South Sudan is the world’s youngest country since it gained its independence seven years ago from neighbouring Sudan on July 9, 2011, after a 2005 agreement to end the longest-running civil war that started since 1962.
The independence of the black South Sudanese indigenes indeed ended the civil war with the Arab Sudanese overlords, but started another inter-ethnic and inter-factional civil war based on greed and paranoia among the black Africans.
Oil-rich South Sudan is the only country where rebels are leading the state with the cowboy hat wearing president Salva Kiir leading the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) faction while his Vice President Riek Machar – whom he had fired twice – leads the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Opposition (SPLM-IO) rival faction.
They fought primarily along ethnic lines between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer tribal groups. These two armed rebel groups have caused the displacement of over 4 million citizens since independence and caused the death of over a million as they fought each other since 2013 using kidnapped children to fight their battles.
The powerful rebel groups were not dissolved after they successfully fought for independence, they rather gained more authority with impunity as out-of-control soldiers boldly raped women, raided communities and recruited child soldiers to stay formidable.
The 2013 resumption of the civil war followed accusations by Salva Kiir that his Vice President Riek Machar was plotting to overthrow him. He dissolved the cabinet, sacked Machar and another deadly war erupted. The factions targeted oil-mining communities and killed civilians.
There were many unsuccessful ceasefire agreements brokered by Uganda and Ethiopia while the fighting continued until 2016 when the Vice President was reinstated briefly between April and July.
Machar went back into exile and the fighting intensified as over a million civilians entered into Uganda while foreign missions and companies exited the country. This caused a strain on the government as the economy collapsed and famine ravaged the country.
Some hope was restored in 2017 after the government declared a unilateral ceasefire and launched a national dialogue inclusive of the rival rebel factions in the country. Riek Machar, who was in self-exile in South Africa, refused to be a part of the dialogue after delegations were sent to him.
Fast-forward to July 2018, Kiir and Machar have agreed for a third time to a power-sharing deal that will ensure the reinstatement of Riek Machar as a Vice President and his return to the capital of Juba.
Even if peace is restored permanently, the country has a long way to go in terms of solving the major problem of child soldiers, lack of media freedom, unstable electricity, food shortages and economic instability.
South Sudan can be more peaceful as the rest of Africa and start developing the country to compete with the rest of the world. The civil wars need to end after years of diplomatic interventions and unnecessary killings. It is time for South Sudan to stop being an embarrassment to Africa.
This article written by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com