Anniversary without celebration: South Sudan marks 10th anniversary of statehood
This Friday, the Republic of South Sudan celebrates the 10th anniversary of its independence from the Republic of Sudan on 9 July 2011. Due to Covid-19, there will be no official celebrations, as announced by the Council of Ministers, which also postponed the swearing-in of the interim legislation indefinitely. A day of joy in itself, is overshadowed by the enormous challenges that the youngest nation in Africa still faces today: The country suffers from the consequences of a civil war and faces great economic difficulties: 60 percent of the population still need humanitarian aid ten years after independence, more than two million people have fled to neighbouring countries, and 1.3 million people live as internally displaced persons in their own country. In 2005, the civil war parties from the North and South of the former Sudan had agreed on a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA). After almost 99 percent of the population voted in favour of separation from the Republic of Sudan and an independent state in January 2011, the South was granted independence on 9 July 2011. However, just two years later, in December 2013, the country plunged once again into civil war, which only ended in 2018 with a peace agreement. It would take another two years until a (fragile) government of national unity was formed last year, led by long-time President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar. Kiir has not succeeded in uniting the population of about twelve million people and bringing the approximately 60 or so ethnic groups closer together during his ten years in power as president of South Sudan. Elections have also been repeatedly postponed and are now scheduled to take place in 2023. Revenues from the country’s considerable oil reserves have been used to finance a security apparatus. The building of state institutions that would be dedicated to the welfare of the population, on the other hand, has been neglected. Kiir himself attributes the difficult social and economic situation to the sanctions imposed by the international community. He claims that they deprive South Sudan of income and contribute to the impoverishment of the population.
Further information on the topic and a recording of our event “10th Anniversary of South Sudan’s Independence: Broken Promises, Current Challenges and the Way Forward” from 1 July 2021 can be found here.
SADC delegation calls off mediation mission in Eswatini
Africa’s last absolutist kingdom, Eswatini, has seen pro-democracy protests in recent weeks. The small landlocked state in southern Africa, formally called “Swaziland”, has been ruled by King Mswati III for over three decades. For a long time, there has been great discontent among the country’s population about his way of governing; the king is accused of oppression, exploitation and human rights violations. This has already led to riots in previous years. After violent and destructive riots between regime critics and military forces last week, the internet was shut down. The human rights organisation Amnesty International reported at least 20 deaths and many injured by police violence during the protests. In response, a small delegation from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) travelled to the country last weekend aiming to control the political conflict. However, the mission was aborted after a short time when it was revealed that the commission’s civil society spokespersons, appointed by the Eswatini government, had seamless connections to the royal family. The United Nations also expressed concern about the deadly riots and called for an independent investigation into all alleged rights violations. Although the situation has calmed down in the meantime, according to Liz Throssell, press officer of the UN Human Rights Office, the situation in the country remains volatile; further riots by both sides are possible. Although shops have reopened in Eswatini since the beginning of this week, a night curfew remains in force for the time being.
In other news
The Ecole de Peinture Poto-Poto, the most renowned art school in the Republic of Congo, is celebrating its seventeeth anniversary this week. Located in Moungali, a district of the capital Brazzaville, the academy was founded in 1951 and was thus not only one of the first art institutions of its kind in Congo, but in all of Central Africa. The spectrum of art works ranges from colourful oil paintings to cartoon-like depictions of daily life. However, due to the economic consequences of the Corona pandemic in the country, the artists are currently finding it difficult to find a market for their works. Therefore, the heads of the art school are hoping for new perspectives, which could be created by a virtual gallery that is currently being set up and financed by UNESCO.
From 16-17 July, this year’s African Book Festival will take place at Berlin’s open-air cinema Rehberge. The third edition of the festival makes up for the cancelled event from 2020 and is planned with an audience. Curated by Kalaf Epalanga, this year’s festival focuses on Lusophone literature. In particular, works from Angola will be the focus of the event.