South Sudan: The Conundrum of a Long-running Social Conflict

The crisis in South Sudan began in December 2013 as a result of political discontent between President Salva Kiir and his then-vice president, Riek Machar. The civil war in South Sudan dates back to 1955, when Sudan was engulfed in a deadly civil war that culminated in the country’s independence from the Anglo-Egyptian administrations in 1956. When South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a referendum in which more than 98 percent of the population voted in favour of separation, the country became a case study for possible African secessions. The joy of freedom, however, faded swiftly, and was quickly replaced by brutal warfare. As a result, the study looked at the key reasons of the conflict and came to the conclusion that political discontent stemming from elite power struggles drove the violence. Furthermore, the report claims that blaming race as the root of the conflict is both deceptive and misguided. Instead of being the spark for violence, the current crisis in South Sudan has reignited ethnic identities and ideologies to unprecedented levels. The unreasonable ambition for political power and control among the country’s upper echelons has sparked a fresh surge of ethnic resentment in South Sudan. Although ethnicity is not considered to be the primary cause of the conflict, the study concludes that any viable solution to the conflict must provide incentives for fair ethnic and inter-ethnic representation and coalitions, given that the current situation has invigorated ethnic identities and sentiments in the country.

Author (S) Details

Timothy T. Kulang
Kampala International University, Kampala, Box 20000, Ggaba Road, Kansanga Kampala, Uganda.

Chidiebere C. Ogbonna
Department of Development, Peace and Conflict, Kampala International University, P.O.Box 20000, Kampala, Ugnada.

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