Tears of Joy: Future and Challenges of South Sudan

Published July 23, 2011

Tears of Joy: Future and Challenges of South Sudan

July 23rd, 2011 at 1:44 pm

By Michael Ayuen Kuany, USA (Borglobe)

The time for the important work is now, not tomorrow or the next day. The hopes of our citizens and the eyes of the world are upon us. On Saturday July 9th, 2011, a new nation was born, the Republic of South Sudan. As the 193rd nation, it has joined the global community. There are many things that brought about South Sudan’s break from Sudan – a lack of political will, irresponsible governance based on Islamic fundamentalist laws, unequal distribution of resources, religious persecution, and cultural coercion of which the forcing of the Arabic language on the black African communities is but one example.
This article examines the post-independence era of this new nation, the challenges facing it and reflections based on firsthand experiences while in South Sudan for six months. The article also examined the role of the Republic of South Sudan in global politics.

South Sudan and Independence
The Republic of South Sudan gained her independence on July 9, 2011 from the government of Sudan whose main goal was to serve the interests and well-being of mainly Muslim Arabs in the north. South Sudan is a land locked country rich in oil, agricultural production, wildlife and many unprocessed minerals and yet the people of South Sudan have rarely benefited from these resources. African’s longest war ended 6 years ago when both North and South Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending a 21-year civil war which claimed over two millions lives and four million more individuals finding refuge in displacement camps in neighboring Africans countries. Many refugees applied for asylum in western countries in hopes of obtaining proper education and some security in their lives. As stipulated in the CPA regulations, a peaceful referendum was to be held in January of 2011 for the South Sudanese to decide whether they wanted to separate from Sudan. In the 6 years between the signing of the CPA and the referendum, Sudan’s government in Khartoum had a chance to win the hearts and minds of the South Sudanese by adhering to all of the provisions of the CPA and by helping in development projects in the south. Unfortunately, Khartoum failed to make unity attractive.
98.3 percent of the populace of south Sudan voted for independence from the north in the January referendum. Unity was not an option for people in the south after the north’s long history of broken promises. It was a long journey, but on July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was born.

Recognition of South Sudan
In July, representatives from around the world came to Juba, the capital of South Sudan to witness historical celebrations of this new country’s independence and to congratulate the people of South Sudan for their achievements. The United Nations Security Council convened in New York for a full recognition of South Sudan as a country and to welcome her to the community of nations. At the session, the representatives of South Sudan agreed to the terms of the UN and promised to abide by its provisions. South Sudan’s flag is flying in the sky at the UN headquarters in New York. Please welcome the Republic of South Sudan to the global community!
Thanks be to God that the Promised Land has been reached in glory. Getting to this place in history is a great joy.
However, the realization of this day was brought about by the many struggles and sacrifices of its peoples. We, the people of this great nation must stand up and unite behind our Joshua of South Sudan, President Salva Kiir Mayardit for he has dedicated his life to lead our country out of injustice to freedom. We are blessed with many resources and need to make sure they are used wisely and equally. The United States’ former civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals” (Martin Luther King Jr). Sons and daughters of South Sudan shed their blood for us to be free and to be able to claim our rights.

External and Internal challenges
There are many challenges facing the new nation. Borders are not yet demarcated, national debts have not been agreed upon, citizenship of people who have lived in both north and South Sudan have not been worked out, and tariffs and charges for the oil to go through the north due to South Sudan’s being land locked have not been determined. A long term controversy over who owns the Abyei region continues to rage, as well.
Aside from struggles that still exist between the north and the south, corruption is a serious problem not just in the north but also in the south. Since the CPA was signed in 2005, individuals have been employed in the south not on the basis of competency but through family connections. Many employees in government offices are incompetents in keeping up with the 21 century technology. Most of the private secretaries in the government offices are from Uganda and Kenya. There are individuals in the south qualified to do these jobs but south Sudanese government officials don’t want their corruption to be exposed and feel it is more likely to be exposed if their own people were their employees. Other challenges facing this new nation involve insurgencies fighting against the government and tribal conflicts. Two senior generals defected from the South Sudan national army (SPLA) declaring a war against the new government. Thankfully, the President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit granted them safe return without charges brought against them. This shows an effort on President Kiir’s part to settle peacefully the conflicts that have already arisen within this new country. President Kiir told George Athor Deng, Peter Gatdet and Galuak Gai to return home, that they were needed and that it was important to put aside differences at this crucial time in our new country.

Peaceful coexistence with neighbors is vital for this new nation’s national and economic security. In order for South Sudan to prove and legitimize herself in the global world, it must broaden its diplomatic agendas and channels. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, diplomacy is defined as “the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/). Diplomacy is the best tool for building trust between individuals and nations. South Sudan’s civil society, grassroots organizations and community organizations must be empowered to be the central force in the nation’s diplomacy at the national levels. As citizens, we must unite under our national identity and put aside our tribal differences.

South Sudan in the World
The Republic of South Sudan can be a successful global economic partner considering its wealth of resources and it can be a partner in helping stem the tide of terrorism using its experiences with war and peace.
The government of South Sudan needs to conduct intensive evaluations of each ministry’s performance and rid the new country of corruption on all fronts. The rule of law must be the central judge and police for all people in our beloved South Sudan regardless of one’s status. The government should employ more young people and women who are qualified. In order for South Sudan to become a player in the world economy, new ideas and up to date technology must be encouraged.

Free at last! Free at last! (Martin Luther King).

Michael Ayuen Kuany holds a masters degree (MA) from Eastern Mennonite University and a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin. He is the founder, president and CEO of Rebuild South Sudan. He can be reached at: michael@rebuildsouthsudan.org

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