Following South Sudan: Background and Updates

President Salva Kiir (right) and opposition leader Riek Machar (left) shake hands while Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni looks on.

President Salva Kiir (right) and opposition leader Riek Machar (left) shake hands while Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni looks on.

Following South Sudan’s independence, gained in 2011, the world’s newest country scheduled its first elections to take place in 2015.

Mid 2013, however, then President Salva Kiir dismissed his own vice president, Riek Machar, and the entire cabinet, for the purpose of decreasing the size of government. Machar said this was a step towards dictatorship for Kiir, and vowed to challenge Machar for the Presidency in the 2015 elections.

Following the dismissal of Machar, an associated coup d’état was shut down. A coup d’état, or the overthrow of an existing government, usually an unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator or political group, brought further instability to the region.

Fast forward to 2015, when elections were presumed to happen. In April of that year, the South Sudan parliament voted to amend the transitional constitution. This resulted in an extension of the Presidents and legislatures terms for two more years, meaning the same people were to say in power until 2018.

Additionally, a new vote in 2018 further pushed back South Sudan’s first elections until 2021.

So how does this keep happening?

When the country was formed in 2011, the South Sudanese government adopted the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, as a temporary placeholder for a permanent constitution. It allowed for the centralization of the government, meaning power was to be dispersed among the political system, in this case between the legislative and executive branches.

Because this is considered an interim constitution, the process for amending it is not a difficult process as compared to other constitutionalized countries. This allowed for parliament to extend Kiir’s term past the usual 5-year term, and in turn postpone elections.

On top of that, President Kiir says the decision to push back elections is to allow time for national reconciliation and peace. This process will take years and should not be rushed, according to Kiir. By pushing off elections, there would be time for peace to take shape in South Sudan.

Many people see this as a power grab from President Kiir. With his now extended term, there is question as to if this is truly the end of President Kiir’s position, or if he will only ask for an extension.

With the 2021 elections are on the horizon, there is also a need to replace the Transitional Constitution in order to make South Sudan a more stable state. With new members of government, the stall in progress previously will hopefully come to an end, in order for South Sudan to evolve.

Looking forward, it is necessary for South Sudan to keep working toward peace. The newly signed peace agreements will hopefully encourage amnesty within the country, and will be honored by its leaders. There is hope that this will encourage reconciliation and reprieve in South Sudan.


South Sudan president delays 2015 general elections

South Sudan cabinet calls off June election

South Sudan Peace Deal Brings New Hope

New peace deal in South Sudan greeted with optimism

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.  Source

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. Source

Current South Sudan President Salva Kiir met with former rebel leader and Vice President Riek Machar to sign a peace agreement late last year. The rivalry between the two had previously fueled the civil war in South Sudan, making it surprising to see the two smiling and shaking hands in the capital city of Juba.

The new agreement, named the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, follows years of multiple peace agreements that have ultimately failed. The agreement is met with both skepticism and hopefulness. Alongside Kiir and Machar, former detainees and other political party leaders have agreed to sign the document. Together with lasting peace, the agreement aims to implement free and fair elections that are open to all parties, and pave the way for economic integration between the North and South parts of former Sudan.

This comprehensive peace agreement focuses on five areas that will hopefully form a lasting peace agreement. These include a permanent ceasefire, rehabilitation to the oil industry and oil wells, security reform, improvement of infrastructure and the livelihood of citizens, and implementation of outside forces to oversee the ceasefire. Both major political leaders claim to be committed to the cause and respect the documents and what follows.

The first expected hurdle will be the permanent ceasefire. The previous treaty, the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, was violated by both sides within 24 hours. In response, the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement hopes to forge one national army under one national representation. Previously, there had been two armies, making them more likely to clash. In order to have a successful ceasefire, both African Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states are asked to deploy the necessary forces to make sure this ceasefire is everlasting.


Following almost five years of war that displaced nearly a quarter million citizens and killed thousands, there is also hope that this deal will be the lasting peace South Sudan has been looking for. Machar said the agreement will end the suffering all too common in South Sudan, adding that “they will be happy soon.”

With the optimism that this agreement will bring the peace that South Sudan needs, Water for South Sudan will be able to reach out to previously unsafe communities. Furthermore, this pact aims at opening up the doors of Sudan to humanitarian aid in order to improve the lives of its citizens. Water for South Sudan will be able to get supplies needed and personnel to South Sudan in a more efficient manner, and ultimately reach out to more populations that need access to clean, safe water and hygiene education.

WFSS Celebrates World Humanitarian Day and World Photo Day

"World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk."
— UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

WFSS joins the global community in marking World Humanitarian Day. We honor all those who work to aid the suffering in our world. We especially honor our team in South Sudan, who work tirelessly to improve processes and impact as we work to bring access to clean water and hygiene education in the world's newest country.


As we also mark World Photo Day, here are some photos of our team members in South Sudan. Today, and ever day, we salute you!

Views on the Peace Process and South Sudan's Way Forward

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) and South Sudan's rebel commander Riek Machar exchange documents after signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa,. REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) and South Sudan's rebel commander Riek Machar exchange documents after signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa,. REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI

WFSS joined the world in celebrating the independence of South Sudan on July 11, 2011, and also watched in dismay as conflict erupted in December of 2013. Since then the peace process has been a series of deals, cease-fires and broken agreements.

A recent editorial in the New York Times stresses that the only way for peace to last is for the US and United Nations to apply continued pressure on the South Sudanese. During President Obama's recent trip to East Africa he stressed the importance of holding South Sudan, and its neighbors, accountable in maintaining peace in South Sudan. Read the full editorial, A Peace Plea for South Sudan for more.

In another op-ed, appearing in The Daily Beast, Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast writes that the biggest obstacle to peace in South Sudan is the nature of the state itself. Prendergast notes that the only way that lasting peace will hold is to dismantle the violent kleptocracy that has become the norm. In its short life as a nation, governing institutions have been hijacked for personal enrichment and advancement by rival factions of military and civilian officials. Prendergast also notes the need for continued pressure from the US to root out corruption. He also urges a search for the assets that have been stolen so that they may be returned to the South Sudanese people. Read the full essay, Saving South Sudan from Kleptocracy.

Finally, James Copnall, a South Sudan analyst, talks about the obstacles facing the South Sudan peace process in South Sudan: Obstacles to a lasting peace. He notes five obstacles, including the leaders, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the terms of the deal, the involvement of South Sudan's regional neighbors, possible lack of unity on both sides of the conflict, and, deepening ethnic animosity among a people who have hardly known anything but war.

Continued pressure and attention from regional neighbors, and the world community are clearly needed to move the peace process along. The world's newest nation is still learning how to walk, and requires the aid and assistance of those who helped bring it to birth, to help it grow into a sustainable country, able to support itself.  

Here at Water for South Sudan, we continue to monitor what's happening in South Sudan and share perspectives from a variety of sources both in that country and elsewhere. Our South Sudan team also helps to keep us informed. To date, the unrest in the country has not affected their ability to carry out operations.




Amid Conflict, Uniting for Peace through Development

As the world marks the one-year anniversary of conflict in South Sudan, Water for South Sudan, Inc. and Aqua-Africa, two US-based nonprofits, are working together to bring clean water to remote villages in South Sudan. The organizations are each led by dual US-South Sudanese citizens of different tribal heritages. They are working together not as tribal members, but as South Sudanese, united to transform the lives of their fellow citizens, and to bring peace to this young nation through development.

First well of the WFSS 2014-15 drilling season, drilled for updp. two more wells are planned in december,, and at least three more in 2015.

First well of the WFSS 2014-15 drilling season, drilled for updp. two more wells are planned in december,, and at least three more in 2015.

Salva Dut, a former “Lost Boy” of Sudan and founder of Water for South Sudan (WFSS) and Buey Ray Tut, born in what was then Southern Sudan and founder of Aqua-Africa (A-A), both became US citizens and founders of US nonprofits working in South Sudan.  They are also from different tribes, which have a history of conflict.

Salva and Buey, and their organizations, have come together to drill water wells in South Sudan, and show, by their partnership, how to work together to make a difference and build a nationThe joint project is called The United Peace and Development Project (UPDP).  The first four wells were drilled in February and March of this year.  Three more wells will be drilled this month, and an additional three will be drilled in March of 2015. Wells are being installed in both Dinka and Nuer territory.

“We are dedicated to our nation,” says Buey, who is from the Nuer tribe. “We are trying to make our country a better place.”    Salva, from the Dinka tribe, agrees. “We need peace in our country,” says Salva.  “We want to show people how we can all work together.”

Both nonprofits work to bring clean water to people who often walk miles each day to gather water that is often dirty and diseased.  Water for South Sudan has drilled 218 wells since 2005, serving over 500,000 people. WFSS works with local villages to determine need and placement of wells, and trains villagers to use and maintain the well that becomes the property of the village.  WFSS is supported by donors in all 50 US States and 18 foreign countries.

Aqua-Africa, established in 2008, partners with local drilling contractors to drill water wells, and also conducts workshops in resource management to help local villages manage their water supply.  Aqua-Africa has drilled 10 wells to date, serving 8,000 people.

South Sudan, which became independent from the Republic of Sudan in July, 2011 is the world’s newest nation.  It has seen renewed violence since December, 2013, with unrest that has stirred up old rivalries between different tribes.  Peace talks in South Sudan are ongoing, supported by the UN and neighboring nations.