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South Sudan

Since fighting erupted in Juba in July 2016 and a major rebel faction returned to war, rebel groups have proliferated though conflict is much reduced from its height in 2014. The government’s current strategy can secure Juba but cannot deliver sustainable nationwide peace. Of the millions experiencing hunger due to the conflict’s impact on civilians, the UN declared 100,000 in famine conditions for several months in 2017. Through field-based research and engagement with relevant national, regional and international actors, Crisis Group aims to support humanitarian access and build a new consensus around sustainable peace efforts that address the regionalised nature of the conflict as well as its localised dynamics.

CrisisWatch South Sudan

Deteriorated Situation

Split within VP Riek Machar’s movement sparked deadly violence; govt faced new calls to stand down, and implementation of transitional security arrangements remained stalled. Military leaders from a rural headquarters of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) 3 Aug claimed to have ousted Machar as movement leader over alleged failure to represent group’s interests, appointed Simon Gatwech Dual as interim leader. SPLM/A-IO forces loyal to Machar and Dual’s splinter group 7 Aug clashed in Magenis area, Upper Nile state, reportedly leaving dozens killed; 17 Aug reportedly clashed again in same area. Few SPLM-A/IO commanders elsewhere publicly backed Dual; SPLM/A-IO deputy chairman and Mining Minister Henry Odwar 11 Aug however resigned from govt, next day said he supported Dual. Meanwhile, following months-long delay, Transitional National Legislative Assembly sworn in 2 Aug, paving way for implementing key steps of peace process including constitutional review and electoral preparation. Intergovernmental Authority for Development chairperson, Sudanese PM Abdallah Hamdok, 19-20 Aug failed to broker agreement between President Kiir and Machar on share of signatory groups in unified national army, with Kiir reportedly demanding 60% of recruits be drawn from his forces. After coalition of civil society groups late July called for country’s leadership to resign and mid-Aug called for countrywide anti-govt protests 30 Aug, govt deployed military and police forces in capital Juba, arrested several activists, shut down internet and threatened to use live bullets; streets 30 Aug remained quiet. Kiir 18 Aug accused members of coalition of non-signatory rebel groups South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) of carrying out “terror attacks”, after unidentified gunmen 16 Aug reportedly killed five people on Juba-Nimule road; SSOMA faction led by Thomas Cirillo, National Salvation Front, immediately denied responsibility; Kiir 30 Aug suspended govt’s participation in Rome peace talks with SSOMA, said negotiations would resume when SSOMA “cease killing innocent people”. Intercommunal violence persisted mainly in centre and south: 31 people killed 15-16 Aug in Tonj East county, Warrap state; seven dead 3-4 Aug in Terekeka county, Central Equatoria state; and about 20 killed and over 20,000 displaced late July-late Aug in Western Equatoria state.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

9 Aug 2021
There is still no sign of a broader reset in South Sudanese politics [...] instead, the divisions just keep mounting. New York Times

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
9 Jul 2021
[South Sudan] is just, unfortunately, in a much worse spot than it was 10 years ago. Whenever I talk with various diplomats from different countries [...] they all fear cutting humanitarian aid to South Sudan would just cause more misery. Both the South Sudanese and the outside world feel a bit stuck at the moment. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
13 Aug 2020
Disarmament in South Sudan resembles an abusive counterinsurgency operation, not an orderly collection of arms, which the local militias often resist giving up. The New York Times

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
8 May 2020
The disagreement between Kiir and Machar has endangered the gains made toward a lasting peace. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
20 Feb 2020
"[South Sudan president Kiir and former rebel leader Machar] still have much to work through, but Machar was unlikely to extract more significant concessions before forming the government. Reuters

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
16 Feb 2020
[In South Sudan] the dispute over the configuration of states became a major impasse blocking the peace process from moving towards a unity government. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan

Latest Updates

Podcast / Africa

Inside the Region’s Struggle for Peace in South Sudan

This week on The Horn, Alan Boswell is joined by Betty Bigombe, Uganda’s special envoy to South Sudan, to discuss the South Sudan peace deal, why it has not been fully implemented yet and how regional mediation needs more South Sudanese participants.

Op-Ed / Africa

Why the World’s Newest Country Has Only Known Conflict

Few nations have seen their dreams and hopes dashed as quickly and ruthlessly as South Sudan. As the country approaches its 10-year anniversary, the risk of a return to full-blown conflict is never far away.

Originally published in World Politics Review

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Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan
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