ArticlePDF Available
African Studies Review
Additional services for African Studies Review:
Email alerts: Click here
Subscriptions: Click here
Commercial reprints: Click here
Terms of use : Click here
The Political Crisis in South Sudan
Douglas H. Johnson
African Studies Review / Volume 57 / Issue 03 / December 2014, pp 167 - 174
DOI: 10.1017/asr.2014.97, Published online: 02 December 2014
Link to this article:
How to cite this article:
Douglas H. Johnson (2014). The Political Crisis in South Sudan. African Studies
Review, 57, pp 167-174 doi:10.1017/asr.2014.97
Request Permissions : Click here
Downloaded from, IP address: on 03 Dec 2014
The Political Crisis in South Sudan
Douglas H. Johnson
Key Words : South Sudan ; SPLM/A ; civil war
The political crisis in South Sudan is now more than a year old, with no
immediate end in sight to the fighting between armed factions. What began
as a power struggle within the ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation
Movement (SPLM), reignited factional fighting within the army, the Sudan
People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), in December 2013. Both the political
and military crises had their origins in unresolved tensions following
the split in the SPLM/A in the 1990s and the incomplete integration of
opposed factions into the army following the signing of the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 (see Johnson 2014 ). Many South Sudanese
expected that these tensions would eventually erupt in some form of con-
flict following independence in 2011, but the rapid escalation and intensity
of fighting has still taken them by surprise.
This commentary can give only the barest outline of a complex
series of events motivated by a mixture of political disappointment, per-
sonal ambition, and ethnic rivalry. A more detailed reporting of various
aspects of the crisis can be found in the updated reports of the Human
Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) for Sudan and South Sudan and
human rights reports by Amnesty International, the United Nations
Mission in South Sudan, and the South Sudan Human Rights Commission
( 2014 ).
African Studies Review , Volume 57, Number 3 (December 2014), pp. 167– 174
Douglas H. Johnson is an independent scholar and the author of The Root Causes of
Sudan’s Civil Wars: Peace or Truce ( James Currey, 2011) . He was a member of the
Abyei Boundaries Commission . E-mail:
© African Studies Association, 2014
168 African Studies Review
The CPA was constructed around the assumption that John Garang
would remain the leader of the SPLM/A, the head of the Government
of South Sudan (GoSS), and the first vice president in the power-sharing
Government of National Unity (GNU) with the National Congress Party
(NCP) throughout the six-year interim period leading up to the South
Sudanese independence referendum in 2011. His death in July 2005, three
weeks after his inauguration as first vice president, catapulted two men
into unexpected positions of power: Salva Kiir Mayardit, Garang’s deputy,
assumed the leadership of the party and his two constitutional positions,
while Riek Machar, occupying the third highest position in the party,
became vice president in the GoSS. Had Garang lived, it is unlikely that
either man would have remained in their initial positions, as Garang was
adept at moving potential rivals around, preventing them from entrench-
ing themselves in positions of power within the party or the army.
Salva Kiir, a veteran guerrilla of the first civil war, was, along with
Garang, the last surviving founder of the SPLM/A, all others having been
killed in the fratricidal warfare that engulfed the SPLM/A during the 1990s
(see Johnson 2011 :ch.7). His survival was due, in part, to having kept aloof
from the internal politics of the movement, seeing himself as a soldier
rather than a politician. Tensions had arisen between him and Garang
at the end of 2004, just before the signing of the CPA, and his future in
a Garang-led government was uncertain.
Riek Machar had joined the movement from a civilian, rather than
a military, background and broke with Garang in 1991 over personal and
ideological differences. His attempt to lead a reformed movement failed,
and in the end he was forced to fall back on the support of sections of his
own Nuer people, a significant proportion of them coming from Khartoum-
backed militias. Machar soon lost control over both the formal and infor-
mal armed bodies under his command. His rebellion disintegrated into
internecine fighting among Nuer, with civilians being the main targets,
a pattern that was to reemerge in his current rebellion (see Johnson 2009 ,
2011 :ch.8). He reconciled with Garang in 2002, just as internationally bro-
kered peace negotiations with Khartoum began, and was elevated to the
number three spot in the movement’s hierarchy.
Salva Kiir faced many challenges in forming a government to adminis-
ter southern Sudan during the interim period prior to the independence
referendum. As leader of the army, the party, and the government, he first
appointed persons closer to himself than to Garang, some with strong ties
to Khartoum, leaving many of the SPLM stalwarts—“Garang’s Orphans”—
marginalized within the party and government (see Nyaba 2011 ). A number
were brought back into central positions midway into the interim period as
relations between the SPLM and the NCP in the GNU worsened over issues
of oil, the undefined North–South boundary, and the disputed Abyei area
(see Johnson 2008 , 2010 , 2012 ). As far as internal security was concerned,
the president sought to conciliate the Khartoum-backed mainly Nuer mili-
tias by absorbing them into the SPLA with offers of promotions to their
Commentary: The Political Crisis in South Sudan 169
officers and salaries to the rank and file. Initially successful, this strategy
only stored up problems within the army as former enemies remained only
incompletely integrated, the balance of loyalties shifted, and mini-rebellions
were contained only by offering the same inducements of promotion and
cash (see LeRiche & Arnold 2012 ).
The SPLM’s political priorities shifted under Salva Kiir, away from
Garang’s vision of a “New Sudan” united under a secular state and toward
the independence of South Sudan only. This involved the decision that
SPLM candidates would not contest the 2010 presidential and national par-
liamentary elections and outwardly abandoning the members of the SPLM
and SPLA stationed in neighboring South Kordofan and Blue Nile, states
that were not included in South Sudan’s independence referendum. It also
meant keeping the SPLM’s own internal divisions quiet in a show of unity
prior to the independence referendum.
With the referendum out of the way and independence internationally
recognized, discontent within the party became more visible and vocal.
John Garang’s widow, Rebecca Nyandeng, was quite open in voicing her
dissatisfaction with her husband’s successor as leader of the SPLM/A. Riek
Machar had announced his ambition to become president of the indepen-
dent nation as early as 2008. He argued for presidential term limits to be
written into the transitional constitution, but the new constitution gave the
president considerable powers, while the office of vice president remained
an appointed, not an elective, position. Some disappointed candidates in
the 2010 elections formed their own breakaway movements, supplied with
arms by Khartoum, and there were mini-rebellions in the oil-owning states
of Upper Nile, Unity, and Jonglei. Battles of increasing brutality escalated
between groups of armed civilians, especially between the Nuer and Murle
of Jonglei, and the government responded with heavy-handed disarma-
ment campaigns wherever they could not buy off the antagonists with fur-
ther incorporation into the army.
Discontent with the lack of development, corruption within the party
and the government, and continued insecurity in parts of the country
became increasingly public in 2012–13 as the party carried out national and
internal consultations to prepare its basic documents prior to its national
convention scheduled for May 2013. Uncertainty about whether Salva Kiir
intended to stand for reelection prompted not only Riek Machar, but also
Rebecca Nyandeng and Pagan Amum, the party’s secretary-general, to
announce their intention to stand for election as party chairman, which
would automatically make the winner the party’s candidate for president.
Many other officials were also dissatisfied with the sense of drift in both the
party and the government and supported, with varying degrees of warmth,
reforms proposed by Riek Machar and the other contenders for the
Relations between the president and vice president deteriorated, with
the president beginning to feel isolated within the party: he viewed as dis-
loyal anyone seen to be supporting the vice president’s agenda. In a series
170 African Studies Review
of moves throughout the first half of 2013 Salva Kiir stripped Riek of his
delegated powers, removed various critics from positions of power within
the government, dismissed Riek’s cousin-in-law, Taban Deng Gai, as governor
of the strategic oil-producing Unity State, and finally, on July 23, 2013, dis-
missed Riek and his entire cabinet and suspended Pagan Amum as secretary-
general of the SPLM. This was followed in November by an announcement
dissolving all political structures of the SPLM except for the chairmanship
and the secretariat, thus depriving the president’s critics not only of their
positions in government, but in the party as well.
Salva Kiir’s new cabinet included many nonmembers of the SPLM,
persons who had no real power base in the party, and others whose main
qualification was that they came from the same region as the president and
were entirely dependent on him for advancement. Some were seen still to
be close to Khartoum, and relations with the NCP government of Sudan
began to improve, especially over security issues and ending Juba’s support
for the SPLM/A-North.
This political housecleaning paralleled an earlier large-scale forced
retirement of senior officers within the SPLA, many with strong links to
their former comrades-in-arms in the SPLM/A-North, now engaged in
open warfare with Khartoum in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
Some of the remaining Khartoum-backed rebel movements along South
Sudan’s border with Sudan made their peace with Juba and were brought
into the army. The balance of loyalties in the army was now skewed away
from long-term veterans of the movement and toward defectors with a his-
tory of disaffection.
These dismissals created a new coalition of internal opposition within
the SPLM. Riek Machar, as the most prominent dissenter, became its figure-
head, but the coalition was more united in its dissatisfaction with Salva Kiir
than in support for Riek Machar’s ambitions. Many, in fact, were old
opponents of Riek, forced into an alliance by Salva Kiir’s increasing author-
itarianism and intransigence. They included former governors of Unity,
Northern Bahr el-Ghazal, and Lakes states as well as a defeated gubernato-
rial candidate from Central Equatoria; former ministers and senior figures
in the army; members of John Garang’s family and one-time close associates
of Garang such as Deng Alor Kuol from Abyei. Ethnically they were
diverse, coming from the three largest Nilotic groups of Dinka, Nuer, and
Shilluk, as well as some Equatorian peoples. Nevertheless, the majority
were drawn from Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity states, the former strong-
holds of pro-Khartoum militias and Riek Machar’s 1990s breakaway group.
It was an unlikely alliance and proved to be an unstable one.
The events that led up to an outbreak of fighting in December 2013 are
still disputed. On December 6, 2013, the dissident group held a press con-
ference criticizing Salva Kiir’s leadership of the party and the government.
Some of the main criticisms, such as the marginalization of Garang’s closest
supporters and collusion with Khartoum, motivated the SPLM stalwarts
in the group more than Riek, since he had once been Khartoum’s chief
Commentary: The Political Crisis in South Sudan 171
collaborator. Other issues, such as the president’s increasingly autocratic
behavior, policy drift, and a failure to combat corruption, were more
broadly supported, though many of the dissidents themselves were accused
of corruption. They called upon the president to convene a meeting of the
SPLM Political Bureau (now dissolved) and announced a public opposi-
tion rally to be held in Juba on December 14. The SPLM Secretariat then
announced that a meeting of the National Liberation Council (NLC) would
be held on the same day. The public rally was postponed and the NLC
meeting was opened by the president, who attacked Riek in his opening
address, reminding the audience of his role in splitting the SPLM/A in the
1990s. Motions proposed by the dissident group were voted down and they
boycotted the meeting the next day when the party’s policy documents
were passed without substantial debate.
On December 15 the president ordered the disarmament of the
presidential guard, a combination of SPLA veterans and recently integrated
Nuer militiamen, during which fighting broke out between largely Nuer
and Dinka soldiers and spread to other garrisons around Juba. On
December 16 Salva Kiir announced on television that an attempted coup
had been foiled, and throughout the next few days security forces, including
specially recruited troops from the president’s home area, combed through
different neighborhoods in Juba targeting Nuer civilians and arresting the
opposition politicians. Mutinies of largely Nuer units in Jonglei, Upper
Nile, and Unity states followed in close succession and Riek Machar, now
based in Jonglei, called on the army to overthrow Salva Kiir. Large groups
of armed Nuer civilians were recruited into Riek’s forces, and during
several months of seesaw fighting in the three states large numbers of
civilians were killed, often brutally. The SPLA received help against
Riek’s forces from units of the Ugandan army, already based in South Sudan
as part of an anti–Lord’s Resistance Army force, as well as the SPLA-
North from neighboring Blue Nile state and the Darfur Justice and Equality
Movement (JEM) allied to the SPLA-North in neighboring South Kordofan.
The involvement of the latter led to the massacre of hundreds of Darfuri
traders in Bentiu when it was briefly retaken by Riek’s troops in April.
Under intense international diplomatic pressure the opposing sides signed
two cessation-of-hostilities agreements in Addis Ababa; both were repeat-
edly violated. Fighting paused only with the onset of the rainy season in May.
Salva Kiir and Riek Machar each accuse the other of initiating the
fighting. Riek has denied that he attempted a coup, and the government
has failed to provide compelling evidence to substantiate this claim. All the
other alleged coup plotters among the political detainees were released,
though the government claimed that it had not dropped charges against
them. There is also very little hard evidence of an active coup plot, as opposed
to an attempted coup. The counter claim is that the president planned
a purge of political and military opponents through the recruitment of
a special force from his home area, kept separate from the SPLA military
command, and that the confrontation at the NLC in December was the
172 African Studies Review
excuse for releasing them into Juba—“ Interahamwe style” as one former
political detainee put it—targeting Nuer civilians and the families of Nuer
There can be no serious dispute of the role of government security
forces in the murder of large numbers of unarmed civilians in Juba in
December 2013, whether as a separate force under the president’s com-
mand or as part of the SPLA. That there was no active coup attempt is also
indisputable. But this does not mean that there was no threat of some sort
of military intervention against the government. After his dismissal as gov-
ernor of Unity state in July, Taban Deng Gai is reported to have gone to
Khartoum to raise support for Riek, repeating his role as Riek’s liaison with
Khartoum during the early years of the SPLA split. Oil money that was sup-
posed to be paid to Unity state during Taban’s governorship is now alleged
to be supporting the activities of Riek’s SPLM-in-Opposition (SPLM-O).
During the same period at least one member of the opposition to Salva Kiir
spoke openly about keeping “all options on the table,” including some
form of armed struggle. The speed with which a series of senior Nuer field
commanders mobilized their forces against the government also suggests
that at the very least some opposition military network had been put in
place. We need no reminder in this centenary year of the outbreak of the
First World War that planning for military contingencies can lead to miscal-
culations on all sides with catastrophic consequences.
Despite the comparison with the Interahamwe cited above, South Sudan
is not yet on the brink of a Rwanda-style genocide, with all Nuer fighting all
Dinka. Fighting has largely been confined to the three states of Jonglei,
Upper Nile, and Unity where the legacy of interethnic fighting within the
SPLA during the 1990s is strongest. There have been some revenge killings
outside those states, but Nuer continue to serve in the SPLA, the govern-
ment, and the civil service. A former Nuer militia in Unity state has been
instrumental in supporting the SPLA against invading Nuer forces from
Jonglei and Upper Nile. There have been opportunistic cattle raids between
communities of neighboring states, but Nuer refugees have found protec-
tion in Dinka communities and vice versa.
Riek has committed some of the same mistakes that doomed his break-
away movement in the 1990s. He very quickly lost control of his forces in
the field by recruiting ill-disciplined armed civilian militias who have been
responsible for some of the worst atrocities against civilians. Publicly he has
proclaimed himself in favor of democracy and against dictatorship, but his
main appeal has been to a sense of Nuer entitlement, cloaked in semireli-
gious references to the nineteenth-century Nuer prophet Ngundeng. After
the massacres of Dinka, Shilluk, Nuer, and Darfuri civilians by his forces in
Malakal and Bentiu, he has very little that is positive to offer other South
Neither the government nor the opposition enjoys firm widespread
support. Salva Kiir’s greatest appeal has been to his own Awan-Mou Dinka
community from Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state, but Dinka from other
Commentary: The Political Crisis in South Sudan 173
communities continue to be among his strongest critics. The governors of
Western, Central, and Eastern Equatoria, three of the states least touched
by continuing ethnic violence, have pledged their support for the govern-
ment, less out of loyalty to the president or the party and more in opposi-
tion to violent regime change. Nuer support for Riek has declined as they
count the mounting cost of their own casualties. Most of Riek’s former allies
among the now released political detainees have distanced themselves from
his armed rebellion and have refused to join the SPLM-O, preferring to
remain as a third force. The satirical website “Saakam!”—South Sudan’s
answer to The Onion and Private Eye (motto: “Sharing news like it never hap-
pened, making you think like you count”)—has highlighted the dilemmas
of the political actors with fake headlines such as “SPLM to tighten mem-
bership rules, making resignation harder but more profitable,” “Rebels to
be more selective in welcoming white-collar defectors and ‘armyless’ gen-
erals,” and “Earthquake rocks South Sudan capital, Equatoria governors
deny responsibility.”
Both sides face increased diplomatic isolation. Riek’s supporters pre-
sent his recent tour of regional capitals as proof of his growing reputation
as a state leader. Yet diplomatic sources cite his request for military support
from Kenya and South Africa as evidence both of his lack of awareness of
international realities and the extent of his self-delusion. Diplomatic sup-
port for Salva Kiir personally is also weakening. Even Uganda, his strongest
regional backer, is now seeing him as a liability (see Radio Tamazuj 2014 ).
So far tentative U.S. and E.U. sanctions against individuals have had little
effect, but more robust sanctions against the main protagonists, if sup-
ported by neighboring countries, could have a sobering effect.
Prospects for an immediate peace seem as remote as ever. A CPA-style
“power-sharing” agreement is unlikely to hold, considering that the cur-
rent conflict is the result of the breakdown of a de facto internal power-
sharing arrangement. Both Salva Kiir and Riek Machar stand accused of
ultimate responsibility for widespread human rights abuses against civil-
ians by their forces. This has undermined their legitimacy as national
leaders in the eyes of many South Sudanese, yet an interim arrangement
without them is, at present, unrealistic. A more practical approach might
be to put in place an internationally enforced ceasefire first, giving time
for a new political arrangement to be negotiated through a nationwide
constitutional convention that includes more than just the current com-
batants. Ironically, before 1989 this was the SPLM’s preferred option for
ending its war with Khartoum and ushering in the “New Sudan.” It is time
for the SPLM’s fractured leadership to work out how they can best create
a “New South Sudan.”
Amnesty International . 2014 . “Nowhere Safe: Civilians Under Attack in South
Sudan.” London: Amnesty International . .
174 African Studies Review
Johnson , Douglas H . 2008 . “ Why Abyei Matters: The Breaking Point of Sudan’s
Comprehensive Peace Agreement? African Affairs 107 ( 426 ): 1 19 .
——— . 2009 . “ The Nuer Civil Wars .” In Changing Identification and Alliances in North-
East Africa , vol. 2 , edited by Günther Schlee and Elizabeth E. Watson , 31 47 .
New York : Berghahn Books .
——— . 2010 . When Boundaries Become Borders: The Impact of Boundary-Making in
Southern Sudan’s Frontier Zones . Nairobi : Rift Valley Institute .
——— . 2011 . The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars: Peace or Truce . Revised edition.
Woodbridge, U.K. : James Currey .
——— . 2012 . “ The Heglig Oil Dispute between Sudan and South Sudan .” Journal of
Eastern African Studies 6 ( 3 ): 561 –69.
——— .
2014 . “ Briefing: the Crisis in South Sudan .” African Affairs 113 ( 451 ):
300 309 .
LeRiche , Matthew , and Matthew Arnold . 2012 . South Sudan from Revolution to
Independence . London : Hurst & Co .
Nyaba , Peter Adwok . 2011 . South Sudan: The State We Aspire to . Cape Town : Centre for
Advanced Study of African Society .
Radio Tamazuj . 2014 . “Museveni Seeking South Sudan ‘Exit Strategy.’” July 21 . .
Small Arms Survey–Sudan . 2014 a. “Timeline of Recent Intra-Southern Conflict.”
June 27 . .
South Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC) . 2014 . “Interim Report on South
Sudan Internal Conflict: December 15, 2013 to March 15, 2014.” Juba: Southern
Sudan, Sudan . .
——— . 2014 b. “The SPLM-in-Opposition.” May 2 . .
United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) . 2014 . “Conflict
in South Sudan: A Human Rights Report.” May 8. Bahr al Jabal, South Sudan:
1. See, e.g., Amnesty International ( 2014 ); UNMISS ( 2014 ); SSHRC ( 2014 ). For
reports of the HBSA see, e.g., Small Arms Survey–;Sudan ( 2014a , 2014b) and
specific shorter reports from the same source on the conflicts in Upper Nile,
Unity, and Jonglei states.
2. Loosely translated from Juba Arabic, “Saakam!” means “Say what?” See saakam. .
... Notably, there are many driving factors for South Sudan's high inflation rate, including rapid currency depreciation, dependence on imported consumer and capital goods, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contraction as a result of fall in international oil price in the world market, unrest, and uncertainty situation in the country, etc. [59][60][61]. Therefore, COVID-19, in particular, in South Sudan and the region, is a blow to the nose because of the weak red light of economic shrink. ...
Full-text available
In December 2019, a new respiratory disease, i.e., novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) emerged in Mainland China in Wuhan the capital of Hubei Province. It spreads through droplets produced while coughing or sneezing. Its symptoms include fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum production, shortness of breath, sore throat, etc. In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a “Pandemic” which affected human lives and economies. South Sudan is a developing country and does not have adequate resources to overcome this pandemic (COVID-19). Aims: The primary objective of this article is to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the youngest country in the African continent (South Sudan) on its weak economy coupled with hyperinflation and depreciation of currency etc. and lessons learned from other countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Methodology: A review was carried out to accomplish the objective of the study by extracting data from the database of Science Direct, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Research Gate, and authentic websites for World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, etc., studies covered major areas across the globe but more especially countries that have trade ties with South Sudan and the East African Results: There is a drop in South Sudan’s crude oil export which is crucial for the economy. The responsive rate to vulnerable citizens was low, inadequate policies implementations, there was massive unemployment, it has created the state of xenophobia between nationals and foreigners, online learning through the use of televisions (TVs) and radio stations has not been effective. Conclusion: The management of the COVID-19 pandemic call for collaboration between authorities the public, and inter-states as there is no country immune. The use of e-commerce is crucial for developing countries, which reduces social interaction between traders and consumers, reducing the chances of a complete economic shutdown. Lastly, there is also a need to establish learning infrastructures for online studies and birth control initiatives, especially for the least developed countries.
... In the wars in South Sudan since December 2013, over four million people have been displaced and well over 200,000 have died violent deaths (Checci et al. 2018). These South Sudanese wars broke out when violence in Juba prompted the division of the national army (then the Sudan People's Liberation Army) and sparked rebellions that expanded across the country over the following years (De Waal 2014;Johnson 2014;Pendle 2021). At the same time, armed conflict had been a feature of the lives of many South Sudanese during the previous eight years of apparent "peace". ...
Full-text available
International humanitarian actors and academics continue to struggle to understand armed group conduct and how to restrain this conduct when it violates moral, legal and humanitarian norms. Armed groups that lack a visible, explicit formal hierarchical command structure, equivalent to those found in state militaries, have proved a particular puzzle. A growing body of scholarship on the strategic functions of patterns of violence and restraint has usefully moved beyond assumptions that extreme violence is indicative of an absence of authority over armed actors. However, literature has tended to ignore the potential plurality and complexity of authority figures that shape violence and the constraining, conservative nature of certain moral orders. This article makes use of qualitative and ethnographic research in South Sudan to understand patterns of restraint among the gojam and titweng cattle-guarding defense forces from 2014 to 2017. The analysis documents how public authorities gained legitimacy within these groups by renegotiating a group’s social order, moral boundaries, and restraint through their own reinterpretations of meta-ethical ideals and histories. Cultural norms of restraint were manipulated by elites but were also remade into acts of creative refusal against these same elites. The article specifically focuses on how the life-giving work of children, women and old friends was used to protect life as well as incite violence. The article has implications for how international humanitarians can engage with the remaking of custom to enhance armed group restraint and better protect civilians. Los actores humanitarios internacionales y los académicos continúan teniendo dificultades para comprender la conducta de los grupos armados y de qué manera contenerla cuando incumple las normas morales, legales y humanitarias. Los grupos armados que carecen de una estructura de mando jerárquica, formal, explícita y visible, equivalente a las que se encuentran en las fuerzas armadas estatales, han resultado un enigma particular. Un conjunto creciente de estudios sobre las funciones estratégicas de los patrones de la violencia y la limitación útilmente ha dejado atrás las suposiciones de que la violencia extrema es indicativa de una ausencia de autoridad sobre los actores armados. No obstante, la bibliografía ha tendido a ignorar la pluralidad y la complejidad potenciales de las figuras de autoridad que determinan la violencia y la naturaleza conservadora y restrictiva de ciertas órdenes morales. Este artículo hace uso de investigaciones cualitativas y etnográficas en Sudán del Sur para comprender los patrones de limitación entre las fuerzas de defensa protectoras del ganado titweng y gojam desde 2014 hasta 2017. El análisis documenta de qué manera las autoridades públicas obtuvieron legitimidad en estos grupos renegociando un orden social, límites morales y restricción del grupo a través de sus propias reinterpretaciones de los ideales y las historias metaéticos. Las normas culturales de la limitación no solo se vieron manipuladas por las élites, sino que también se convirtieron en actos de rechazo creativo contra estas mismas élites. El artículo se centra específicamente en cómo se utilizó el trabajo vital de niños, mujeres y antiguas amistades para proteger la vida, así como para incitar violencia. El artículo cuenta con implicaciones de cómo los humanitarios internacionales pueden comprometerse con el cambio de las costumbres para mejorar la limitación de los grupos armados y proteger mejor a los civiles. Les acteurs humanitaires et universitaires du monde entier continuent de s’efforcer de comprendre la conduite des groupes armés et la manière dont ils se retiennent dans cette conduite lorsqu’elle enfreint les normes morales, légales et humanitaires. Les groupes armés ne disposant pas d’une structure de commandement hiérarchique officielle et clairement visible équivalente à celles des armées d’État se sont avérés comme étant un véritable casse-tête. Un corpus croissant de recherches sur les fonctions stratégiques des schémas de violence et de retenue est utilement allé au-delà des hypothèses selon lesquelles la violence extrême est indicatrice d’une absence d’autorité sur les acteurs armés. Cependant, la littérature a eu tendance à ignorer la pluralité et la complexité potentielles des figures d’autorité façonnant la violence, la retenue et la nature conservative de certains ordres moraux. Cet article exploite des recherches qualitatives et ethnographiques effectuées au Soudan du Sud pour comprendre les schémas de retenue des forces de défense des gardiens de bétail gojams et titwengs entre 2014 et 2017. Son analyze document la manière dont les autorités publiques ont acquis une légitimité au sein de ces groupes en renégociant l’ordre social, les limites morales et la retenue du groupe par le biais de ses propres réinterprétations des idéaux et histoires méta-éthiques. Les normes culturelles de retenue ont été manipulées par les élites mais également traduites en actes de refus créatifs contre ces mêmes élites. Cet article se concenter plus particulièrement sur la façon dont le travail de subsistance des enfants, des femmes et des amis de longue date a été utilisé pour préserver la vie, mais aussi pour inciter à la violence. Cet article a des implications relatives à la manière dont les humanitaires internationaux peuvent s’engager dans la refonte de la coutume afin d’améliorer la retenue des groupes armés et de mieux protéger les civils.
... With stable international conditions, the country witnessed a stable economy that achieved selfsufficiency, at least in food production. Nevertheless, the civil war that broke out in 1955 in the southern region led to some limited economic and political instability whose negative impacts were not felt in the Arabicized Northern region but devastated the African population's livelihood in the southern part of the country (Johnson, 2014). To add insult to injury, most northern-dominated governments, more or less, adopt aggressive Arabicization and Islamization policies against the African population in the South (Jaspars, 2018). ...
Full-text available
The article is exploratory in nature and uses descriptive statistical tools to describe the attitudes of Sudanese people towards certain policy issues faced by the Transitional Government in Sudan, which has emerged after the popular revolution of December 19, 2019, that ousted Bashir's Islamite military regime. The new Transitional Government is now less than two-year-old. Hence it is difficult to evaluate its policies in a credible manner. Thus, the paper hopes to help future researchers to develop more meaningful hypotheses about the performance of the new Transitional Government in Sudan. The major theme of the article is to investigate the attitudes of the Sudanese citizen's attitudes towards the performance of the new Transitional Government regarding certain pressing policy issue area inherited from the previous regime which includes the issues of policymaking, economy, bread shortage, as well as oil and cooking gas shortage, the issues of peace security and corruption.
... The two, together with others, called for the replacement of John Garang as the leader of the SPLM (Sørbø 2014:1). They accused Garang of establishing close ties with the Ethiopian government, which they regarded as a move that would stymie internal reforms within the SPLM (Johnson 2014). This attempt did not come to fruition, and Riek Machar led a splinter group in the formation of Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-Nasir which continued to support the independence of the South from the North even though it received military and financial support from the government in Khartoum. ...
Full-text available
With the South Sudanese conflict in its fifth year in 2018, this paper seeks to not only examine the status of the civil war that has engulfed the youngest nation on earth but to also discuss the evolving narratives of its causes and provide policy recommendation to actors involved in the peace process. Having examined the continuously failing peace treaties between the warring parties, it is evident that the agreements have failed to unearth and provide solutions to the crisis and a new approach to examining the causes and solutions to the problem is therefore necessary. This paper argues that ethnic animosities and rivalry are a key underlying cause that has transformed political rivalry into a deadly ethnic dispute through vicious mobilization and rhetoric. Therefore, it recommends a comprehensive peace approach that will address the political aspects of the conflict and propose restructuring South Sudan's administrative, economic and social spheres in order to curb further manipulation of the ethnic differences.
The major cause of the conflict in South Sudan was power struggles among the political elites who manipulated ethnic differences along tribal lines. In the case of defunct Gbudue State both Sudan People Liberation Army in Opposition ( SPLAIO ) and South Sudan National Liberation Movement ( SSNLM ) massively recruited girl soldiers into their ranks. After the conflict, the girl soldiers returned home with deep psychosocial effects. The conflict has brought to fore existence of rich knowledge of traditional and religious approaches in reintegration process. This article attempts to examine the significance of traditional approaches used as psychosocial support during reintegration of former girl soldiers and analyse the extent of religion as dominant approach during the reintegration of former girl child soldiers in South Sudan. The article was guided by Instrumentalist theory: Elite Perspective. The study revealed both traditional approaches and religion in form of prayers helped psychologically to reintegrate former girl soldiers into the communities. The study also revealed that reintegration is a process that aims to reintegrate former girl soldiers within their families, economically and socially. From a methodological point of view, this article is a phenomenologically designed with findings include discussions about themes and patterns discovered during data analysis.
The breaking of peace agreements and the subsequent perpetuation of civil war in South Sudan are sustained by the failure to adopt broad interventions addressing the many layers of the conflict. An understanding of the multiple causes of the conflict can form the basis for a successful and durable peace agreement. To investigate why violent conflict persists, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 29 major stakeholders, including conflict parties, mediators, eminent South Sudanese personalities, scholars and civil society leaders. The responses were grouped into five major themes: historical conflicts, estranged political relationships, power struggles, resource control and ethnic violence (not included in this article). The results suggest that estranged political relationships, characterized by fear, anger, bitterness, distrust and the urge for revenge, are born out of historical conflicts that remain unresolved. The ensuing power struggles and ethnic violence are motivated by the estranged political relationships between the top leaders. Dealing with their estrangements, therefore, forms the base from which historical conflicts can be addressed towards lasting agreements and sustainable peace in South Sudan.
Background In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), health system resilience and preparedness for shocks such as wars are an urgent concern if the region is to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes a reduction in maternal deaths by fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030. There has been very little research on how health systems should achieve SD 3 if they are impacted by war. Aims This thesis examines the interrelationships between war, health systems, female empowerment and the utilisation of maternal health services in war-affected SSA countries (1990–2015). This study includes examining the factors that enabled some war-affected SSA countries to achieve a significant maternal mortality reduction during this period based on their health systems’ resilience and preparedness for shocks such as wars. Methods This study used diverse research methods: (1) quantitative analyses of maternal mortality in 49 SSA countries divided into two groups (countries with and without war (major armed conflict) during 1990–2015 (article to be submitted); (2) literature review and policy analysis to identify standard best health system practices in five SSA countries with war (1990–2015) and achieved a maternal mortality reduction (≥50%) in the same period (article published in Global Health Action); (3) qualitative research in Eritrea, a war-affected SSA country during 1990–2015 (article published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth); (4) quantitative analyses to assess the prevalence of female empowerment in 31 SSA countries using four female empowerment indicators in Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) collected during 2010–2015 (article to be submitted); (5) quantitative analyses of DHS data to assess associations between female empowerment and the utilisation of maternal health services––antenatal care visits (≥4 ANC) and delivery by skilled birth attendants (SBAs)––in 31 SSA countries using the four DHS female empowerment indicators (article published in BMJ Open), and (6) quantitative analyses to compare female empowerment in countries with and without war (1990–2015), and examining whether there are no differences between female empowerment and the utilisation of maternal health services in countries with and without war in the same period (article to be submitted). 17 Results For the qualitative analyses of 49 SSA countries divided into two groups according to their war history (1990–2015). Countries with war (n=13) had a higher median maternal mortality ratio (MMR) (693 [IQR (477-732)]) than those without war (n=36) (380 [(247-570)]) (p<0.01). Adjusted regression models among all 49 countries showed an association between low maternal mortality and high density of nurses-midwives (p = 0.05) as well as a low level of corruption (p = 0.03). For countries with war, there was evidence of an association between low maternal mortality and high density of nurses-midwives (p = 0.05) besides the high density of hospitals (p = 0.02). For countries without war, only a low level of corruption was significantly associated with low maternal mortality (p = 0.03). The literature review and policy analysis study identified three general health system reforms across all five countries that could explain the observed maternal mortality reduction in these countries. These health system reforms were health systems decentralisation, innovation related to the health workforce (such as training of community healthcare workers), and government financing reforms. Qualitative research in Eritrea revealed two perceived facilitators of the women’s utilisation of and access to maternal health services: health education and improvement in gender equality and female empowerment, driven by the role women played as combatants during the War of Independence (1961–1991). The one perceived barrier was the inadequate quality of care. The importance of female empowerment in Eritrea led to a broader investigation of female empowerment in SSA using DHS data. The prevalence of female empowerment in 31 SSA countries ranged from 69% for opposing sexual violence to 42% for decisions on the spending of the household income. The prevalence of opposing sexual violence was highest in Southern Africa (85%), and lowest in Western Africa (64%); opposing domestic violence was highest in Southern Africa (64%) and lowest in Central Africa (36%); women’s involvement in decisions on the spending of the household income was highest in Southern Africa (72%) and lowest in Western Africa (27%); and women’s participation in decisions on the major household purchases was highest in Southern Africa (85%) and lowest in Western Africa (41%). Pooled results for all 31 countries (194,883 women) combined showed weak statistically significant associations between all four female empowerment indicators and 18 the utilisation of maternal healthcare services (aORs ranged from 1.07 to 1.15). The strongest associations were in the Southern African region. For example, the aOR for women who made decisions on the household income solely or jointly with husbands concerning the utilisation of SBAs in the Southern African region was 1.44 (95% CI 1.21 to 1.70). Paradoxically, there were three countries where women with higher autonomy on some measures were less likely to use maternal healthcare services. For example, the aOR in Senegal for women who made decisions on the major household purchases solely or jointly with husbands about the utilisation of SBAs was 0.74 (95% CI 0.59 to 0.94). The pooled prevalence of female empowerment was 42% for rejection of domestic violence in SSA countries with war and 50% in those without war; 60% for decisions on the spending of the household income made by the women solely or jointly with husbands in countries with war and 37% in those without war; 63% for decisions on the major household purchases in countries with war and 49% in those without war, and 67% for opposing sexual violence in countries with war and 70% in those without war. There was no difference between countries with and without war regarding the relationship between female empowerment and the utilisation of maternal health services. Conclusions Health system resilience and preparedness for shocks is an urgent concern in war-affected SSA countries. The results of this study suggest that reforms related to healthcare workers, leadership and governance (to tackle corruption) could be the keys to strengthening the health system and therefore reduce maternal mortality. This research also shows that empowering SSA women (SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls by 2030) is essential if the region is to meet the SDG 3.1 target of fewer than 70 MMR per 100,000 live births by 2030. As only a small number of studies have been published about the utilisation of maternal health services in war-affected SSA countries, findings of this study provide a basis for further research in countries recovering from the effect of war. Some of the results presented here should be interpreted with caution. In particular, female empowerment is a complicated issue that cannot be fully understood using only quantitative research methods.
Since the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in December 2013, thousands of South Sudanese have been subjected to sexual violence, including rape, gang rape, sexual mutilation, castration, and forced nudity. The outrageous and brutal sexual violence has resulted in undesirable physical, psychological, and social impacts on the survivors, who are largely living in refugee settlements in the West Nile region of Uganda. This paper provides a critical understanding of the disturbing narratives and experiences of the survivors of the ethnically-charged sexual attacks in the ongoing civil war in South Sudan. It examines how extreme acts of sexual violence were part of a strategy to terrorise, degrade, shame and humiliate both the victims and their ethnic or political group. This paper also examines the impacts of the horrendous sexual violence on the survivors, their families and society, and provides policy recommendations to address the wartime sexual violence.
Full-text available
The South Sudan conflict flared up in 2013 hardly two years after successful secession from Sudan. This autonomy was achieved after more than two decades of intense fighting between the tribes from the north and south regions of Sudan. However, the path to creating a new united and modern state has been challenging for South Sudan. This article explores post-conflict reconstruction for Africa's newest state through an in-depth analysis of the conflict narratives, peace processes, humanitarian crisis and the challenges of state-building for South Sudan. The article argues that the challenge to the establishment of a strong and stable South Sudanese state is because of the fragile social, political and economic status that the country inherited at independence. This article also identifies that ethnicity has been exploited by the different political actors in the conflict to achieve personal and group interests leading to outbreak of one of the most intense conflicts not only within Africa, but also globally. Öz Güney Sudan çatışması, 2013 yılından itibaren, bölgenin Sudan'dan başarılı bir şekilde ayrılmasından yaklaşık iki yıl sonra, yükselişe geçmiştir. Güney Sudan'ın bu özerkliği, Sudan'ın güney ve kuzey bölgelerinde yer alan yerel grupların yirmi yılı aşkın bir süredir devam eden yoğun çatışmaları sonrası sağlanmıştır. Ancak, Güney Sudan için yeni, birleşik ve modern bir devlet inşası halen önemli sorunları bünyesinde taşımaktadır. Bu makalede, Afrika'nın en yeni devletinin çatışma sonrası yeniden inşa süreci; insani krizler, barış süreçleri ve Güney Sudan'ın devlet inşası sürecinde karşılaştığı temel problemler ekseninde, derinlemesine analiz edilmektedir. Makalede, güçlü ve istikrarlı bir Güney Sudan'ın kurulmasının önündeki en önemli engeller olarak bağımsızlık sürecinden miras kalan kırılgan toplum yapısı, istikrarsız ekonomik ve siyasi yapı ifade edilmektedir. Makalede etnisite kavramı, sadece Afrika'da değil küresel eksende de en yoğun çatışmalardan biri olan Güney Sudan'da, farklı siyasal grupların bireysel ve kolektif çıkarların gerçekleştirilmesi amacıyla istismar edilmiş bir araç olarak tanımlanmaktadır.
Jesse Zink. Christianity and Catastrophe in South Sudan: Civil War, Migration, and the Rise of Dinka Anglicanism. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2018. xxv + 259 pp. Maps. Photographs. Bibliography. Index. $49.95. Cloth. ISBN: 9781481308229. - Daniela Nascimento
Full-text available
The armed forces of Sudan and newly independent South Sudan recently clashed over the border area called Heglig by Khartoum and Panthou by Juba, in a dispute involving security, ownership of land, and control of oil production. The clash triggered swift condemnation of South Sudan for occupying Sudanese national territory. However, such pronouncements risk pre-judging a dispute that has not yet been decisively resolved. This briefing provides historical background relevant to understanding the history of the dispute, and the efforts in the context of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to resolve it and other border disputes. A serious examination of both oral and documentary evidence will be required in order to make a ruling that complies with “African best practice”.
Full-text available
The Abyei Area, straddling the North–South border of Sudan, was the subject of a separate protocol in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the Sudan government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in January 2005. One provision of that protocol was the establishment of a boundaries commission to define the territory to be included in the special administration of the area. The commission's decision was to be implemented ‘with immediate effect’ on the submission of its report in July 2005, but implementation has been blocked by the National Congress Party, which still controls the central government in Sudan. The conduct of war in Abyei established many precedents for the conduct of war in Darfur in the use of tribal militias and the forcible displacement of non-Arab peoples. The failure to implement the Abyei Protocol has implications not only for determining the North–South border (as stipulated by the CPA), but for the implementation of any Darfur peace agreement.
Nowhere Safe: Civilians Under Attack in South Sudan
Amnesty International. 2014. "Nowhere Safe: Civilians Under Attack in South Sudan." London: Amnesty International.
South Sudan from Revolution to Independence
  • Matthew Leriche
  • Matthew Arnold
LeRiche, Matthew, and Matthew Arnold. 2012. South Sudan from Revolution to Independence. London : Hurst & Co.
South Sudan: The State We Aspire to . Cape Town : Centre for Advanced Study of
  • Peter Nyaba
  • Adwok
Nyaba, Peter Adwok. 2011. South Sudan: The State We Aspire to. Cape Town : Centre for Advanced Study of African Society.
Timeline of Recent Intra-Southern Conflict
  • – Small Arms Survey
  • Sudan
Small Arms Survey–Sudan. 2014 a. " Timeline of Recent Intra-Southern Conflict. " June 27.
Amnesty International ( 2014 ); UNMISS ( 2014 ); SSHRC ( 2014 ) For reports of the HBSA see, e.g., Small Arms Survey–;Sudan ( 2014a , 2014b) and specific shorter reports from the same source on the conflicts in Upper Nile
  • E G See
See, e.g., Amnesty International ( 2014 ); UNMISS ( 2014 ); SSHRC ( 2014 ). For reports of the HBSA see, e.g., Small Arms Survey–;Sudan ( 2014a, 2014b) and specific shorter reports from the same source on the conflicts in Upper Nile, Unity, and Jonglei states.
Interim Report on South Sudan Internal Conflict
South Sudan Human Rights Commission (SSHRC). 2014. " Interim Report on South Sudan Internal Conflict: December 15, 2013 to March 15, 2014. " Juba: Southern Sudan, Sudan.