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South Sudan’s Stability Hinges on Controlling the “Gun Class”

Majak D’Agoot calls for confronting South Sudan's dominant “gun class,” which inhibits genuine political dialogue and consensus-building.

In this interview with the Africa Center, Majak D’Agoot assesses the underlying challenges to stability in South Sudan, the world’s youngest state. Dr. D’Agoot cites the dysfunctional emergence of a dominant political class that uses its class position, violence, corruption, ethnicity to keep itself in power. The entrenchment of this political class from the outset of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 that set South Sudan on a path to independence has stunted democratic political and economic development as well as a national dialogue that could build a unifying national identity.

For South Sudan to move forward, the influence of this “gun class” will need to be brought under control and the political environment must be reshaped such that guns are not a major factor in determining political outcomes in the country. Lacking this, South Sudan will face a prolonged clash of militias acting on behalf of political actors advancing their personal interests.

To reestablish a functional political equilibrium in South Sudan will require an interim arrangement to restore the proper role of the state, including the monopoly of force. To do so a serious and sustained international engagement is needed as history shows that peace agreements rely on external guarantors until the process has been consolidated.

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