Five challenges South Sudan will face after referendum
Although some results from South Sudan's referendum still need to be made official, Sudanese and international observers are beginning to look ahead to what comes with independence.
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Oil is the primary driver of Sudan’s economy. The US Energy Information Administration says, “In 2009, according to the International Monetary Fund, oil represented over 90 percent of export earnings. For South Sudan (Juba), oil represented 98 percent of total revenues for the year compared to Khartoum at 65 percent.” The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 (which provided for the referendum) established a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement between North and South, but now the two countries will have to negotiate a new agreement on revenues. Addressing issues like transparency, a report released in early January argued, will be key to establishing trust and peace between North and South, who must rely on each other when it comes to oil: Three-quarters of the oil is in the South, but the North has the pipelines and refineries.Skip to next paragraph
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In addition to this challenge, South Sudan has its own internal challenges when it comes to oil revenues: accusations of government corruption and continued poverty in the midst of rising government income threaten to increase public discontent with the Government of South Sudan. Fast growth has led to income inequality and a sense of chaos in Juba. South Sudan will have to use oil revenues carefully in achieving development and building a unified society.
3. Integration and Citizenship
Who is a citizen in South Sudan? With refugees and members of the diaspora returning from near and far, and with everyone in the new country pondering its political future, South Sudan will need to develop a basis for national integration, citizenship, and unity that relies on more than just opposition to the North. Maggie Fick captures this problem poignantly:
A Southern Sudanese told me that “the referendum is the only thing that united us southerners.” He believes that one of the hardest tasks of the southern government in the coming years will be to create the idea of being a Southern Sudanese citizen—an idea that will arguably be foreign to many ofthese citizens.
After my friend made the above comment, he proceeded to give me an extensive history lesson on “the struggle,” speaking with pride and deep knowledge about the causes of the south’s two post-independence rebellions against regimes in Khartoum. He drew upon stories of battles fought in areas of the south that he has never visited but that appear vividly in his oral retelling of years of bloody conflict that eventually led to the south gaining the chance to decide its own destiny in a self-determination vote.
If this isn’t pride for a nation and in a group of people than I don’t know what is.
But the new Southern Sudan will be about more than the struggle of the past, and it will be a new struggle for the new country’s leaders to forge a path that includes not only those groups who fought in the war but also those people who were born in refugee camps in East Africa, who grew up in Nebraska, who studied at Oxford and who drive motorcycle taxis in Juba.
Picking the country’s name (it may well remain “South Sudan”), national anthem, flag, and emblem is a first step, but crafting national unity and integrating newcomers will take a long time.