Pre-emptive repression in South Sudan

Two prominent activists in South Sudan—Augustino Ting Mayai of the local Sudd Institute and Kuel Aguer Kuel, former governor of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State—were arrested Aug. 2 for calling for a peaceful uprising to end the country’s state of “political bankruptcy.” They were part of a coalition of civil society groups that declared South Sudan has “had enough” of a decade of failed leadership, marked by civil war and widespread hunger. The coalition called for the resignation of both President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, arch-rivals now uneasy bedfellows in a unity government.

Underlining the growing instability, a power struggle has broken out within Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition (SPLM-IO). The SPLM-10 chief of staff, Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual, announced Machar’s ousting on Aug. 3, claiming he no longer represented the interests of the movement. Machar, a veteran warlord, said he wasn’t budging. A 2018 peace agreement, ending a five-year civil war that killed 400,000 people, is increasingly frayed. A new transitional parliament was finally sworn in Aug. 4, but there’s been little progress on a unified national army, and disillusionment runs deep. As insecurity worsens in the countryside, with aid workers ambushed and killed, UN peacekeepers have begun escorting humanitarian convoys.

From The New Humanitarian, Aug. 6

Map: Perry-Castañeda Library