The Reasons of the Current Armed Violence in South Sudan

Sudan gained its independence from the Great Britain in 1956. Since that time, it has been facing the longest civil wars in Africa. It has been involved in ethnic, religious conflicts between the ruling political factions in Khartoum and the Southern rebel groups. According to the former rebel commander, Joseph Lago, the first armed insurgency actually started on 20 September 1963.

After thirty years of civil war, the conflict was resolved by the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement, which gave significant regional autonomy to the southern Sudan on internal issues. The Second Civil War exploded in 1983 due to the longstanding issues heightened by then president Jaafar Nimeiri’s decision to introduce Sharia law. The clashes broke out between North and South Sudan again, under the direction of John Garang’s Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), after Sudanese President Jaafar Numeiri abolished South Sudan’s autonomy. The conflict was ended by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was signed by the ruling party in Khartoum (National Congress Party) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). After 6 years of peace, Southern Sudanese referendum was held in January 2011, when 98% public voted for independence and as a consequence the Republic of South Sudan was declared in 2011. Unfortunately, the Third Civil War started just years after the independence of South Sudan between two biggest tribes (Dinka – Nuer tribes) in the country. The main reasons of this civil war can be examined as following.

The Ethnic (Tribal) Conflicts

SPLM’s directors are members of different tribes of South Sudan ( Dinka, Nuer, Shouluk…) For instance, Salva Kiir’s (the President of SPLM) most populated tribe in South Sudan is Dinka tribe, Riek Machar’s tribe is Nuer whilst the General secretary of SPLM, Bagan Amom comes from Shouluk tribe. These three tribes are the largest tribes in South Sudan, and since Lado’s  Kingdom they are hostile to each other. In our opinon, the only reasons to unite against tribes is the hostility of the Government of Khartoum and the foreign aids.

The history witnessed those tribes fighting each other due to simple reasons. And those tribal wars resulted in thousands of deaths of innocent people. However, results of those wars later resulted in increasing hostility between the tribes.

The Absence of the Charismatic Leader

Johne Garang is the founder of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. He also managed to unite all those tribes. He graduated from Grinnell College in 1969 and studied at the Faculty of Economics of the University of California at. Garang won the hearts of all tribes in South Sudan. He had a New Sudan Vision plan. The plan included secularized Sudan that was supposed to be extinguished from the Islamic and Arab unity. The implementation of this plan was never easy because the government in Khartoum is adopting the ideology of Islam and defending Islam and Sharia. After 22 years of armed struggle ( period from 1983 up to 2005 ) , Garang signed a peace treaty with Khartoum Government  in Nayruby in 2005 and returned back to Khartoum. The most shocking thing is that he died 22 days later in helicopter’s crash on the Sudan – Uganda border.

Who’s behind the Garang’s death?

Uganda always had supported Garang in his struggle of the Sudanese government. But the Sudanese government holds Ugandan intelligence responsible for his death. The fact was that the helicopter belonged to Ugandan intelligence and in the time of accident he was returning back to Sudan from Uganda. With Garang’s death, Uganda aimed to create chaos in Sudan. As expected, there were hundreds of people killed in Khartoum. So Uganda’s plan was successful and Salva Kiir became the head of SPLM. Some leaders of SPLM did not want Salva Kiir to be the president of SPLM. The separation has started between the SLPM’s leaders and they blamed each other for being responsible for Garang’s death.


The CPA formalized a power-sharing system between the SPLM and the ruling political faction National Congress Party in Khartoum. The both parties established a federal system in Sudan and held seats in a National Unity Government. The South, ruled by SPLM shared % 50 of oil revenues. With  the declamation of independence in 2011, % 75 of oil revenues stayed in South Sudan, but the South Sudanese government chose the armaments for development.

A portion of oil revenues has been used for the share due to the generals of Sudan People’s Liberation Army who are leading SPLM. Salva Kiir has provided a great opportunity for them, for example, villas, high salaries and similar.

South Sudan is perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to transparency International annual Corruption  perceptions Index.2014. according to America Aljazeera ( Many experts would agree that South Sudan—the world’s newest country, officially created in July 2011—owes its existence to support from politicians, advocates and activists from outside its borders ) [3]

The Proliferation of Weapons

For 50 years of Civil War, all tribes in South Sudan have had guns, and also since it has been the traditional thing for them. After the declaration of independence, weapons collections plan had been started by the government, but it has not been managed to collect all the weapons.

Last but not Least

South Sudan formed an aggressive relation with Sudan which recognized them as a state. Even the President Elbashir attended celebration of South Sudan Independence.  But by cutting the electricity, immediately they cut his speech and this was a predicted bad faith of the SPLM’s government. Besides that, without solving  all problems of the borders between Sudan and South Sudan, the self – determination was declared. Maybe this problem will be a reason for a conflict between two countries in future, according to FM assistant of  the President of Sudan Nafi Ali Nafi[5].

All in all the Civil War in Africa became a usual thing for all the Africans because the African States were established in the era of the colonialism whilst the Africans did not know the meaning of the statehood. On top of that, these are not the only problems. There are other problems like the crisis of the national integration among African communities.



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İbrahim NASSIR
İbrahim NASSIR
1988 yılında Sudan’ın Kassala şehrinde doğmuştur. İlkokulu ve liseyi Kassala’da okuduktan sonra Sudan – Türkiye arasındaki anlaşma kapsamında lisans eğitimini almak için 2008 yılında Türkiye’ye gelmiştir. 2013 yılında Türkiye Polis Akademisi Güvenlik Bilimleri Fakültesi’nden lisans derecesini almıştır. Türkiye–Afrika ilişkileri konusunda bir çok panel ve konferensa konuşmacı olarak katılmıştır. Uluslararası alanda bir çok akademik çalışmada bulundu. Ulusal düzeyde çeşitli radyo ve televizyon programlarına katılmıştır. Yüksek Lisansını Yıldırım Beyazıt Üniversitesi’nde Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkileri Bölümü’nde yapmaktadır. Afrika, Ortadoğu ve İran Çalışmaları başlıca ilgi alanlarını oluşturmaktadır. İyi derecede İngilizce ve Türkçe bilmektedir.