018 was basically passed. Last year, the warring parties formed a coalition government—Kiel and Machar tried to manage the country for the third time.
However, although the large-scale fighting has subsided, inter-clan conflicts continue, and key parts of the agreement have not been implemented, especially the unified national army that unites the opposition and government forces.
Thousands of soldiers are waiting for training or graduation in the camp, and there is a minority in the party of Kiel and Machar.
In March, Daniel Awet Akot, former presidential adviser visit Kiir stepped down and several senior soldiers defected from Machar’s camp. Party members questioned his commitment to the peace agreement because he ignored them by not visiting troops and communities outside the capital.
The opposition urged its supporters not to “give up hope” under Machar’s leadership and accused Kiir’s ruling party of lack of political will. This “significantly” led to the slow implementation of the peace agreement. Information Director Puok Both Baluang Machar’s The acting press secretary told Al Jazeera.
The government did not respond to Al Jazeera’s multiple requests for comment.
A “peaceful South Sudan”
Conflict analysts say that if there is no clear progress, disappointment and lack of trust in the government will exacerbate and encourage violence.
“The longer this uncertainty lasts, the more difficult it is to get rid of the conflict model rooted in decades, but it has found new life in independent countries. Although we hope we have passed the worst, But this seems to be far from certain,” said Mark Miller, a policy analyst at the South Sudan Norwegian Refugee Committee.
According to the July internal security report for aid workers seen by Al Jazeera, although the pace of fighting has slowed down in recent years, the level of conflict has “exponentially increased” since 2018, and incidents have become more frequent and frequent.
Last month, South Sudan’s new UN Secretary-General Nicholas Haysom told the Security Council that there is “general insecurity” and that more than 80% of civilian casualties this year are caused by inter-ethnic violence. He said aid workers have become increasingly targeted, four humanitarians have been killed, and millions of dollars worth of supplies have been looted or destroyed. He said that Haysom urged the government to “inject new vitality into the peace process” and fully implement the agreement that will eventually lead to the election.
The poll is scheduled to be held in 2023, but according to a December report from the country’s National Dialogue Steering Committee, many South Sudanese who have had enough have asked the two leaders to resign before then. This is a collection of opinions from civilians across the country. Initiative.
Although the peace process is limping, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating.
According to the United Nations, more than 8 million people depend on aid. Food safety experts say that about 30,000 people may be in a state of famine (PDF), there are still thousands of people still taking refuge in displaced persons resettlement sites across the country, and they dare not go home.
“The government has not been able to fulfill its obligation to provide basic services and health care. This situation is exacerbated by the chronic lack of state investment,” said Tila Muhammad, the mission leader of Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) ) Say.
“As of 2018, only 2.11% of South Sudan’s government spending was on health services, which is one of the lowest percentages in the world,” Mohamed added.
“Less than half of the population-less than a third of the displaced people-live within 5 kilometers [3 miles] Functional sanitation facilities. “
As the country enters its second decade, observers say that donors need to modify their aid methods and hold South Sudan’s leaders accountable, rather than continue to invest funds to support a government that invests little in its own people.
“The international community pays more attention to the challenge of achieving independence rather than building a new country. This has caused harm to the people of South Sudan. We use the government’s young people as an excuse to let bad behavior slip away and develop bad habits, and our continuous support makes it It is possible,” said Elizabeth Shackleford, a former US diplomat and senior researcher on US foreign policy who worked in South Sudan when the war broke out. At the Chicago Council of Global Affairs.
She said that in the absence of real signs of concrete progress in implementing the peace agreement, international partners should not continue to support the government because it is civilians who are suffering.
However, some citizens said that the reform was too late and they regretted the choice ten years ago.
“If we have a chance to vote again, I think many of us [would] vote [to stay united with Sudan],” said Gatwick, a local who lives in the UN protection camp in the north. Al Jazeera only uses his name to protect his identity.
“this is not [the] I voted for South Sudan.I vote for [a] Peaceful South Sudan is not [a country] Torn,” he said.