Less than a year after gaining independence, Southern Sudan is on the brink of war.
Now more than half the population in what is potentially one of Africa's richest countries is threatened by food shortages because of a deepening conflict with Sudan over oil.
Oil production has been halted by conflict along the border between the two countries, a border that was never finalised during the independence negotiations. The situation is being aggravated by the flight from conflict and forced deportation of thousands of mainly Christian Southern Sudanese from the mainly Muslim north. The imminent rains carrying waterborne disease and disrupting transport can only make things worse. After 20 years of war most on both sides long for peace and stability.
The UN and the African Union have both failed to impose a Security Council plan ordering the two sides to cease hostilities and withdraw their troops. Compromise is feasible. Juba controls most of the oil-producing regions but is reliant on pipelines running through Sudan to export it. Khartoum is demanding a ridiculously high price for this. Sudan must negotiate without preconditions and get the oil flowing again, rather than cutting off its nose to spite its face.
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