The battle between South Sudanese insiders and outsiders over the question of who fought the war? A novel challenge in South Sudan’s social, political and economic stability

By: John Bith Aliap, Adelaide, South Australia

January 18, 2012 (SSNA) — As Islamic chauvinism, humiliation, gross human rights abuse, racism, in-equitability of national resources and a reputed contest of national identity became so profound philosophically in the pre – united Sudan, the people of the Republic of South Sudan took up arms and fought for so many years to achieve freedom, justice and finally, meaningful recognition of their factual identity as people of African – ancestry.

The civil war between north-South Sudans raged for decades, and this protracted war caused massive displacements, deaths and untold human catastrophe that have ever been recorded in the world’s history. In 2005, the international community, specifically the United States and other peace-loving nations thought to bring the ultimate solution to Sudan’s fundamental problems as famously referred to by the late Dr. John Garang, the leader of SPLM/A movement, through the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the north and south Sudans. This agreement has beyond doubt resulted to the birth of the new nation the ‘Republic of South Sudan’.   

After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), many South Sudanese who fleet the country during the war had instantly began to return to the country they believe is their own. Given the high hopes and expectations of South-Sudanese in all walks of life, after the independence, the accommodation and reconciliation between war participants and those who fleet the country and acquired a good education continues to be a source of division and generally, a source of all forms of disadvantage in the peripheries of South-Sudanese who have been outside the country during the war. This matter if not addressed at once, will gradually present many tribulations to South Sudan’s development in different domains.

Based on the views of local, regional and international blocs, the independence of South Sudan was technically seen as the end of social, political and economic instability, but that is not the case at the movement in South Sudan. As the question of who fought the war of liberation continues to dominate social, political and economic debates in South Sudan, there seems to be an undergroundbattle between skilled – South Sudanese and those who regard themselves to have fought the war of liberation. Sensibly, such tension can potentially present a novel challenge in South Sudan’s social, political and economic development in different ways.

It is very important in this respect to show these controversial arguments and South Sudanese will on their own right, make their respective judgments depending on their view points on which group is really telling the truth. As the question of which group actually fought the war of liberation continues to dominate most of social gatherings in South Sudan, the group of those who perceived themselves to have fought the war argued that their ruling in the government of South Sudan is legitimate, because of their inalienable participation during the decades of civil war between north and the south. The participation during the war according to this group has however deprived them of educational and economic opportunities, and now should be the time to replace what has been lost during the war.

On the other hand, the skilled South Sudanese principally from the Diaspora also argued that the war of development needs different skills, and arguably has to be fought by different soldiers. They also added that although the current military generals who are serving in the government had unswervingly fought the previous war that earned South Sudanese an independence country, the current environment can not accommodate these generals who do not have other skills, accept that of combat. Further, the Diaspora group can additionally maintained that they have good educational skills which if utilized, can triumph the war of development, especially service delivery, as these are the top priority of the government in its quest of building a new nation.  

These arguments are so influential and they can potentially bring divisions amongst the people of South Sudan who are at this stage should be united in order to overcome the challenges that are presently facing the newly-founded country. The people of South Sudan should not accept themselves to be divided along the lines of academic credentials and contribution in the movement. The solution to this problem should be to create a better working relationship between those who participated directly in the movement and the skilled-South Sudanese who have indirectly played a significant part in the movement.

To provide an insight into how the previous war was fought, I would in this instance be akin to present diverse groups of South Sudanese that I believe have indisputably contributed to the revolution that brought the independence of the Republic of South Sudan. These groups per my experience as a child born and grow up in the war period include; informational group-those who remained in the north to act as movement’s intelligence source, Diaspora group, who served in the movement politically and economically abroad and oversees, women group who served in the movement as source of social support and direct food supply chain, farmers and cattle keepers’ group, automobile group who used to help the soldiers to carry ammunitions  as the movement had no enough transport facilities during that time and finally, the group who directly served in the actual combat in the front lines. If South Sudanese are to check themselves to determine which group they belong, one would not miss to fall into one of these categories. As a matter of fact, different groups of South Sudanese who have been inside or outside the country during the war might be aware of each other’s contributions during those dark days of South Sudanese’s liberation movement.  

It can be a fatal mistake for any particular group of South Sudanese to voluntarily assume undeserving ownership of South-Sudan’s independence, which in reality has been a collective contribution of all South Sudanese. It has to be acknowledged that all the people of South Sudan whether educated, uneducated, rich and poor etc have something to offer in the existing war of development.

It is essentially a matter of recognizing each other’s contribution.  The group who fleet the country during the war for instance, should recognize efforts of those who directly risked their lives during the war. This group who risked their lives during the war should contrary acknowledge and value the educational achievements of South Sudanese in the Diaspora, and therefore regard it as something that can be used to achieve social, economic and political development in the new country, rather than a something that is seen to be waging the war with government and the people of South Sudan who are residing in the country.

In conclusion, I sincerely need to reinstate that the current state of affairs between insiders and outsiders South Sudanese needs an urgent attention from the government of South Sudan, and generally from the people of South Sudan who are now residing in the country. If the government of South Sudan and its people fall short to address this divisive issue, it may serve as an ingredient to the already – existing divisions that are created by self- appointed politicians with the aim to achieving their political and material interests. Finally, as the war of development requires educational skills, the exclusion of skilled South Sudanese primarily coming from abroad and oversees would be a grave mistake that carries countless consequences in the fields of social, political and economic development in the new Republic of South Sudan.

The author of this work is a concerned South Sudanese citizen and can be corresponded at [email protected]

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