It is still baffling me to read between the lines article by article on South Sudan’s Independence. I am still puzzled by how the news on Sudan has never been blown up for such a long time on the national newspapers before today it comes out with its dramatic breakthrough on its independence. As other people, I was searching for what has happened during this long silence in the national media and joining the discussion on the future of the newly-born country particularly whether the current independence means a perpetual freedom for the country.
An Eventual Freedom After Decades of War
Northern and Southern Sudan are basically two neighbouring regions with significantly different characters. Geographically, the northern Sudan is a large desert area contrasting to its southern counterpart which is dominated by grassland and rainforest. While the north is arabic-moslem region, the imagined line in its southern border inhibits the southern neighbour to have such influence and therefore preserve the region in its current state of Christian and traditional culture. As the colonial powers imposed border policy toward their colonies in Africa, the two neighbouring regions were united under one flag of Republic of Sudan. After its independence in 1956, the newly-independent country was undergoing civil war rooted from the discrimination by the central government in the north toward its minority yet oil-rich region in the south. It also angered the southern Sudan when the central government proposed to impose Islamic law over the entire country which not all Islamic adherent. As a result of this conflict, the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region was established in 1972 and last only for a decade. With the ongoing tension, the second civil war broke up since then with Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLM) getting tough on their claim for independence. As the conflict getting severe with more than two million people died and another millions people being displaced, the international community called for dispute settlement which only occurred in 2005 by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Despite slow progress, the six-year disengagement has out fruited on the fair election last January which decided 98.83 voters in favour of independence and only 1.17 voters vote for unity. Therefore, the event of 9 July 2011 witnessed the celebration for the separation of South Sudan from its previous entity.
A Perpetual Freedom for the New Country?
Despite the declaration of independence of the South Sudan has for the moment been thought as the end of the oppression by the northern central government and the beginning of freedom for the south or what they claimed as being ‘one class citizen in their own country’, it is still questionable whether this freedom would only last temporarily or would be perpetual as in the case of other ‘settled’ independent country.
Only a couple of days after its independence, South Sudan received broad recognition from international community. It has been publicly stated that US, Britain, Russia and China is ready to support the new country and to establish cooperation in order to strengthen the domestic transition after the independence. In the one hand, the flooding recognitions from the United Nations and the major powers would mean a guarantee for South Sudan’s independence. It also can be used as the deterrence to prevent the northern to re-occupy the country. Yet, the support from external powers particularly from those who have interest in this natural resource-rich country is also an alarm for South Sudan toward another type of ‘take over’. The dream to become the first class citizen in their own country would still be a challenge for Sudanese. At last, despite the international support would minimize the possibility for future occupation by the north; the unresolved border conflicts between the two would still threaten this unstable country.
With the shadow of external challenges, South Sudan will still face complicated domestic challenges. The country which was long torn by civil war is still the least-developed country with low level of prosperity in all sectors ranging from health, education, infrastructure among many others. With the newly established government in charge, it would be a daunting task to create a stable country from its current fragility. Its heavy dependence on oil sector would add up the country to another volatility in the future. Despite the independence of South Sudan received an absolute numbers of voters, the current domination by ethnic Dinka in the Southern Sudan is another matter for the country.
To sum up, the perpetual freedom of the country would depend on how this new country deals with the above-mentioned challenges. Despite the South Sudan by virtue take all the responsibility on its future destiny, it is also a responsibility for the international community which used to support the independence of the country to remain supporting the transition of South Sudan until it is considered able to stand on its own.