ON TUESDAY, South Sudan
was two years old as a nation. It became independent on 9 July
2011, after conducting a referendum earlier that year. The vote was
a cardinal part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which
marked the end of a 21-year second civil war, during which more
than two million people died, and more than 4.4 million were
The CPA, signed in 2005,
specified an interim period of six years, after which the people of
South Sudan would choose between unity with or secession from north
Sudan. On 7 February 2011, the referendum commission published its
final results, announcing that 98.83 per cent had voted in favour
of independence. As a result, the Republic of South Sudan came into
There was joy and
celebration throughout the country on attaining independence. Two
years later, however, it faces significant challenges. One of the
main issues remains the relationship between South Sudan and Sudan.
This is mainly because of the failure to resolve pending questions
by the end of the interim period, including the border, the status
of the Abyei region, and the processing of oil.
The South Sudanese
government closed down oil production in January 2012, alleging
that the government in the north, in Khartoum, had stolen some of
the oil due to South Sudan, and that it was demanding
unrealistically high transit fees. At the time, oil represented 98
per cent of government revenue. The government has pursued
austerity measures, cutting its expenditure drastically.
This has greatly affected
the public services that are so badly needed. South Sudan has some
of the worst social indicators in the world. The maternal and
infant mortality rate in particular is sky-high. Many areas do not
have primary or secondary schools. Human resources are crucial in
developing the country. Functioning tertiary colleges and
universities are vital, but the few universities that do exist face
severe funding constraints.
Shortage of revenue also
affects the construction of infrastructure. In 2012, there were 198
km of paved highways in South Sudan. The late leader of the Sudan
People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), Dr John Garang, used to say
that there have been no tarmac roads in South Sudan since the time
of Adam and Eve. It takes seven hours to cover the 75 miles from my
diocese to the capital, Juba.
On 27 September last
year, the presidents of South Sudan and Sudan signed an agreement,
after negotiations brokered by the African Union. They agreed to
restart oil production and to create a demilitarised zone along the
After a long delay, oil
production resumed at the beginning of May this year, but on 8
June, the Sudanese President Omar Bashir abruptly ordered the
pipeline to be shut, after warning Juba over its alleged backing
for rebels in Sudan. South Sudan denies supporting such
If implemented, such a
shut-down will happen within 60 days of the date of President
Bashir's order; such a closure will hurt the economies of both
nations. As I write, the Vice President of South Sudan, Dr Riak
Machar Teng, is in Khartoum for talks with the Sudanese government
to resolve the stalemate.
ALSO unresolved is the
issue of Abyei. According to the CPA, a referendum should have been
held in Abyei at the same time as the one in South Sudan, to give
the Dinka Ngok people and other permanent residents the chance to
decide whether it would be included in the North or the South.
Among the reasons for stalled progress, Sudan cites the composition
of Abyei's administration, and the rights of Mesiriya tribes.
persist in some parts of South Sudan. The Church is leading efforts
to help communities to be reconciled. Last year, the Archbishop of
the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng
Bul, led a committee that brokered peace in Jonglei State; but the
rebellion of a group led by David Yaw Yaw is of continuing
Again, in April this
year, the President of South Sudan appointed a 25-member committee,
headed by Dr Deng, to spearhead a national process of
reconciliation and peace (News, 19 April).
THE Church continues to
meet the spiritual and physical needs of the people in other ways,
including by providing educational and health services.
There is a need to
improve agricultural production, instead of relying on imported
food. In 2012, local food production increased in most parts of
South Sudan; some areas, however, were affected by floods, which
destroyed crops before they could be harvested.
There is no reliable
source of electric energy in most areas. Generators are commonly
used; the shortage of fuel has meant that many towns have been
without power. The government has talked of plans for hydroelectric
generation on the Nile. I believe that this would be the best way
Over the border in Sudan,
the humanitarian situation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile
regions is reported to be worsening because of the refusal of the
Khartoum government to allow humanitarian access to these
It is important for the
international community to exert pressure on the two governments to
implement the September 2012 agreement, so that the pending issues
of the CPA are concluded.
The situation in Darfur,
Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile continues to cause concern. Many
people from these areas have been displaced internally or have
crossed into neighbouring countries as refugees. Pressure should
also be exerted on the government of Sudan, the SPLM-North, and
other groups fighting in Sudan to hold negotiations to bring an end
to the suffering of the people in these regions.
The Rt Revd Anthony Poggo is the Bishop of Kajo-Keji in the
Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS). The ECS covers Sudan and South