These rebellions are generally initiated by urban elites who are dissatisfied with the way the government had treated them and their region or ethnic group. They mobilise a section of their regional or ethnic supporters, acquire arms clandestinely and often supported by a neighbouring country and sometimes by an outside power as well.
Initial grievances of the leadership of such a rebel group would vary from being blocked from achieving political power, under representation of their region/ethnic group in the government and administration, their region
Deliberately neglected from access to development funds, to blockage of their ethnic groups from the private sector, and allocation of their land to other ethnic groups (of the ruling ethnic group), etc.
These grievances may be shared by other ethnic groups, in which case the rebel group forms alliances with others and the rebellion becomes more widespread. The sustenance of such rebel movements is only possible if it is supported by a neighbouring country from where it can have bases and arms supplies.
Hence, the youth become an important and accessible pool for recruitment at a very low cost to rebel movements. More importantly, the easy availability of small arms has enabled such rebel movements to turn into powerful and destructive forces capable of causing serious harm and destruction in rural areas.
Since small arms do not need much training while their possession gives considerable power to those who posses them, rebel movements thus become very attractive to the youth, including those in their early teen.
Conflicts between state and rebellions trying to overthrow them vary in intensity, scale, and duration depending on many factors. These factors also vary depending on the depth of the grievances, the political indoctrination of the supporters, the quality of the leadership, the strength and weakness of the state, the seriousness of support from neighbouring states and the outside powers.
In Angola, the control of the diamond mines is very important for the sustenance of UNITA and support from other African countries to break the arms embargo has been and is also crucial, as revealed recently by a UN Report
While the rebellions which want to overthrow the government are driven by the possibility of gaining political power and the prospect of economic gains, the rebellions seeking secession are often driven by their perceived political, economic and cultural oppression.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the vicious competition between the super- powers in Africa was an important factor, if not in starting conflicts, certainly in sustaining them. The Americans and the Russians in particular, and less so openly the British and the French, competed for (a) “the hearts and minds” of the African elites and their followers; (b) political and diplomatic allies; (c) strategic allies; and (d) mineral resources.
The rivalry and competition took various forms: supporting governments, overthrowing governments, supporting/opposing political parties, covert activities in support of or in opposition to governments, and supporting, if not initiating rebel movements.
What needs to be emphasised here is that, at the time, the support or opposition of one super-power or another was a very powerful force in the political survival or demise of an African government. So powerful were these cold war interventions that they set in motion socio- political forces in some of the strategic countries, processes that led to serious internal conflicts which have outlasted the Cold War itself and continued until today.
In the Congo of 1964, the Americans intervened to remove Lumumba and install Mobutu, an intervention which has set in motion serious and unforeseen consequences which are unfolding to this day.
In Somalia, it led to the collapse of the state. In Angola, it has led to the long and tragic civil war. Similarly in Mozambique (through the proxy of apartheid South Africa), it has led to another vicious civil war which has fortunately been temporarily resolved.
Internal divisions, colonial legacy, history of cultural oppression, intense rivalry and competition for political power, etc., a combination of these factors constitute the root cause of these major conflicts.
The forces which fought in the civil war can easily be mobilised to “go back to the bush”. How long the peace lasts will depend on: (i) how militarily strong the new ruling group/s are and how weak the opposition groups are, (ii) how acceptable the post-conflict arrangements are to the groups which have accepted to give up fighting and join the “power-sharing” arrangements.
Since 2005, the government of Southern Sudan by then embarked on absorbing all the militia groups and political oppositions in search of national unity of purpose among South Sudanese. Till 2011, when we obtained our independent the leadership establish an open government system whereby all the unreasonable discontented elements were given chance to rule and lead.
Some took this style of leadership for granted and used their positions to betray the whole country to the world accusing the government and labelling South Sudan as a failed country. Many were either caught red handed in corruption or accused and yet believe themselves to be innocent of public looting.
False illusions and illiterate prophecy believed by the intellectuals to imposed themselves in a leading position are well realized by conflict perpetrators and built on, hence pushing our country into merciless loggerhead.
In the recent failed coup attempt, many foreign hands are either directly or indirectly involved in fuelling the situation to its current level. The UN statements within the country and chaotic suggestion of Ambassador Cohen to place our country under UN trusteeship are clear evidences of ill intentions within the international community.
Giving the above factors causing coups in Africa, Riek Machar and his loyalist failed to come out with a clear socio-political agenda to enable them negotiate the government and build a political stance.
Moreover, the tribal militarization from the rebel side and recruitment of underage to engage in power struggle against the legitimate government proved beyond doubt that the rebel groups lost the political direction.
Conflict resilience and strengthening of social fabrics which are almost eroded in the current conflict remains the main pillars in restoring hope and confidence among the citizen of South Sudan and to easily defeat the SELF DRIVE REBELLION in our country.
Oh God bless South Sudan.
The author is an engineering student and he is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org