Photo: Reuters, courtesy the Thomson Reuters Foundation – AlertNet
Sudan has been riddled with conflict since its independence in 1956. The 22-year civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army came to an end in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The culmination of this agreement was a January 2011 referendum in which 4 million southern Sudanese people chose between secession from the north or unity. The southern Sudanese people voted overwhelmingly for separation, with more than 98 percent in favor of forming a new country. On July 9, 2011 South Sudan became its own country.
Since South Sudan’s Independence
Since the split, South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan (commonly referred to as just Sudan) have continued to spar with one another. With its independence, South Sudan took 75 percent of the oil reserves; however, to export the oil South Sudan must use Sudan’s pipelines. The two countries, both of which are heavily reliant on oil revenues, dispute how best to share the proceeds.
In January 2012, the negotiations on how to share oil revenues broke down, and South Sudan shut down its oil production, and slashed public spending making it all the more difficult to establish the social, economic and governmental infrastructure that the country desperately needs. This and other unresolved issues, including border demarcation, have brought the two countries to the brink of all-out war, notably with the southern invasion of Heglig in April 2012.
As South Sudan seeks to protect its borders and security interests, the needs of it people have too-often fallen by the wayside, with only seven percent of the government’s budget going to education and four percent going to health.
Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who seized power in a 1983 bloodless coup, imposed tough economic austerity measures following the succession of South Sudan. These austerity measured have sparked protests by the youth of the country.
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