In a recent radio report the BBC have highlighted the political nature of the current conflict in South Sudan, and said that it has been smouldering below the surface for years. (BBC Radio 4 The World Tonight 12th February 2014)
During the last civil war, where rebels in the South fought against the Khartoum government in the North, ethnic identities were manipulated to cause internal division and enable Khartoum to keep a hold of the South. When South Sudan became its own country in 2011 there was rejoicing from all, but deep internal division remained. Furthermore, 20 years of war has left the country greatly underdeveloped.
The violence which erupted with gunfire last December has revealed these divisions and the fragility of the new State. Political differences have been expressed through fighting and violence between forces loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar. President Kiir has previously been criticised for being too autocratic and there are questions about whether he is a suitable peace-time leader.
Caught in the middle are hundreds of thousands of civilians who have fled or been killed. Those still alive face a daily battle against hunger, dehydration and disease.
The BBC report showed signs of hope as there is currently a ceasefire in South Sudan and peace talks are being carried out in Addis Ababa. The rebels, loyal to Machar, demand the release of political detainees and the removal of Ugandan troops from the conflict.
When interviewed by the BBC, the foreign minister of South Sudan Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said that there were no deep divisions in the country, but rather the conflict was caused by an attempted coup led by Machar, who did not like being second in command. He said that Ugandan troops would not be further involved in the conflict and detainees would be released after proper examination. He was hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that fighting has been contained and that peace talks are underway.
Anglican International Development continues to carry out its work in the country, seeing perseverance as crucial to development. Please join us in praying for an end to the current conflict, for good governance, for national unity and for stability which will enable the country to develop in other areas of life such as education and health.
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