South Sudan: The Epitome of Irony

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South Sudan, since July 201, the newest independent country in the world, is an epitome of irony; and the leaders of the country are increasingly doing all within their powers to maintain that infamous status quo.

Once upon a time, the Southern part of Sudan, habited by a majority Christian population of about 12 million, complained discriminated, marginalized and mistreated by the predominately Muslims (North) Sudan. While centuries of exploitation and slave-raiding by the “Arab” north against the “African” south, as well as Britain and Egypt’s imperialist blueprints might account for the South Sudanese’s alleged mistreatment in the hands of North Sudan, race, religion, economic exploitation, and colonialism fuelled the crisis that gave birth to South Sudanese autonomy and later independence.

The First Sudanese Civil War, which lasted from 1955 to 1972 took the lives of half a million people. Following the 17 years of war, the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was formed in 1972 and lasted until 1983. A second Sudanese civil war, which started from 1983 till 2005, claimed more than two and a half million people and displaced nearly six million South Sudanese. The war equally devastated the infrastructures of South Sudan and created a sense of hopelessness. Soon the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005. Following the agreement and the formation of an Autonomous Government of Southern Sudan, the autonomy of South Sudan was restored. On 9 July 2011 a referendum was passed, with a historic 98.83% of the vote, South Sudan became an independent state. The independence was received with jubilation and hope by South Sudanese, who were happy and looking forward to taking control of their destiny and creating a better, progressive and peaceful South Sudan, different from the previous war-torn marriage with North Sudan. With the enormous abundance of oil, South Sudan is blessed; and with committed leadership, the new country would be the giant of Africa in terms of oil reserve, many believed. But that dream was quickly shattered.

Soon after the independence, South Sudan descended into anarchy and a power struggle amongst its main ethnic tribes. Ironically, the enemy is no more the Arab dominated North Sudan. No, the enemy is amongst the Southern Sudanese. This time, the same South Sudanese that fought against North Sudan turned their guns on themselves, killing each other and inflicting more harm to themselves than what they experienced at the hands of North Sudan. Tribal politics took over and tribalism became a norm in the newly independent South Sudan. With the country’s army and government, predominately controlled by the Dinka tribe ( 35.8%), followed by the Nuer (15.6%) and other tribes such as  Azande, Shilluk, Bari, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Kakwa, Didinga, Ndogo, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Bviri, Dungotona, Acholi, Baka, Fertit, according to the 2011 estimate, the desire for tribal control and dominance in the new South Sudan has become a time bomb. It is this dangerous weapon that is about to destroy the fabric of the newly independent country.

The new civil war, which has claimed millions of lives and made millions homeless and refugees has resulted in rapes, torture, and many war crime atrocities including genocides. Efforts by the international community to bring the war to an end has been terribly frustrated by the leaders of South Sudan, who seem not to be in a hurry to stop the senseless killings, destruction, and devastation.

Recently, a court in South Sudan has sentenced William John Endley a former South African colonel to death by hanging. According to the verdict, William John Endley, a former adviser to the South Sudanese rebel leader and former Vice-President Riek Machar, was sentenced for “conspiring against President Salva Kiir’s government.” Even though the lawyer of Mr.  Endley, who was arrested in August 2016, vowed to appeal the sentencing, the verdict shows the complicity of the South Sudanese crises

Many efforts to bring the warring parties to the table has produced little or no success with many ceased fires broken by the government troops and the oppositions alike. According to the agreement reached by the government and oppositions, South Sudan’s government, in collaboration with the African Union, must create a court to try the perpetrators of the atrocities and hold them accountable for their actions. It is strongly believed that many high profile South Sudanese leaders, including military generals and state governors, may be culprits of gross human rights abuses, including murder, rape, torture, recruitment of child soldiers and genocide in South Sudan. Unfortunately, the government of Salva Kiir has failed to take steps to achieve this legal goal and moral obligation. Many have accused the government in Jebba of effectively shielding the war criminals from prosecution.

Now that the Sudanese government has refused to set up the court or bring the perpetrators of the heinous crime to book, the UNO is seriously looking into the crimes in South Sudan with the aim of punishing those behind the atrocities.

Sadly, South Sudan has ingloriously shown that human beings are a bunch of ironies. The same group of people that had once accused North Sudan government of atrocities, mistreatment, discrimination against them, are, in fact, and ironically, carrying out the worse injustice to themselves, blinded by the tribal consciousness. Blessed with oil and other national resources, do South Sudanese have any reason to blame outsiders for their poverty, mismanagement, lack of social services and the war in their country? What an irony that an average South Sudanese has not seen this obvious reality and called their leaders to order as well as held them responsible for all the crimes – political, social, economic etc – they have been committing against the innocent South Sudanese!