Is South Sudan’s disintegration inevitable?


Potential harms of disintegration must be weighed against consequences of holding South Sudan together by force.

Date: JULY 09, 2024

South Sudan is a failing state rapidly rushing toward disintegration.

Whether violently or through carefully achieving a harmonious breakaway, the disintegration of  South Sudan appears to be inevitable. The real question is not if South Sudan will disintegrate, but when and how.This reality traps South Sudan between a rock and a hard place. There is a real possibility of either the status quo or disintegration leading to all-out war with unimaginably devastating consequences for South Sudan and the Horn of Africa.

Undertaking more optimistically, nations or regions within South Sudan may avert the violent bloodshed by opting for an orderly, negotiated breakaway to form independent nation-states. If done properly, it might lead to a better outcome than what has transpired in South Sudan over the last decade.

So far, the international community has operated under the assumption that South Sudan is too heavy to fail. The focus should instead be on ensuring the country’s inevitable disintegration transpires in a manner that averts the looming danger of violence in favor of a smooth and orderly birthing of new democratic states.

This option would require international powers to abandon their commitment to holding states together in places like South Sudan, no matter the cost. A better approach would be to support and broker an all-inclusive dialogue to avert undue bloodshed and bring about an orderly coming apart of the Fascists SPLM’S factions or regime in Juba.

Present  Obstacles

The challenges of breaking  a country part must nonetheless be recognized and include the potential to trigger of mass migration across the newly drawn borders, the eruption of conflict within and between the divided states, and quarrels over the

division of land and assets between the leaders of these three regions or states of South Sudan.

However, such challenges pale in comparison to a violent process of disintegration that resembles former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. There, after much bloodshed, promising new nation states have at least emerged.

The barriers to ensuring this disintegration happens peacefully, though, include SPLM led regime, who would stop at nothing to try and hold South Sudan together, and quarrelsome ethnic elites, who lay claim to territories that rightfully belong to other ethics identities.

The status of Juba, known as Jubek in Baari language, is another particularly intractable sticking point. Equatorians nationalists claim it as the center of their traditional institutions and envision it as the capital of a federated, or independent Republic of Equatoria state.

SPLM elites also make claims to ownership of the capital. The reality is that no colonizer willingly gives up its claim on the colonized unless they are forced to.

Another reality is that, although Equatorians nationalists claim Jubek as the center of their indigenous homeland, it has since become a multiethnic capital that is the political, administrative, diplomatic, social, and economic hub of South Sudan, and so convincing any central government to relinquish power over it would be a tall order.

Cycle of war

The main argument in favor of striving for an orderly disintegration relates to the cycle of war created by constant efforts to hold South Sudan together.

South Sudan was created as a independent state in 2011 through Referendum vote with the assistance of international supervised interventions. Multipronged wars of resistance waged by Upper Nilians and Equatorians regions against SPLM led system, even before the independence of the Republic of South Sudan.

The ongoing wars of resistance, the fragmented South Sudanese regions or states were centralized by SPLM, came to wield state power, and settled their people in the territories of other regions or states.

The land grabbers were given or taken land from the other people, regions or states, while the, language, culture, political systems, and way of life of the grabbers are promoted and those of the colonized regions or states are being suppressed.

The neo-colonization of Upper Nile and Equatoria regions also involved creating a system of quasi-serfdom where the land of the conquered peoples was converted into the property of the grabbers neo-colonialists.

The aftereffects of these wars of conquest of land remain simmering, sometimes in the dark, hidden from plain view, and other times in the open for anyone to see.

The conflicts will never end, nor are their ills addressed. The grievances remain active, continuous, and uninterrupted. In this system of shifting alliances, friends become enemies as quickly as enemies become friends, and one community’s legitimate grievances are often used to justify inflicting harm on others.

South Sudan’s leaders, have all confronted the seeming impossibility of holding South Sudan together without resorting to brute force.

Since 2009, Kiir’s attempts to use state power to pummel recalcitrant regions or states into submission have produced disastrous conflicts, this time in Greater Upper, Great Equatoria regions.

Nevertheless, regional, and international backers – notably – have worked with successive South Sudan regime, providing diplomatic credence along with massive amounts of bilateral, security, and humanitarian aid. This unholy alliance between national and international actors has enabled South Sudan repressive system and undermined the just demands of the colonized nations or regions.

One common refrain of both South Sudanese and African and Western leaders involves highlighting the ills associated with South Sudan’s potential disintegration. These parties keep reminding us that the disintegration of South Sudan is an evil that should be avoided, even if millions perish to avert it.

Status quo

Since Salva Kiir came to power in 2005, multipronged wars have once again erupted between the South Sudan state and its constituent regions or states, namely Greater Upper Nile Region and Greater Equatoria Regions, even with the help of a foreign, bloodthirsty antagonist.

The ongoing hidden war in Greater Upper Nile Region and Greater Equatoria Region was reenergized in 2011by the SPLM leaders within months of South Sudan being well came legitimate State.

Being short-sighted, they failed to imagine a country where all its nations and individual rights are respected. As a result, armed and peaceful resistance by the colonized nations has flourished.

South Sudan had squandered two chances to transform itself: in 2015, 2018 from peace deals. Juba regime had it not wasted these opportunities, and instead forged a democratic order, peaceful coexistence of South Sudan’s constituent nations could have been achieved.

Since 2011, Kiir and his opportunist followers’ aspiration to recapture South Sudan’s so-called ‘glorious’ past thwarted any hope for progress and genuine peace.

Political deadlock

There is a political deadlock caused by the Kiir regime ruling elite’s and some selfish opposition leaders refusal to transform South Sudan’s into a political arrangement that accommodates the country’s diverse nations, languages, cultures, political systems, religions, and worldviews.

Periodically and again, South Sudan has demonstrated its inability to change by accommodating democracy and the rights of national self-determination. Successive South Sudan regimes have instead chosen to imprison and kill their citizens and opponents.

Though now at war, the SPLM factions neither in the government nor in the opposition share an imperial ambition. Their wars against other nations arguably represent the continuation of the wars of conquest at the end of the twenty-one century.

Juba regime or SPLM elites insist on dismantling the multinational federal arrangement, which is embraced by the colonized nations—who support the existing constitution despite being frustrated by its non-implementation since being adopted in 2011.

The ambition of SPLM factions or elites to break Greater Upper Nile and Greater Equatoria regions into pieces, deny the rights of other nationalities, and return South

Sudan to its supposed past glory has put any possibility of saving South Sudan in jeopardy.

Peaceful  disintegration?

South Sudan is at a crossroads and the roads all lead to disintegration. The only real unknown is whether this results from multiple future bloody civil wars or is done through a negotiated orderly breaking apart supported by international actors.

Since the 1980s, the world has seen the birth of new nations. The breakup of the former Yugoslavia was an extraordinarily violent affair that dragged on throughout the 1990s, while Eritrea and South Sudan only became independent following decades of civil war.

The consequences of how these countries were created include simmering tensions in the former Yugoslavia, political instability, intercommunal conflict, and civil wars in Sudan and South Sudan, the Ethio-Eritrean war from 1998-2000.

On the other hand, the splitting apart of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union was accomplished through a negotiated and peaceful breakaway. Regions like Quebec in Canada, Scot Land in UK and more.,… have also peacefully held referendums on the question of secession.

The question is whether the South Sudan regime and its allies are willing to avoid a violent disintegration that costs millions of lives, destroys the meager regional economy, destabilizes the region, and leads to chaotic mass migration.

Opting for a peaceful, orderly breaking apart requires that external powers and others give up their policy of maintaining the political and territorial status quo in South Sudan. This would necessitate moving away from the policy of supporting this autocratic South Sudanese regime regardless of its epic failures and egregious crimes. Although the immense obstacles to achieving a peaceful disintegration must be recognized, they are not insurmountable if external actors support such a process.


General Peter Chuol Gatluak Wur Juer

Chairman and C-IN-C, Principal Founder of Nilotia People’s Movement & Nilotia

People’s Defense Force (NPM-NPDF)

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