The Volcano beneath South Sudan

Post date: May 09, 2011 8:15:50 PM

(SACRIR Desk: Social Dev & Geopolitics)

Reproduced from the Morung Express (Ref.)

- By A Chattopadhyay, SACRIR

The referendum for independence of South Sudan concluded on January 15th. The popular mandate catapulted a collective dream toward the much awaited freedom, off the yoke of a presumptively terrorist state Sudan. The referendum came exactly five years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was accorded in 2005 between a cornered Government of Sudan and South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement. A majority on this planet joins the South Sudanese people in their moment to rejoice.

South Sudan’s sovereignty is mere a matter of time. People who fled to distant shores in search of peace are now ecstatic of a peaceful future in their homeland. More than 2000 families have started returning back to the swampy tracts of the White Nile. But the question pops up, can South Sudan ensure, rather sustain peace? A former Sudanese diplomat to Japan, Mr. Steven Wöndu aptly suggested on the Sudan Tribune few days back, to rename free South Sudan as the Nile Republic, dissociating it from the ominous tag of Sudan. Not only that, it might be an inclusive name for the youngest country of the world that also raises hundreds of ethnic communities. Well, the nomenclature may initiate positive vibes but cannot resolve anything beyond that. South Sudan is lying almost on the crater of a volcano of risks, and it is now the most difficult task on the part of its administrators and leaders to bring the country on real plains of peace. Let us summarize few of the biggest issues South Sudan is likely to face as soon as it keeps its first independent step. The country, as it is high time we start calling it to be, comprises of composite clusters of ethnicity, and hence their respective aspirations, beliefs, customs, languages and the matter of highest concern, leaderships. Ethnic leaders might have sung in unison in their long chorus for independence against Khartoum, but history often has proven the bitter reality of chaos when there were the greater needs of integration. New government at Juba has to ensure equal opportunity, democratic representation of all ethnic sects.

Southern Sudan shares its borders with Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Congo. Each country poses a unique assortment of threats. Ethiopia’s political instability, insurgences and fast penetrating roots of Islamist terrorism are poised to be the greatest challenges to South Sudan, all the more as the later is not an Islamic one. Congo’s rank in corruption index is not far from that of present-Sudan and despite all anti-corruption measures initiated by President Joseph Kabila, Congo continues to be one of the most corrupt countries of the world. South Sudan needs to struggle hard to get out of the quicksand of state endorsed corruption that both present-Sudan and Congo have sunk into.

Uganda and Kenya are economically more robust in this geography and hence thatch natural aspirations to explore the vast virgin natural resources of South Sudan. It’s richness in forests and minerals, specially oil and precious metals, is its asset as well as reason of being vulnerable, not only to relatively stronger neighbors but also to monstrously ambitious economies of remote horizons, like China.

For a nation that has long been under trauma of blood and mortar, establishing the constitutional law is going to be an uphill task for Juba leadership. And for understandable reasons, warlords must be kept out of governance and judicial apparatus. Experiences are bitter when military chieftains have gnawed into civil systems. The proposed state motto of ‘Justice, Equality, Dignity’ is not just something about coining three words but to enact and enforce.

The volcano is deep enough to exhaust, the drift is perilous. An age old Nilotic proverb says, ‘An empty stomach can make a man lose his cattle’. With poor human development indices, no nation can thrive longer, it merely exists. Investment must, therefore, be bulk on education, poverty eradication and employment. I believe progressive west and the UN bodies would assist the country with initial finances, but appetite needs to be grown in government to digest them uniformly and not let them consumed into few pockets. Both the largest democracies, the US and India have constructive role to the ascent of a vibrant, modern South Sudan. A blend of calibrated as well as liberal management of economy needs to work on both protecting indigenous industries and resources and also revenue generation for human development.

The volcano is active and will remain so, probably till mankind exists. The volcano has swallowed many civilizations and nations before. The world has blessed South Sudan in its charter of liberty. With the hope of peace and sovereignty, also arise dreams for a successful republic, on its journey away from possible reach of eruption.