Thursday, 20 June 2024


The latest country to join the ranks of ‘statehood’ is the Republic of Southern Sudan (the 193rd sovereign state). This state was not bequeathed by a colonial power or ‘liberated’ by intervention but was born out of a struggle(s) that lasted some 55 years.

Although many areas had been under the control of the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) for the greater part of this century it was only formally supported by the population in a UN supervised referendum in January of this year (over 98% voting yes to independence). It is remarkable that it could forge itself into a state given that it is landlocked (and therefore harder to smuggle in arms etc), a minor district within a much larger Sudan (39m against 9m) and the Organisation of African Unity’s opposition to a redrawing of African borders.

Sudan is a typical example of an ex-colony that had been created as a state by a Colonial power (in this case British) merging one or more quite distinct (ethnically and culturally) areas into one Administrative unit. Sadly, there are still many examples of this around the world where different peoples have been thrown together, largely against their wishes, and which usually resulted in the majority peoples lording it over the minority. Many have seen conflicts rumbling along for years with no political settlement in sight e.g. the Tamils in Sri Lanka, Kachins in Burma or West Papuans in ‘Indonesia’.

As National Liberals we recognise the importance of nationhood as one of the Pillars of a healthy and stable society (see We wish this newest nation-state the very best for the future and look forward to seeing the emergence of other new states from the ranks of ‘forgotten nations’.

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