The University of Iowa

Sudanese UI students welcome country’s secession

July 15th, 2011

By Chastity Dillard, The Daily Iowan

Following a shaky six-year peace agreement, the birth of the Republic of South Sudan is the final stage in the hopes of ending decades of war.

And for University of Iowa student Grace Nyoma, the separation is a welcome change.

“This is the best thing that could of happened for Sudan,” she said.

A native of Juba, the capital of the newly formed nation, Nyoma said she had family in the country and that they also were happy with the secession of the south.

“In a short period of time the world will see how the decision to split the two countries was a smart one and that Southern Sudan will play a large part in world affairs,” Nyoma said.

The new country of 8 million people was admitted as the 193rd member of the United Nations, the Associated Press has reported. Yet disputes still fly over the control of border towns.

Brian Lai, a UI political-science associate professor, said there is still opposition to the southern secession.

“The relationship is going to be tense,” Lai said. “Areas along the border still experience conflict between the Sudanese government and anti-government groups.”

In addition, South Sudan controls most of the country’s oil. But it has no means of shipping it other than through Northern Sudan, Lai said.

Yet, Nyoma said, it is impossible for the two countries to be united because of the large tribal diversity in the south and the government in the north being mostly Islamic.

Lai said it will likely take time for Sudan to become a stabilized country because it is currently very poor, does not have much infrastructure, and has experienced an extended period of conflict.

Yet these small conflicts are minuscule when compared with the 22-year civil war that left 2 million people dead and millions more displaced, some said. The Darfur conflict, pitting southern separatists against the Sudanese government, led to what the U.S. declared as a genocide of millions.

And the change is not likely to alter relations with the U.S., Lai said.

“The U.S. has supported Southern Sudan for years, stretching from aid during the Clinton years to Bush designating a special envoy to the peace negotiations,” Lai said. “The U.S. will likely provide humanitarian and development aid to the new state.”

Lyombe Eko, a UI journalism associate professor, previously told The Daily Iowan that the peace will depend on the actions of the Sudanese government.

“If the government does not respect the referendum, then war will start again,” he said.