South Sudan Statehood: July 9 Sees Africa's 54th Nation
Republic of South Sudan Becomes a Nation on July 9: What Now?
Southern Sudan, having voted to secede from Sudan, becomes the Republic of South Sudan,an independent nation, on July 9. South Sudan's people now have hope, but also face a mind-boggling litany of obstacles, such as tension with Sudan, a lack of infrastructure, little education, widespread health problems, and a high infant mortality rate.
What now, though? South Sudan has several strikes against it. To begin with, the new nation's infant mortality rate (150 per thousand) is the worst in the world. While Sudan has been courted by the US, the southern portion has been literally abandoned by Khartoum: there are no proper roads into South Sudan, either from Sudan itself or its neighbors. There are only 350km (219 miles) of paved road in South Sudan.
Juba, the new capital, is already attracting private investment from other parts of Africa, it is pretty much a blank slate. You cannot use a credit card anywhere in Juba.
The UN is deploying 7,000 peacekeepers to the new nation, just to be on the safe side. After all, Sudan has become synonymous with genocide, and the border region of Abyei is rich with oil: what if Khartoum begrudges South Sudan its piece of the pie? The 2005 agreement that ended Sudan's civil war is tenuous at best, and has relied on a UN peacekeeping presence: one that expires tomorrow.
As for foreign aid, see above: western nations would be far more willing to help the Republic of South Sudan if it had definitive control of at least some of Abyei's oil.
South Sudan is born into a humanitarian nightmare. Health care is provided by the UN and various NGOs such as Doctors without Borders, but only around 30% of the population has been reached.
The north has assets desirable to the West (oil and an Islamic regime to befriend), while the south has almost nothing. South Sudan's only natural asset is Abyei, which could spark a war with Sudan at pretty much any time. Note that South Sudan's population is mostly comprised of rebels from the north, and its military sucks up more than half of its overall budget.
The South Sudanese government's first task: managing the expectations of a hopeful and jubilant population. While self-determination is a boon to Southern Sudan, to say that the brand-new nation of South Sudan faces challenges right out of the gate would be a major understatement.