Mustapha Ajbaili: South Sudan has won the war, but will it win the peace?


South Sudan has won independence after long years of a devastating war that killed, wounded and displaced thousands of people. But the real challenge for the world’s youngest country has just begun. Winning the peace is often much harder than winning the war. On July 9, South Sudan joined the club of internationally recognized states, but how many states have turned into failed states due to rampant poverty, diseases, illiteracy, corruption, and civil wars.

Half of South Sudan’s near 9 million population lives on less than a dollar per day, and illiteracy rates are more than 70 percent. Reliable healthcare services and economic infrastructure is almost non-existent. Half of the population is under the age of 18 and most young people were brought up in a culture of war and with little experience in peace. The challenge for South Sudan is that of construction not of reconstruction.

The country certainly has the kind of natural resources it needs to build itself, ensure security for its citizens and develop ties with its neighbors based on shared interests. But the leaders of the African continent – or at least many of them – tend to lose focus after they ascend to power. Often times, they become adjusted to injustice and entangled in webs of corruption with international oil and security firms.

The challenge ahead of the nascent country is enormous and independence is only the beginning. Statehood, however, offers the kind of hope for a better future that unity with the north Sudan could not deliver and so long as there is hope, there is future however long this may take.

(Mustapha Ajbaili, Night Editor of Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: [email protected])