Southern Sudan Achieves Long Awaited Sovereignty

Adanna Uwazurike July 09, 2011

Southern Sudan Achieves Long Awaited Sovereignty

It’s been a long time coming but Southern Sudan is finally it’s own country, formalizing its independence today, July 9, 2011. Civil war between the north and south broke out in 1955 and continued after Sudan became an independent nation in 1956. Sudan's succession of northern governments could not bring the conflict under control. Fighting continued until 1972, when the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) signed a peace agreement with the Nimeiry government. The peace was doomed from the start, because the foundation necessary for a pluralistic, democratic society was not there. Policies forcing the south to adopt Arab culture, Arab language, and the religion of Islam only intensified as Nimeiry strengthened Sudan's ties to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

      By 1991, things had not gotten any better. The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) split into factions. The south was virtually destroyed by the fighting that followed the split, but the SPLA survived. International intervention enabled both the armed resistance to the north and the peace talks to continue. By 1994, a significant grassroots peace movement began to emerge in the south. In 1996, several southern rebel factions signed a peace charter with the Government of Sudan. That charter, while never approved by the SPLA, became the basis for subsequent peace talks.

      At last, after almost half a century of fighting, Southern Sudan is set to secede and become the world’s newest nation. "The Republic of the Sudan announces its acknowledgement of the establishment of the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign state within the 1956 boundaries," announced Bakri Hassan Salih, minister for presidential affairs. However, reference to the 1956 borders has sparked some controversy because it put the contested region of Abeyi in the north. Recently, the disagreement over the Abeyi region has caused a conflict proving to be the new country’s first and biggest problem.

      In January a referendum was issued in which the Southern Sudanese people overwhelmingly voted for succession. The referendum to split was part of 2005 peace deal aimed at ending decades of violence between the north and south. Many details about the split are uncertain, however. There are no agreements on the borders, the oil, or even the status of their respective citizens. Nevertheless, it seems to be a step in the right direction for the nation, with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir planning to attend ceremonies in the nations capital Juba, a gesture of pragmatism and what his office is calling "a hope for brotherly relations".



Photo credit: The Independent

Last Edited by: Updated: June 19, 2018


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