The Elgar Companion to Post-Conflict Transition
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The Elgar Companion to Post-Conflict Transition

Edited by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Roger Mac Ginty, Beatrix Austin and Christine Seifert

What are the main drivers of political transition and regime change? And to what extent do these apparently seismic political changes result in real change? These questions are the focus of this comparative study written by a mix of scholars and practitioners. This state-of-the-art volume identifies patterns in political transitions, but is largely unconvinced that these transitions bring about real change to the underlying structures of society. Patriarchy, land tenure, and economic systems often remain immune to change, despite the headlines.
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Chapter 8: South Sudan

Róisín Read


This chapter will argue that the period of conflict following the December 2013 violence in Juba, which began with a schism in the ruling Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), can only be understood when viewed in light of wider sources of conflict in Sudan. It will demonstrate that what is particularly interesting about South Sudan’s ‘post-conflict’ transition is the extent to which the regime really has not changed. Continuities with previous modes of governance and the centralisation of power within the ranks of the SPLM have meant that there is more in common with previous regimes than there has been change. The origins of this conflict can be traced to structural and institutional legacies that have persisted from colonial rule. The chapter outlines the history of conflict in Sudan, before focusing on the six-year transition period that followed the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. The issues left unresolved during the transition and the modes of governance established then tell us much about why South Sudan has returned to civil war. The chapter highlights questions of the administrative and political legacies of colonial rule; the SPLM/A’s transition from a rebel movement to a governing party; the problems of militarization, especially combined with the mobilisation of ethnicity; and the role of international actors, especially non-governmental organisations.

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