The first week since the announcement of the Sudanese referendum result hasn’t been as triumphant as many people were hoping it would be. In fact South Sudan’s celebrations, which begun after last Monday’s announcement, have been short-lived.
This last week has seen the murder of the South’s Co-operatives and Rural Development Minister Jimmy Lemi Milla in what is thought to be a personal rather than political dispute. In addition, clashes flared up again in the South’s Jonglei state between forces loyal to George Athor (a rogue rebel leader in the south) and South Sudan’s army. Mr. Athor previously took up arms last year, alleging fraud in state elections, but he signed a ceasefire last month just before the referendum vote. However last Wednesday fighting in the region resumed, with more than 100 people reportedly killed, of which 39 are thought to be civilians.
In separate clashes another 54 people were killed during fighting on the weekend in Southern Sudan’s oil-rich Upper Nile state. For many in the South there are still many unresolved issues and tension remains high along the oil-rich border regions. These issues have been highlighted by some as another sign of the extreme difficulties that the South faces. Stressing that the South will struggle to effectively govern itself and bring its people together by July 9 without coordinated and long-term international support.
There has been some encouraging news however.
It is reported that the UK and US are seriously looking into the potential for debt relief for the region. While this will be a long process, debt relief should free up finances for the South, and would be extremely useful for helping tackle some of the difficult internal conflicts and infrastructure needs.
In other news the South is moving closer to finalizing a name. The ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the South has officially adopted “South Sudan” as a name for the new state whose existence will be formalized on July 9, 2011. This is an important step in helping the South develop their own unified identity and so hopefully unify the citizens in tackling their own internal problems.