Following Sudan's revolution over a year ago, a peace agreement has been signed and political changes are taking shape with increasing speed. But attention must be directed to elements that can make or break peace in Sudan, including dealing with past atrocities, centre-periphery relations and the role of the military in nation building. In this eighth part of our series, we explore how Sudan's peace determines the stability in the Red Sea basin.
South Sudan on the verge of civil war
The new African state’s army has split into Dinkas and Nuers. Peter Gadet, a breakaway army commander has led Nuer soldiers into Dinka dominated areas in the town of Bor to fight alleged ill treatment of his tribe.
According to the South Sudan Red Cross Society, over 20 people were killed in fighting in Bor.
“The two main ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer, could go into a full-fledged civil war in the country,” Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United Nations and current president of the Security Council told reporters.
UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said hundreds of civilians have been streaming into UN camps. At least 500 people, mostly soldiers, have been killed around Juba, and 700 more were wounded.
Disagreement between President Salva Kiir and ex-vice-president Riek Machar has led to the ethnic divide and tensions between the Dinkas – and the Nuers.
“This is a political crisis and urgently needs to be dealt with through political dialogue.
“There is a risk of this violence spreading to other states…we have already seen some signs of this,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters.
The infighting and mass arrests of opposition politicians has spread from Juba to the towns of Bor, and Torit. Nuer soldiers have since gained control of the town of Bor.
Meanwhile, the United States has postponed embassy operations as a response to the growing unrest.
On Wednesday two U.S C-130 aircraft flew out 120 evacuees, including 28 foreign diplomats.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office said it was pulling some of its embassy staff out of Juba “due to the current instability”.
Uganda has also temporarily shut its border with South Sudan.
“I spoke to President Salva Kiir yesterday morning urging him to do everything possible he can to end the violence,” Kampala said.
Kiir told a press conference he was ready to talk to Machar to find a solution to the problems.
South Sudan remains ethnically and politically divided, with many active armed groups.
The country has struggled to achieve a stable government since becoming independent from Sudan in 2011.
Since its independence from Sudan in 2011, oil-rich South Sudan remains one of Africa’s least developed countries.
A drawn-out conflict between Dinkas and Nuers could be exploited by neighboring Sudan who depends on South Sudan’s oil fields for its economic stability.