Options for a S. Sudan in crisis: ‘Party split, state failure, or … genuine multi-party democracy’

Special to WorldTribune.com

CAIRO — The new state of South Sudan has been heading toward a split, a report said.

The Sudd Institute said South Sudan’s ruling movement has been paralyzed by a crisis that has resulted in mass firings in Juba.

South Sudan president Salva Kiir.
South Sudan president Salva Kiir.

In a report, the institute said President Salva Kiir, head of the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement, faces a formidable opposition, which he sought to resolve by
dismissing his entire 29-member Cabinet.

“If the current power struggle within the SPLM continues unabated, it is certainly bound to have far-reaching consequences,” the report, titled “SPLM
Leadership Contest,” said. “This could include a possible party split, state failure, or a remote chance of emergence of a genuine multi-party democracy.”

The report by the Juba-based institute was published amid the biggest internal crisis in South Sudan, launched in 2011. On July 23, Kiir began dismissing his political rivals, most of whom are senior figures in SPLM. They included Vice President Riek Machar and chief negotiator Pagan Amum.

Both Amum and Machar were seen as challengers to Kiir in SPLM elections
scheduled for 2015. But the report, authored by Abraham Awolich and Zacharia
Diing Akol, said Kiir’s move threatened Juba’s relations with powerful
tribes represented in the ousted Cabinet.

“Moreover, if the 2010 elections serve as an example, a violent split in
the party may lead to spontaneous rebellions and possibly a civil war, which
will certainly arrest development and undermine peace and stability in
an-already economically fragile environment,” the report, dated July 23,

South Sudan has been kept afloat by loans from the European Union and
the United States. Kiir was said to have come under
criticism for tolerating corruption and providing the military with at least
60 percent of the government budget.

Sudd said the crisis could return South Sudan to another civil war based
on tribal and ethnic divisions. The report stressed that Kiir, a former
military commander, failed to use the more than $10 billion in crude oil
sales over the last two years to modernize the country.

“The divorce may take a violent form, which may further divide the
country along ethnic lines,” the report said. “If the cracks take ethnic
lines and violence ensues as a result, the state may become dysfunctional,
giving way to a large-scale ethnic violence.”