A Failure of Leadership in South Sudan

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Women and children carry water in Minkammen on 01/08/14. Unrest began on 12/15/13 as a clash between army units loyal to South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and those loyal to ex-VP Riek Machar. (Nichole Sobecki/AFP/Getty)

Three years ago this month, the South Sudanese people held a referendum and voted overwhelmingly for independence from the rest of Sudan. The referendum was the result of a historic peace agreement that the United States helped negotiate, which ended more than 20 years of brutal conflict between north and south of Sudan.

The 2011 vote for independence brought people together and the new African nation of South Sudan was born but, according to Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, from early on there was an appearance of unity that in reality “masked many unhealed wounds.”

He says, it’s these wounds that are now threatening to break South Sudan apart because of the longstanding divisions between South Sudan's Dinka and Nuer tribes.

More than 1,000 people have been killed in violence that erupted in the country last month, following a power struggle between President Salva Kiir, who is ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy, Riek Machar, who is Nuer.

The Takeaway talks with de Waal about the roots of the crisis, the possible lessons that could be learned from South Africa’s experience with reconciliation, and what he believes the leaders of South Sudan should do to secure lasting peace.

Deb Dawson, of Fargo, North Dakota also weighs in. Dawson works closely with Sudanese Lost Boys and Lost Girls both in the U.S. and abroad. She is the founder and Board President of the African Soul, American Heart School for Orphaned Girls in Duk Payuel, South Sudan.

Guests:

Deb Dawson and Alex de Waal

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja, Kristen Meinzer and Elizabeth Ross

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [3]

Asim Elhag from Sudan/Khartoum

Prof Alex give the right picture about what is happening in S.Sudan and he Knew the a lot about the complicated of the struggle there, But I would like to add my opinion about this ongoing conflict in S.Sudan, in brief What is happening in the South Sudan 's State since December 15, 2013, it is a tribal conflict over power and wealth, however each of warring faction makes it a recipe as political conflict , this conflict between Dr. Riek Machar the former Vice President of the government of South Sudan and President Silva Kiir expresses the existence of personal struggle sharply between both of them over power and leadership, both since the beginning of this conflict rely on their tribes and internal allies in order to support their goals, it is worth mentioning that during the war between Sudanese People Liberation Movement (SPLA/M) and the central government in Sudan there was ethnic dimension plays an important role in the political conflicts within the (SPLM/A), this is led in the past to conflict between the two factions of the SPLM (Dr. Garang Group and Dr. Riek Machar Group) when Dr. Riek Machar form Nassir Group and defected from the SPLA in early 1990 of the last century, this led to grinding tribal war raging at that time between Dinka tribe supporters of Dr. John Garang and the Nuer tribe supporters of Dr. Riek Machar
Asim Elhag
Researcher & Strategic Expert in African Affairs

Jan. 10 2014 09:48 AM
Asim Elhag from Sudan/Khartoum

Prof Alex give the right picture about what is happening in S.Sudan and he Knew the a lot about the complicated of the struggle there, But I would like to add my opinion about this ongoing conflict in S.Sudan, in brief What is happening in the South Sudan 's State since December 15, 2013, it is a tribal conflict over power and wealth, however each of warring faction makes it a recipe as political conflict , this conflict between Dr. Riek Machar the former Vice President of the government of South Sudan and President Silva Kiir expresses the existence of personal struggle sharply between both of them over power and leadership, both since the beginning of this conflict rely on their tribes and internal allies in order to support their goals, it is worth mentioning that during the war between Sudanese People Liberation Movement (SPLA/M) and the central government in Sudan there was ethnic dimension plays an important role in the political conflicts within the (SPLM/A), this is led in the past to conflict between the two factions of the SPLM (Dr. Garang Group and Dr. Riek Machar Group) when Dr. Riek Machar form Nassir Group and defected from the SPLA in early 1990 of the last century, this led to grinding tribal war raging at that time between Dinka tribe supporters of Dr. John Garang and the Nuer tribe supporters of Dr. Riek Machar
Asim Elhag
Researcher & Strategic Expert in African Affairs

Jan. 10 2014 09:46 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

People will kill each other till they can't take it anymore. Someone has to attack, and someone has to be big enough to not counter attack, no matter how much they want to.

Jan. 09 2014 11:42 AM

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