South Sudan: Dawn of a New Nation?
A nervous period awaits for Africa's aspiring independent nation
AS 2011 approaches, South Sudan awaits not only a new year, but the possibility of a new country. January's referendum, in which the South will decide whether to remain with the North or to become independent, brings with it the hope of peace in the region, as well as myriad concerns of a return to civil war. A long history of violence, with oil revenues raising the stakes, leaves the world awaiting the South's democratic strides with bated breath. If the referendum is carried out successfully, chances for stability in the region will look considerably brighter where peaceful transition has proven possible.
Of course, South Sudan cannot morph into a selfsufficient, independent nation overnight. Major General Scott Gration heads off this Feature with an analysis of the diplomatic and developmental initiatives needed to prevent a return to conflict. The referendum can only succeed if political leaders refrain from interfering in the voting process, an uncertain result that requires significant diplomatic pressure. Also of concern are the impoverished conditions that will not disappear with the referendum; stability in the South is only sustainable when the state can provide its people with basic needs. For these reasons, the support of foreign diplomats and aid organizations remains critically important.
Beyond the security needed to carry out the referendum itself, a significant challenge exists in creating a lasting, professional army out of the militia that has been the de facto security provider in the South for decades. …