OpEd, Politics

On South Sudan Foreign Policy

By Akol Miyen Kuol

Luckily enough, South Sudan was one of the few countries that quickly got recognized by members of the global community even one day ahead of the declaration of independence.

To prove the magnitude of the support that South Sudan enjoyed since its inception, it was recognized by the following countries Sudan, Egypt, Germany, Kenya and America on 8 July 2011 (Wikipedia). One day ahead of the Declaration of Independence! This is really incredible.

Unfortunately, this overwhelming support from the international community did not last long, especially after the breakout of the South Sudan civil war in 2013 when the former freedom fighters and comrades in the struggle turned against each other as a result of the power struggle within the leadership of the ruling party, SPLM, which brought independence.

We lost strong and formidable friends and allies who stood with us at the most critical time of need during our long and protracted years of our struggle for justice, peace, freedom, democracy, development, prosperity, human dignity, rule of law and equal opportunities for all.

The civil war did not allow South Sudanese to taste the dividends of peace, freedom and independence. Instead, people suffered more than when they were under the successive regimes in Khartoum.

Leaders turned against each other, and they used their tribes as tools to achieve their personal and political gains. As a result, the common people paid the price after the individuals started to side with a politician or military general from their tribe against the opponent’s rival.

By doing so, the ruling party SPLM and the country lost direction and purpose and so the political, economic, and security situation got worsened and terribly affected the social life of the common people.

On the diplomatic front, the country lost long-time friends and allies. Normally, internal differences reflect external. So now, it is time for South Sudan to reorganize itself and put its house in order so that it mends its ties once again with members of the international community.

South Sudan is not an island. It cannot develop, prosper or move forward without having good relations with the neighboring countries and the international community.

Now, the time couldn’t be more perfect for South Sudan to move forward and be deemed as a vital member of the global body that can have a say and take part in the decision-making on where the world is going or should be going and help solve the problems facing it.

It should be able to work with the rest of the members of the international community on stabilizing the political and economic situation facing the world and restoring peace and consolidating it.

South Sudan must get settled, organize itself and work together with the international community as an active and effective member in all areas of concern for the common good of all.

All this requires South Sudan to embrace peace, consolidate it at home, build structures, and institutions, adhere to the rule of law, respect human rights and build the economy of the country so that it prospers. However, South Sudan cannot do this alone. It needs to work with the international community.

Therefore, the first start is that South Sudan needs to forge strong and strategic ties with all the neighboring countries: Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic and always deploy strong and well-informed ambassadors to these countries.

Such ambassadors should strengthen ties with these important neighboring countries and woo investors and companies to come and invest in South Sudan in various sectors. We must always remember that, whenever something happens to you, the nearest person who can easily and quickly come to your help or support is your nearest neighbor, be it a person or a country/government.

That is why it is very important for us to review our foreign policy and clearly spell out our priorities. So, we can cooperate with these countries in different areas and further our relations for the people of our countries to all benefit from such special and strong ties in their areas of interest and need.

In addition, we need to restore our friendship and ties with other members of the international community, starting with our historic friends and allies, the Troika countries, namely the US, UK and Norway. These countries stood with us during the real-time of need. We can forge and build strong partnerships with them in various areas such as security, economy, infrastructure, financial and banking systems, and education, especially in science and technology.

Furthermore, we need to deploy strong, patriotic and well-informed ambassadors, who can further serve the interests of our country, to the three mentioned countries.

Our foreign policy should also include Japan as a friendly, ally and strategic country for South Sudan and its people.

Other countries that we need to forge strong ties with are EU member states, Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Cuba, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, Egypt, Israel, China, Russia, India, Asian Tigers, Australia, Nigeria, Morocco, Libya, Ghana, Chad, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait.

In some cases, our relationship with any country will be determined by the way any country treats our people and country. Nevertheless, we are ready to open a new chapter with any country that is also happy to form ties with us on mutual respect.

Note: The author can be reached on the following email: akolmiyen@gmail.com


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