South Sudan – what does the future hold for the newborn nation?


By Millie Cartwright

The Republic of South Sudan was awash with celebrations this weekend as it became officially independent from the North following a landslide referendum in February this year, when 99 per cent of South Sudanese voted for independence.

Juba, the new capital, was packed with dignitaries and officials to mark the new county’s creation. Among them was the new President of Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, the UK ambassador for the Republic, Alistair McPhaill OBE and UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon.

Sudan’s president Omar al Bashir was the first to officially recognise the new country and bless his "brothers in the south". But, he warned, "brotherly relations depended on secure borders and non-interference in each others’ affairs".

Only hours after secession, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party deployed troops to the ‘flashpoint states’ in the areas surrounding South Kordofan and Blue Nile that have been at the centre of fierce fighting and conflict. Despite the governmen’s insistence that such an exercise is ‘routine’, the timing appears to be a show of force over the new South.

Salva Kiir’s speech at the celebrations balanced the need to maintain relations with Bashir whilst asserting the country’s newly-found independence: "Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan we have not forgotten you. When you cry, we cry,” he said.

The new president also granted amnesty to those who fought against him. At the same time, Bashir has revoked the citizenship of all South Sudanese who live in the north.

Despite agreement over independence, there are still logistical considerations that need to be addressed between the two countries. With disputes over oil, national borders and citizenship, the 193rd country of the world has a lot of problems to resolve if it wants to shake off the ‘pre-failed state label.’ With analysts less than optimistic about the country’s prospects of doing so, the reality of independence is becoming increasingly clear.

Tomorrow night will be discussing what the future holds for North and South Sudan with an expert panel that includes: Lindsey Hilsum who has just returned from South Sudan; Lord Teverson, chair of the House of Lords EU Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee which as just published ‘The EU and Sudan: On the Brink of Change; Dr Ahmed al-Shahi co-founder of the Sudan Programme at Oxford University and Natznet Tesfay, head of Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis Ltd.

The event will be chaired by Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal African Society.