South Sudan is celebrating its first anniversary as Africa’s newest state. However a year after euphoric independence celebrations – is it a familiar story of dashed hopes? It is still in conflict with its northern neighbour Sudan. It is engaged in an economic conflict over oil with Sudan.
Its government is accused of corruption, its people are poor and its leader Salva Kiir commited a diplomatic faux pas by keeping U.S. President Barack Obama waiting for over half an hour for their first meeting.
Meanwhile Sudan has its own problems. It lost 75% of its oil revenue when South Sudan seceded, and its leader Omar Al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes.
KEY FACTS ABOUT THE TWO SUDANS:
- South Sudan broke away from Sudan and became a new independent country in July 2011 after a referendum.
- Before then the mainly Christian south of Sudan had been at war for several years with the mainly Muslim north of Sudan. More than 2 million people died in this war.
- Despite independence, military tensions between the two Sudans remain high.
- Oil provides South Sudan with 98% of its revenue; yet it remains one of the poorest countries of the world.
- In April 2012, South Sudan decided to halt oil production in the disputed border area.
- Without the income from oil production, South Sudan has no money to improve the lives of its people.
- One-fifth of the people in South Sudan are suffering from chronic hunger.
Graphic on South Sudan (from Africa Confidential):
Al-Jazeera interview with Nigerian diplomat Ibrahim Gambari. Nigeria’s former representative to the United Nations. Al-Jazeera’s Folly Bah Thibault interviews Gambari about the United Nations UNAMID mission in Darfur and his meeting with Sudan’s leader Omar Al-Bashir.
There are currently over half a dozen United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa.
Good discussion by the Economist on the various United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa from Sudan, Congo, Somalia et al.
For those who think secession is the answer to Nigeria’s problems – take a look at Sudan. A country with an Islamic north, and Christian oil-rich south. Oil pipelines run northward. Does that remind you of another west African country?
Interesting discussion that highlights the role and vested interests of China and the United States of America. The “US has no problem dealing with dictators. They just don’t like dealing with dictators that don’t play ball”. How succinct!
Yet North and South Sudan are on the brink of war, not long after South Sudan voted for independence from the North.
South Sudan has become the world’s newest country, with its capital at Juba and oil wealth. Let’s hope this is a new beginning and an end to conflict. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon was among the dignitaries that travelled to Juba to herald the newly independent country of South Sudan.
Southern Sudan will have a referendum on independence in 2011.
For the past two years, Nigeria’s General Martin Luther Agwai has been the Force Commander of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). In September UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced that Agwai would be succeeded as UNAMID Force Commander by Lt-General Patrick Nyamvumba of Rwanda.
Nyamvumba’s appointment might cause a storm with Nigerian officers on the UNAMID mission. Nyamvumba trained at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and is now commanding Nigerian officers who enlisted before him and who have been in service far longer than him. Surprising that the United Nations made such a botch and did not do its homework on this. Even more surprising given that the UN’s Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations is the Nigerian officer Lt-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor.
In seniority terms, Nyanvumba is far junior to his predecessor. Agwai was already a Colonel when Nyamvumba was still a cadet training at the NDA!
The issue of seniority is a very pertinent issue and has an angry precedent. During the early stages of ECOMOG, a rancorous situation erupted when the senior Nigerian officers refused to work under the Guinean deputy force commander, Lt-Col Lamin Mangasouba. General Sani Abacha (then the Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff) sent a letter to the Ghanaian force commander General Quianoo, ordering all Nigerian officers above the rank of Major to immediately return to Nigeria (including the Chief of Staff Brigadier Cyril Iweze). Even when Guinea promoted Mangasouba to full Colonel, the Nigerian officers still refused to serve under him.
Here is a video showing the handover ceremony from Agwai to Nyamvumba.
This is a video clip of David Frost interviewing Nigeria’s General Martin Luther Agwai – former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff, and currently commander of the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur.