Faltering security snarls agenda
JUBA - Long before the referendum results were announced with a resounding 98 percent of southern Sudanese voting for independence, there was a media debate on the future name of Africa’s 54th state.
Now that search for the new country’s name may have come to an end, when the dominant and liberation party, the SPLM, proposed the name "South Sudan". The decision was announced by the party’s Secretary General Pagan Amum, after a meeting of the party’s politburo meeting.
Although the referendum was hailed by the international community as credible, choosing a name for the new country is one of the requirements for it to be recognized.
Die-hard separatists used the name "South Sudan" unofficially even during the war and the interim period, arguing that "South Sudan" denotes a political entity, whereas "southern Sudan" is a mere geographical location.
The SPLM proposal is subject for discussion by other political parties in southern Sudan before it is finally endorsed.
According to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that was signed in Kenya in 2005 and that ended the two-decade civil war in the Sudan, South Sudan will become fully independent on July 9, 2011.
With only three months to go, the south faces many challenges. One of these is the drafting of a permanent constitution. Already a committee has been appointed by the president of the Government of southern Sudan Salva Kiir to review the constitution process.
Meanwhile, the demarcation of the north-south border and the contested Abyei area will start its work later this month.
However the biggest challenge facing Kiir’s administration is insecurity in the region. In the last seven days, more than 100 people, mainly civilians, were killed in Greater Upper Nile when forces of a renegade military commander George Athor engaged the southern army, the SPLA.
Athor took to the bush and formed an armed rebellion in mid 2010 after he was defeated in the gubernatorial elections in Jonglei state. He claims votes were stolen.
Last week about 23 villagers were killed at Mvolo in Western Equatoria state in communal violence involving peasant farmers and cattle herders over grazing land.
Last week, the minister for cooperatives and rural development in the Government of southern Sudan, Jim Lemi Milla was gunned down by a former employee over a private matter.
Such cases of insecurity in southern Sudan indicate that many civilians are still in possession of illegal fire arms, an issue the new state will have to grapple with.