After winning independence in July of 2011, Africa’s newest country, South Sudan faces new and threatening challenges that are a direct result of mismanagement and ethnic differences. Additionally, the challenges of building a new country from nothing are proving to be expectedly excessive for a military leader. President Salva Kiir’s recent accusation of his Vice President Riek Machar has caused the first and most severe humanitarian crises the country has had in its short history. This accusation put two of the countries biggest ethnic groups (Nuer and Dinka) against each other in what is really an unnecessary conflict. As a result of the displacement of over 500,000 people and the cruel nature with which this civil unrest has been handled, the international community has exerted pressure on the government of South Sudan and rebel forces to put an end to this conflict. This pressure has resulted, most recently, in a ceasefire between government and rebel forces that has stalled an escalation in the conflict.
A simple exercise in the cost and benefit calculations of rational leaders would show that the costs of attempting a coup d’état clearly outweigh the benefits when the chance of failure is incredibly high. This leads to certain questions whether the accusation was a political move to eliminate future competition for the presidency. If this were the case, the implications would most definitely be a step backward for democracy in South Sudan, a potential topic for further research. If there is anything South Sudan can take away from international history and the birth of nations, it is this: Politics based on ethnic differences does not work. The hope for South Sudanese citizens that have been displaced, the United Nations and neighboring countries is that this ceasefire would be lasting and a stepping stone for greater regional and ethnic stability for the country.