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A bitter ‘happy birthday’ for warring South Sudan

 

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir prays at the John Garang Memorial in Juba during events marking the third anniversary of South Sudan’s independence. Andrea Campeneau/Reuters

South Sudan marked its third anniversary of independence amid a civil war that has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 1 million. So the birthday mood in the world’s newest nation does not resemble the complete jubilation of recent years.

In the capital of Juba yesterday, independence celebrations were large – but the pride on display was sharply mixed with ambivalence and disappointment. The festivities stood in stark contrast with the hope a year ago of a bright future for an oil- and water-rich land, and the widely shared sense now that the country’s leaders have failed.

The public sentiment was articulated by “Fox,” a man draped head to toe in South Sudanese flags: “Today I’m happy…[but] I’m crying from this war…. I feel fifty-fifty.”  Read more…

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S. Sudan factions agree to talk, while guns still bark

Nairobi, Kenya  South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar and the nation’s president Salva Kiir have agreed to negotiate after two weeks of bitter fighting that has brought the world’s newest nation to the brink of an extended civil war.

Yet fighting is apparently continuing as government forces under Mr. Kiir were engaged at least up to a deadline designed to trigger military intervention by neighboring African states, backed by the international community.

Forces loyal to Mr. Machar, the former vice-president, have been trying to take the town of Bor, a regional capitol and lucrative center of oil production, as strategic leverage.  Read more…