South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. The speed with which the SPLM and SPLA collapsed reveals the ephemeral nature of the “big tent” policy. The transition to more broadly representative political and military
institutions clearly remained woefully unfinished, due to the lack of substantive SPLM and SPLA reform. The failure to reconcile political and military grievances that built up during the 1983-2005 civil war was also reflected in the rapid recourse to ethnic violence. Yet, while incomplete, President Kiir’s initial steps to establish multi-ethnic and broadly representative political and military institutions that began in 2006 could serve as the basis of a serious reform process for both institutions. The democratic space that was closed after independence must be reopened urgently to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take root. The difficult challenge of building a stable polity and mending relations between communities requires a long-term commitment from both South Sudanese and international actors.”