South Sudan celebrates first independence day

[JURIST] South Sudan [BBC News backgrounder; JURIST news archive] celebrated its first anniversary on Monday, marking one year since it seceded [JURIST report] from northern Sudan [BBC News backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to become the world's newest nation. President Salva Kiir [BBC News profile] marked his nation's first independence day with an address to assembled dignitaries and a crowd of cheering South Sudanese citizens [Reuters report] in the capital city Juba, calling on the nation to become more "economically independent" moving forward. Regardless of the celebration, many in landlocked South Sudan have been disappointed in their hopes for prosperity since the secession, in which the South took with it approximately 75 percent of Sudan's rich oil reserves. Over the past year the two nations have been embroiled in violent border disputes, as well as disagreements over how much the South should pay in transit fees for sending oil through the pipelines that still travel across northern Sudan. In the South itself corruption scandals amounting to billions of US dollars and the shutoff of oil production due to the pipeline disagreements has resulted in a funding shortfall for basic services. According to Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website; press release] these unresolved issues stem from poor leadership in Juba and Khartoum in Sudan. AI claims the outstanding issues have led to increased tension and conflict, that there exists a destabilizing presence of multiple armed opposition groups within the South and that a large influx of refugees from the war-torn northern border regions has created humanitarian crises regarding limited access to food, water and shelter, as well as exposure to risk of human rights abuses.

Last week the UN Security Council [official website] adopted a resolution granting a one-year mandate extension [JURIST report] for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] through June 15, 2013. Also last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on South Sudan to mark its first anniversary [HRW report] by releasing all unlawfully detained prisoners, guaranteeing freedom of speech and ratifying all key international human rights treaties. In late June UNMISS urged South Sudan to adopt a plan to prevent further inter-communal violence [JURIST report] in Jonglei State, providing nine recommendations for the country to avoid similar violence and conflicts in the future, including the development a "comprehensive, multi-sectorial plan with short, medium and long-term actions to respond to the main causes of the violence in Jonglei State" while maintaining support for the peace process that has already launched. In April the Sudanese government declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] on the South Sudan border after the arrest of four people who the Sudanese claim were arrested for aggression against the north in the contested Heglig oil fields.

 

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