South Sudan: Donor-Driven Technical Fixes Failed South Sudan - It's Time to Get Political

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opinion

This finding was controversial as it challenged the premise, upon which a great deal of assistance to southern Sudan has been based, "that the provision of socioeconomic services addresses needs, leading ultimately to the enhancement of state legitimacy and stabilisation."

Ignoring complexity and negativity

As stressed already in 2009, transitioning from war to peace is not a technical exercise but a highly political process. South Sudan was born amidst ongoing political power plays, deep divisions and conflict at many levels - issues that remain unresolved.

The international community - and particularly donor governments - had high expectations for peace in South Sudan after the signing of the CPA.

Seeing the conflict between the North and South as the main threat to peace, many overlooked the deeply entrenched divisions within the South that would continue to shape relationships and the political leadership after independence in 2011.

Concerns and warnings about the role that patronage and ethnicity play in South Sudan's politics, as well as calls to better understand the causes of vulnerability, power relations, and drivers of instability, were largely ignored as the international community focused on less complex and more positive technical 'fixes'. As argued in Aiding the Peace:

"The problem lies in the conceptual vacuum around 'statehood', as well as unclear identification of critical conditions that lead to peace, or to conflict, or the lack of sustained attention to them.

Neither the [Government of South Sudan] nor donors produced a convincing and consensual model of what Southern Sudan as a 'state' would look like in say, ten years. From the donors, the reticence ... reflected the tendency to approach the challenge purely as a technical exercise in capacity building and service delivery."

Longstanding and unaddressed grievances deeply rooted in South Sudan's turbulent history were left unhealed and have now come to the surface again. The inherently political battle for power and control of the ruling party has increasingly taken on strong ethnic connotations.

In South Sudan, ethnicity is often manipulated to create enmity between groups (tribes, clans or sub-clans) for political or military advantage.

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