The New Born Nation at the Edge of Bloody Civil War

By Betre Yacob.

After decades of bloody conflict, the New Born East African Nation, South Sudan, is once more at war. The power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar has turned the new nation in to a battle field, and is moving its people in to endless bloody civil war that runs along ethnic lines.

ssudan war

The fighting first erupted on December 15, 2013 in Juba, the capital, after what Mr. Kiir described as “an attempted coup” by groups of soldiers loyal to Machar, but quickly spread to other parts of the country. The conflict is now becoming more deadly with increasing involvement of ethnic motivated armed youths.

According to reports coming from Juba, thousands have already been killed in the conflict. There are reports of bodies piled in mass graves, with reports of rapes and arbitrary arrests. The UN mission in the country reported that the killings in some places amount to “war “crimes, with the gravest in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state.

The conflict is more escalating in the north part of the country, which is known for its rich oil reserve. Reports show that forces loyal to Riek Machar are getting stronger, and are advancing to strategic places. Bor is said to have been the first city failing in the hands of rebels.
Only in the past few weeks more than 120,000 people have had to flee the current violence. Reports shows that the number is alarmingly increasing as the conflict spread across the country. There are some 20,000 people seeking refuge in a UN camp in Juba, the capital city. Reports indicate civilians are killed as they try to get out of the flash points.

Reports indicate that the feared “White Army” ethnic militia is fighting hard with the government troops supporting the Riek Machar’s group. And it is feared that such ethnic militia’s participation may lead the conflict in to a full scale civil war.

The Information Minister Michael Makuei told to Reuters that understanding the danger there was an effort by some Nuer tribal elders to persuade the members of the ethnic militia, “White Army”, to stop their fighting. But, according to him, about 5,000 have refused to do so and proceeded with their advance on Bor.

As the conflict escalates into full civil war, the UN Security Council is working to increase the number of its soldiers. It has agreed to double the number of peacekeeping forces from 7,000 to 12,500. Human rights organizations have welcomed the increase in UN troops, hoping that the troops could protect civilians.

Political analysts are warning that the conflict could affect the entire region which lacks stability. They suggest that leaders around the world should push both sides to discuss their differences around table and figure out a solution. Marina Peter, a representative of the Human Rights Organization in Sudan, said, otherwise, “if the war continues, the entire region could very quickly go up in flames.”

Long Rooted Differences

Riek Machar and Mr. Kiir, had long fought for the independence of South Sudan, along with Colonel John Garang, who had been leader of the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. Garang served his country as a president for 1 year, and died in 2012 in a plane crash.

The relationship between Riek Machar and Mr. Kiir had long been marked by mistrust and disagreement. But, their relation highly deteriorated in the past 5 subsequent months—particularly after Machar was removed from his power (Vice Presidency).

Machar is from the minority Nuer ethnic group, and alleges that Dinka, the largest ethnic group in the country and which Kiir is from, dominates the governing party and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). In addition to this criticism, Machar alleges that Kiir has a “soft heart” to Sudan and contradicts the SPLM’s vision. Machar is also known for criticizing Kiir for showing dictatorial behaviours.

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