"Sudan has been an experiment that resonated across Africa: if we, the largest country on the continent, reaching from the Sahara to the Congo, bridging religions, cultures and a multitude of ethnicities, were able to construct a prosperous and peaceful state from our diverse citizenry, so too could the rest of Africa."
- Mo Ibrahim
In over three decades, this is the first time Sudan will experience someone different at its helm of affairs. This means that a full-grown Sudanese of thirty years old had known no other ruler but the ousted president, Omar al-Bashir. This does not tell well for the country as regards development and progress.
Since al-Bashir was forced out of office after a military takeover earlier this month, one aspect of the country that many observers have focused on is the Sudan-South Sudan border crisis. It is easy to say that while in power, al-Bashir and his counterpart from South Sudan, President Salva Kiir played politics with the lives of their citizens over a needless border struggle.
Before the split between Sudan and South Sudan, the loyalists and separatists forces of South Sudan waged a 22-year war with Sudan. The Sudan president ordered the borders with South Sudan to be reopened for the first time in 2016 after it was shut in 2011.
Despite the independence of South Sudan after the 22 years of fighting between rebels and the government of Khartoum, relations between Khartoum and the new leadership in Juba remained tense and many areas along the border remain in dispute and heavy conflict till date.
Many critics accuse Omar al-Bashir of instigating the conflict after his involvement in the 2012 clash with South Sudan over the Heglig oil field. Sudan, however, managed to claim the contested border region after lots of lives and properties worth millions belonging to citizens were lost.
The critics claimed that Omar al-Bashir would not have ordered the war since at the declaration of independence in 2011, the separatist government agreed to pay transit fees to Sudan for sending oil through Sudanese pipelines and facilities.
Basher had agreed to review the fees after Juba asserted the transit costs were too high. Both countries currently face armed rebellion within their borders.
President Salva Kiir has a huge share of the blame though because his greed also contributes to the crisis. A UN panel of experts recommended sanctions on both leaders for a series of serious rights abuse, according to a report by AFP.
You will recall that South Sudan experienced a bloody civil war in 2013, with the country splitting along ethnic lines between President Salva Kiir and his onetime deputy, Riek Machar.
Khartoum has also provoked international criticism over the actions of its troops in the Sudanese region of Darfur. The Sudanese government accuses Juba of backing the Darfur rebellion, which Juba denies.
With Omar al-Bashir gone, will peace return to Darfur and the Sudan-South Sudan border? Only time will tell.
Header Image Credit: Reuters