This day of July9, 2011 will remain written in a solid stone for South Sudanese. This is the day South Sudan proclaimed its independence from Sudan. By becoming the 54th African state, it marked this special day by a series of glorious celebrations. The very first president of South Sudan Mr Salva Kiir was sworn in front of several African and foreign political leaders, more than thirty, including neighbors of South Sudan such as the President of Sudan and the UN General Secretary, Mr Ban Ki-moon .
The celebrations were taking place in a region that is considered as being in tones of gloom. In fact, some Sudanese thought this day would not arrive. Sudan has been living a great turmoil of war that was interminable. It is said that this war started in the 1950s with the North of Sudan. It is also believed to have ended in 2005 with a peace deal, though this deal caused also the death of John Garang, the South leader and vice president at that time. He died in a helicopter’s crash.
The good news is that despite the death of Garang the battle for total independence did not stop. It is only after a six-year disengagement, the climax arrived with the overwhelming vote for separation in January and now – with the grudging acquiescence of Khartoum – the birth of a nation.
The birth of the Republic of South Sudan remains a significant achievement for the UN, helped by a little judicious arm twisting from President Obama; and it is a great day for the South Sudanese, whose lives have been cursed by two generations of insecurity. This means that around two millions of South Sudanese died for their independence and thousands of displaced. On this day, they have good cause to dance on the streets of Juba, to express their joy though the way to go is still long but at least they are autonomous.
The truth is that this seems to be the start of the true beginning and the future is a very uncertain place. In other words, since relations with the north are an abiding issue that means that internal relations are unpromising between the North and the South Sudan. Actually the Dinka remain the most representative. Being the majority , they have grasped such levers of power as exist – the government and the army – leaving the non-Dinka fifth of the population feeling shut out of senior positions and denied access to development funds. Despite the different promises made during the period of co-operation that secured the triumphant referendum result, proposals for a more federal structure of government that might lead to more geographically even development are beginning to look worthless. Juba is determined to stay in control.
In fact, this a country that should have a golden future and it could become a cornucopia of wheat and meat for its less fertile neighbors like Ethiopia and Kenya that are dominated by droughts. Besides, its agricultural resources there are large oil reserves, gold, and other minerals that can be used to build a strong and developed nation. The country engorges a relatively reduced number of the population, newly swollen by many highly educated returnees. This means that these people have in fact unlimited expectations, which may open them to very bright future if they are united to better their country.
Once a country is born, it needs support from all over the world. It is in this context that the question for the international community rises. Normally after its constructive role in helping to end the war in Sudan, then will come how to support sustainable development that makes such wealth a real resource for everyone and not cause the suffering of the people as it is today in the DRC where the country is extremely rich but the people are also extremely poor because of those resources' mismanagement.
Normally the evolution from war of freedom to peacetime government has too often been the proverbially well-intentioned road to lots of sufferings, including the death of millions of Sudanese. It is here that all the friends to this young country will have to show their friendship by helping to strengthen the good intentions by a focus on maintaining security in the whole country, particularly in remote rural areas. These areas have always been forgotten in many African countries.
Doing so will build capacity in the regional capitals, and delivering technical support in agriculture. The latter is a good source of wealth for the population if it is well supported in the context of development. What they must not do is walk away. We know that independence is an event that happens as a process of the efforts of courageous actions that aim to foster durable peace and development for everyone without distinction.
We hope this new country will do everything possible to apply democracy and show Sudan that they were able to promote their rights and development despite their long time fighting period for independence. If they do not do so, this will mean that they did not deserve this independence as are most African countries today.