New Country For Africa: South Sudan

Feb 13, 2011 By Arati Rao
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A new country has been conceived by its people and will be born on July 9, 2011. Sudan, the largest country in Africa is to be two countries. The referendum (vote), held on January 9, 2011 was the deciding factor and the people have spoken unanimously – 99% of them voted to separate from Northern Sudan and chart their own course, as South Sudan (this is the proposed new name).

All is not rosy for South Sudan

The US, the United Nations and countries around the world will recognize the new country in July this year. And South Sudan has its work cut out for it. Years of civil war and neglect by the North, has left it as one of the poorest in Africa. It is, however, resource-rich and that could be a boon or a curse, depending on how South Sudan decides to - or is able to - manage it.

The main issues facing the new country will be sharing of the oil fields which sit right on the border with the North, the demarcation of the border itself and the disputed region of Abeyei. After July 9, 2011, South Sudan will have its own interim government led most likely by Salva Kiir, who is the new current President of South Sudan. The interim government will have to draft the constitution of the young country and then likely elections will be held.

The threat of violence

Given the dismal state of public services in South Sudan, Salva Kiir will have to put fresh programs in place to address basic education, health, sanitation and access to drinking water. Moreover, while the North is predominantly Arab, South Sudan is made up of many tribes – animist and Christian – and Kiir could find himself in a very tough job of keeping the peace between them.

Last week, for example, a rebel leader George Athor clashed with the South Sudan army in a surprise uprising, which ignored the ceasefire that had been declared. His reason was that he had been cheated out of becoming governor of the Jonglei province.  Over a hundred people were killed, many of them civilians. Clashes and violence like this could erupt in the volatile region anytime.

What can be

What South Sudan has going for it, is that it is resource rich and full of lush grasslands, forest and natural beauty. It is said to have animals and migrations that rival and even surpass the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The world has not seen it before and it could be a spectacular attraction. South Sudan could, if it manages its affairs right, could attract tourists, nature lovers and business. If it use its mineral and oil resources carefully, it could make itself rich and sustainable.