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African Journal on Conflict Resolution

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South Sudan’s December 2013 conflict: Bolting state-building fault lines with social capital

Robert Gerenge

Abstract


The December 2013 violent conf lict in South Sudan, the world’s newest and most fragile state, has shown that a state-building trajectory that only emphasises formal institutional development is not viable. Like any state at its formative stage, formal institutions in South Sudan have demonstrated limited capacity to meet the high demands by citizens for ‘peace or postsecession’ dividends. The state’s limited capacity has further been eroded by political constructs claiming ethnic supremacy by both the Dinka and Nuer, the main parties to the December 2013 conf lict. This article argues that the entitlement tied to post-secession dividends claims by the Dinka and Nuer has (re)produced a generally volatile social space for South Sudan by defining the mode of political settlement of the state, and undermining the generation of social capital for conf lict management in the society. By constructing a nexus between state-building and social capital, this article shows that the state-building process in South Sudan requires the hybridity of formal and informal institutions. This helps in transforming the volatile social space created through the supremacy constructs of the Dinka and Nuer and high citizen demands placed on the fragile state.

Keywords: State-building, social capital, ethnic supremacy, Dinka, Nuer, South Sudan




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