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South Sudan - Has independence met expectations?

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 29 June 2012

In South Sudan - one year on from the country's independence - the BBC’s former African News and Current Affairs editor Joseph Warungu chairs a debate on whether expectations have been met.

The Republic of South Sudan officially declared its independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011.

Following decades of conflict, hopes were high and the celebrations momentous.

While the south Sudanese hoped that freedom from Sudan would bring an end to the strife, neighbouring countries breathed a sigh of relief looking forward to an end to instability and refugee crises in the region.

There were high hopes too, from the rest of the world as it looked in on the world's newest nation.

It has been a difficult first year for South Sudan.

While many issues between North and South remain unresolved - threatening to develop into a new full-scale conflict - there has also been an increase in internal ethnic conflict, with thousands killed in clashes.

The new administration has been accused of tribalism - dominated as it is by the Dinka group of President Salva Kiir. Opposition is accusing the government of human-rights abuses and crackdowns on freedom of speech.

At independence, South Sudan was one of the least developed countries in Africa.

South Sudanese believed that if they had control of their own budget and resources, development might happen at last - but there's little to show for that after a year.

Corruption is so rife it's come to the attention of the president who recently accused leaders of forgetting what they had fought for and of betraying their common vision for the country to enrich themselves.

So what's the verdict of the South Sudanese after a year of self-rule and self-determination?

This debate explores if South Sudan's expectations have been met with an audience of about 100 invited guests including politicians, representing both the government and opposition; religious and community leaders; European Union representatives; Sudanese nationals in Juba; human-rights and other NGOs; economists and business people; academics; various professionals; and students.

(Image: A voter celebrates the independence referendum outside a polling station in Juba on 9 January, 2011. Credit: AFP)

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