Internal Crisis Threatens South Sudan

Jan 6, 2014 By Anita R
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It is the baby among nations, being born on July 9, 2011 - We are talking of South Sudan.

It was a story of hard-won independence that heralded the birth of the 54th African nation and the world’s 195th country. But, an internal conflict is now threatening to destabilize this African nation.

What began as a conflict of power between two rebel leaders who have been bitter enemies, has now turned out to be a full bodied ethnic war, has displaced many citizens and is fast escalating into a civil war.

Escalation Of The Crisis

The recent conflict began when President Salva Kiir belonging to the Dinka tribe accused ex-Vice President Riek Machar belonging to the Nuer tribe, of a coup attempt to overthrow his government. Dinka and Nuer are the two largest ethnic tribes in South Sudan. Earlier in July this year, Kiir had sacked Machar from his Vice-Presidential duties on charges of corruption.

Conflict between the tribes is nothing new. Disagreements between them go back a long way to before the country's liberation struggle. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the force that led South Sudan's separation from Sudan, had included both Kiir and Machar. However both men have had a track record of shifting alliances and betrayals. 

In latest developments, mass killings and other violence over the past two weeks have caused over 200,000 innocent civilians to be displaced. They are seeking shelter and protection from U.N. forces in Juba, the capital, and in other South Sudan cities.

Where Is South Sudan?

South Sudan is a landlocked country with a population of 11 million people in central Africa, bordered by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The country's largely ethnic and Christian population had fought for separation from the North because of isolation and persecution. 

95% of South Sudan's economy is driven by oil. However, it is one of the most impoverished economies in Africa and has made little progress since its independence. Internal conflicts have sapped the country of direction. 

Meanwhile mediation talks are underway in Ethiopia to resolve the current conflict. Both sides are trying for cease fire as a first step. However, progress has been slow and fighting continues to rage throughout the country. In order to safeguard lives of its citizens, foreign countries have evacuated many of their nationals.

Will the citizens of South Sudan get to savor their independence soon? Everybody is concerned.

Courtesy: CNN, BBC