South Sudan’s Post-Independence Journey Marked By Challenges

After decades of struggle, South Sudan declared independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. In the past 12 years, the country has experienced some achievements but still faces formidable obstacles.

DW looks at the significant events that have shaped South Sudan since its historic declaration of independence.

Birth of a nation

  • On July 9, 2011, South Sudan gained independence, becoming the world’s newest country.
  • Salva Kiir Mayardit was then sworn in as the first president of South Sudan.

The journey begins

  • On July 14, 2011, South Sudan joined the United Nations gaining international recognition as a sovereign state.
  • The Transitional Constitution was adopted after independence to create the groundwork for democratic rule.

Economic challenges

  • In 2013, South Sudan experienced a severe economic downturn due to dropping oil prices.
  • Attempts to diversify the economy begin, emphasizing agriculture and non-oil sectors.

Political instability

  • In December 2013, a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar erupted, escalating into a civil war.
  • Peace treaties were negotiated in the following years, resulting in periods of relative calm followed by renewed clashes pitting government soldiers against rebels backing Machar.

Humanitarian crisis

  • The civil unrest triggered a severe humanitarian crisis, displacing millions and inflicting widespread starvation and suffering
  • International humanitarian groups move in to help afflicted populations.

Peace agreements

  • In 2015, the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) was signed, bringing hope for long-term peace.
  • The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was signed in 2018, restoring commitment to peace.

Refugee crisis

  • South Sudan’s instability led to a massive refugee crisis, with neighboring countries hosting millions of displaced people.
  • Since April 2023, an ongoing armed conflict in Sudan between government troops and the paramilitary RSF has further exacerbated the refugee crisis in South Sudan, with tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees fleeing to South Sudan.