The dust has finally settled, well, somehow. Winners, whether fairly or unfairly, are now getting ready to take on the arduous task of preparing the South for a not-so-clean divorce from the North.

There have been a few upsets like the ousting of Justice Minister Michael Makuei Lueth by an independent in Makuach, Jonglei state. Central Equitoria’s Gen Kogga really struggled against his independent challengers. Actually, the independents did remarkably well and this should send a message to SPLM big wigs that if they do not carry out a radical internal surgery, this political hemorrhage will slowly kill SPLM and give birth to a formidable opposition in the South. Of course in itself this isn’t bad for democracy, but we are talking about a very fragile post-conflict state grappling with insecurity, nation- and state-building with a constant fear of the Khartoum-based regime, not to mention a complex history of inter-ethnic clashes.

I hold the view that unchecked political competition at this early stage of reconstruction and fragility is a recipe for cycles of ethno-political clashes. It is dangerous because Southern Sudanese are currently held together by only two things: the idea of a common enemy in the North and the common desire to separate from the latter. Remove these two and South Sudan would implode. The GOSS administration is replete with former generals, some of them are even allowed to maintain private armies. Think of Gen George Athor, Luk Jok, Paulino Matip and other former (sic) members of the SSDF. Compounding this further is the fact that the SPLA is not known to act as one unitary force.

But this election does provide a good opportunity to create a polity that has some kind of legitimacy in the eyes of the Southerners. This is particularly important in leading a post-secession South Sudan.

Finally, the international community MUST not be too enthusiastic to speed up the democratization process. Instead, their intervention should only be to supplement local efforts. We saw a good number of local civil society groups during the electioneering period. It is these that the international community, especially the INGOs should target for capacity building.

Because Southern Sudanese will drive change in South Sudan!