South Sudan - Africa's youngest country - is
a republic with strong presidential rule. The many war
years, ever since the 1950s, characterize today's
political situation. The former liberation movement SPLM
has been transformed into a state-carrying government
party and its armed branch SPLA into official army.
South Sudan became an independent state on July 9, 2011
and has yet to develop strong political and legal
institutions. Both democracy and the judicial system are
fragile. The country does not have a permanent
According to the transitional constitution adopted by
the Declaration of Independence, the President is Head
of State and Government as well as Commander-in-Chief.
He or she has the power to announce state of emergency,
declare war, confirm death sentences and pardon
prisoners. The president may also take initiative on
constitutional amendments and submit legislative
proposals. The term of office of the President is four
years. The constitution does not limit how many times a
president can be elected.
Total population and chart of South Sudan for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The President may be dismissed by the Supreme Court
if at least two-thirds of the members of the National
Legislative Assembly (see below) have adopted a
declaration of no confidence in the Head of State. This
may be the case if the president is guilty of treason,
gross violation of the Constitution, or grossly
neglected affairs of the nation.
The Legislative Parliament has two chambers: the
National Legislative Assembly (Lower
House) and the Land Council (Upper
House). Until the elections in 2021, the National
Legislative Assembly is made up of those who were
elected in the 2010 elections, including the South
Sudanese who were elected to the Federal Parliament in
Khartoum that year. The state council is open to those
elected to the corresponding federal chamber in Khartoum
in 2010. In addition, the president has the right to
appoint 20 members. The term of office of the Members is
four years, but in March 2015 Parliament extended its
own and the President's term of office by three years.
The same thing happened three years later. After the
2021 election, the lower house must have 170 members and
the upper house 50. In both chambers, at least a quarter
of the seats must be occupied by women.
South Sudan was initially divided into ten states,
governed by each elected governor. By a presidential
decree in December 2015, these were dissolved and 32 new
states were created instead. Each state would be led by
a governor appointed by the president. After strong
protests from the opposition, the government once again
changed its divide, giving the country once again ten
states, governed by governors to be elected by the
people. All states have their own governments and
parliaments as well as their own constitutions.
The highest court is the Supreme Court, which has
seven judges. Under it, there are three appellate courts
(for appeals), ten high courts and county and district
The South Sudanese politics is dominated completely
by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(Sudan People's Liberation Movement, SPLM),
which holds almost all the seats in Parliament. The fact
that power lies entirely with a former guerrilla is a
relationship that history has shown has not always been
the best solution when a country is to build a future in
peace. The SPLM leadership is criticized both by the
domestic opposition and by foreign appraisers for not
listening to dissenting voices and not giving dissent a
chance to influence politics.
Given that the transitional constitution provides for
the president to be re-elected an unlimited number of
times, South Sudan is considered at great risk to follow
the same path as, for example, Eritrea and develop into
an authoritarian one-party state. The term "transitional
constitution" suggests that a new, permanent
constitution must be worked out, but when that can
happen it is unclear.
Also represented in Parliament with a small mandate
are the Sudanese People's Liberation
Movement-Democratic Change (Sudan People's
Liberation Movement-Democratic Change, SPLM-DC)
and the National Congress Party (
NCP). SPLM-DC broke out of SPLM in 2009
since its founder Lam Akol accused the SPLM government
in the south of mismanagement. Akol himself was accused
of cooperating with the north side. Ahead of the
referendum on the future status of the South in early
2011, SPLM-DC was opposed to immediate independence. The
influence of the two parties on the policy is
insignificant in comparison with that of the SPLM.
The north side is accused of oil theft
The organization Global Witness claims that the authorities in the north have
sold significantly more oil from southern Sudan to China than they have
reported, thus cheating self-government in the south on oil revenues.
New battles in Jonglei
New clashes occur between the lou nuer and murle peoples in the southern
state of Jonglei. The UN estimates that more than 2,000 people have been killed
in the ethnic conflict so far in 2009.
Oil field in Abyei falls to the north
The Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague determines how the border around
Abyei should be drawn. The decision means that the large oil field Heglig falls
to the north side. Both parties agree to accept the court's ruling.
Outbreak from SPLM
Former Foreign Minister Lam Akol, the SPLM government, accuses the ruling
party of misconduct, while at the same time being accused of cooperating with
the north side. Akol breaks out of SPLM and forms the new party SPLM-DC
(DC = Democratic Change).
Ethnic struggles in Jonglei
Around 1,000 people are killed in fighting between the lou nuer and murle
groups in the southern state of Jonglei. The South Sudanese government and the
SPLM government accuse local warlords of trying to sabotage the general
elections scheduled for 2010 by undermining confidence in the southern