African Journal on Conflict Resolution

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Power-sharing consociationalism in resolving South Sudan’s ethnopolitical conflict in the post- Comprehensive Peace Agreement era

Francis Onditi, Kizito Sabala, Samson Wassara


This article uses Arend Lijphart’s notion of ‘power-sharing consociationalism’ to understand the mutually reinforcing conflict system and the barriers to resolving such conflicts in South Sudan. ‘Consociationalism’ has been affirmed as an ideal approach for resolving conflicts in ethnically divided societies, but in South Sudan, the formal institutions of power sharing have not delivered sustainable peace. Analysis in this article reveals that the implementation of the various ‘peace agreements’ and ‘deals’ deviated from classical ‘consociationalism’. Consequently limited attention  was paid to inter-ethnic tensions and too much emphasis was placed on the mechanics of power sharing among the executive and military institutions, leading to the proliferation of ‘organised political movements’. Rather than focusing on the mechanics of power sharing, a viable consociational model for South Sudan should concentrate on how such multifaceted layers of issues can be accommodated within a single settlement. Therefore, the South Sudan conflict system requires a stronger reconceptualisation of issues. Hence we have coined the term ‘tragedy of ethnic diversity’, not as a replacement of the well-known concept of ‘resource curse’, but as new thinking that might shape future research and scholarship in the increasingly complex South Sudan conflict system.

Keywords: Consociationalism, power sharing, conflict resolution, ethnicity, tragedy of ethnic diversity, South Sudan

AJOL African Journals Online