By Magok Alier Akuot
Dear Mr. President,
May 3, 2012 (SSNA) — Allow me to write in response to the on-going political as well as military surge between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. Much has been written and said about this which is why I shall not assume the possibility of drawing your attention in respect to what I am about to say in my writing. As a citizen of this nation, my responsibility under the constitution is simply to express an opinion which per se may not influence your Excellency to duly rely on especially when it comes to taking tough military decisions. But it is my justified view that our nation needs collective responsibility in safeguarding and protecting its sovereignty by all means including and not limited to advising your Excellency as a citizen filled with sense of patriotism!
A lot has happened since the capture of Panthou and I shall not dwell much on what we have handled with sensibility. Let me applaud your wise leadership for setting standards which the regimes in Khartoum have, over the decades, failed to set. Respecting international norms and customs with respect to humanitarian law is such a good thing that we shall always be proud of and manifests itself in the way we have so far handled the boiling military build-up of the ruling authoritarian regime in Khartoum. As I shall precisely point out, the world has moved away from the era of war which Sudan, and especially the National Congress Party (NCP), is so much interested in. During moments such as this, we cannot ignore the benefits of differing views on the way forward, and I believe your Excellency must have been confronted with much more than I should say; yet there is always an end to difficulty. It is true that many citizens are unhappy with your decision of withdrawing SPLA troops from Panthou. This must have been a painful decision to take but I am not unaware of the motivating circumstances leading to the taking of the said decision. On one hand, we have an obligation to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security under Chapter VII of the UN Charter ; and on the other hand we have a responsibility to protect or defend not only the citizens but also the sovereignty of our state in accordance with the provision of Article 2 read together with article 53 clauses 1 and 2 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 . Choosing between these two important alternatives must have been too painful but your Excellency acted in a truly justiciable manner. As a matter of sincerity, I was taken aback and disappointed with your Excellency’s position when I first heard and read the council of Ministers’ resolution ordering the withdrawal of our troops from Panthou. However, my disappointment dissipated with reading and understanding our obligation under international law plus the manner in which we took Panthou from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Although I was not supportive of your Excellency’s position along with the Council of Ministers’, I regretted my thoughts and so I understood your Excellency acted in a reasonable manner considering our pledge to respect and abide by human rights principles and the principles of international law as contained in the UN covenants. My regret is not in vain because it has been said, which I believe is true, that our gallant SPLA forces took Panthou as a result of recurrent attacks from SAF. Our taking it from them was not bad though, but taking it on the basis that it is part of South Sudan would:
1. Call into question our pledge to respect international norms and customs which bind nations together.
2. Have been a dangerous decision in terms of Khartoum reacting with swift force of a full scale war which, I think, we were not fully prepared to contain as a nation.
3. Make us loose our friends and, in my opinion, there would be possibility of sanctions being imposed on our state which, I think, we cannot withstand given our shaky economy because of oil shutdown!
As it is commonly known that Panthou is ours by history, there is no fear it will never be should we claim it before international tribunals such as the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague. I must say Moburuk Wa Moburukat Mr. President for the wise decision so taken!
Whereas it is my desire not to pin your Excellency down reading this lengthy letter, it is also crucial to understand the position of a concerned patriot who has sacrificed his valuable time writing to seek understanding from your Excellency. Mr. President, I shall implore you to take me as a patriot desiring to put an end to the war-mongering propaganda of Sudan and although my writing is not a binding thesis, since our learned patriots, having the foresight into world politics, have the constitutional mandate to advise your Excellency, I will add a non-binding piece of my mind.
In any given circumstances, the political idiocy of Khartoum cannot per se be taken for granted. Already Khartoum has declared war on our nation and to act in ignorance will be too dangerous especially to the legitimacy of your wise leadership. In moments like this all we need are allies having the goodwill and political interest in our affairs. I am not saying this as an answer to Khartoum military tone but I am saying it on the basis of defense with restrain should SAF step into our territory. Before I sat down to write this letter, I had discussed a brief question with my learned colleague students who have the goodwill for this nation, and so I may be writing reflecting their shared views. The question I had asked them is: “which nation is most likely willing to help us with military aid during moments such as this?” Although there were no conclusive answers for this question, I gained courage and motivation to write this letter which I believe your Excellency will find relevant to read since it is from an ordinary citizen seeking the common good of our state.
Up to this moment of my letter Mr. President, I implore your patience to stay with me even though I seem not to point out what my letter intends to address. The point is we have a number of friendly states to look up to in terms of soliciting military aid especially when it comes to defense of our sovereignty from Khartoum’s aggression. I am obliged to think that your Excellency knows that most superpowers won’t be of help at this crucial moment when we need their help in terms of military aids as well as finances. This is based on political justifications which this letter cannot dwell on.
As far as the current political situation is concerned, Mr. President, I do not wish to puzzle your good office with, perhaps, insufficient political thoughts since I am not a politician. I have an idea which came out of a brainstorming discussion I had with my learned colleague students. My observation is based on the need to seek MILITARY AID FROM ISRAEL which I believe will be far more ready to LISTEN AND HELP US. The meeting point between our State [South Sudan] and Israel is: Israel is an enemy state number two (2) of the Republic of Sudan. Your Excellency knows that we are enemy state number (1) of the said Republic as passed by their national legislature following our occupation of Panthou.
Mr. President, we all need to recollect our memories regarding our friends that have been with us since the bush era and going through the list, I find it necessary-in my opinion, that we cannot afford to ignore mentioning the support Israel extended to us. All we need is to appreciate their support and ask for more especially in moments such as this. As a general rule, we turn to our friends in moments of need and of excess just like a Christian does to God. This is no time to panic but it is time to think of what is best for this nation. I am undoubtful that our efforts will be in vain should we seek military aid from ISRAEL. ISRAEL has been our great friend and will continue to be! So why not exploit this opportunity while they may be willing to help us? Yes, WE can Mr. President because this is a better thing to do as we await the outcome and implementation of UN Security Council (UNSC) deliberation on adopting the African Union (AU) roadmap adopted [this week] by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) aimed at resolving disputes between our Republic [South Sudan] and the Republic of Sudan.
May I remind your Excellency that, in a closed door meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we need to apologise in respect to the statement your Excellency made during UN General Assembly meeting commending the giving of Palestinians their statehood. Mr. President, we all know that Israel does not and will never acknowledge or approve the statehood of Palestine because of their political as well as religious differences for decades. Approving that it is necessary to give Palestinians their state must have been a great disappointment to Israel and US alike. In this sense, our Apology will be a good move to further cement our relations and intended to solicit military aid in good faith.
Mr. President, I wish not to remind you that the superpowers are hiding their faces and expect us to seek military aid from a nation having goodwill and interest in our state of affairs. On the contrary, I have observed beyond doubt that there is something lacking within our armed forces which we cannot ask from anywhere but from ourselves. In my opinion, it is the moral our gallant armed forces had during the liberation struggle. The question is where is that moral with which, say two hundred (200), SPLA soldiers could defeat Sudan Armed forces (SAF) numbering, perhaps, a thousand (1000)?
Mr. President, this is an open question which I do not intend you to answer because the answer does not lie with you but with the army generals! The point is, during times such as this, we need to give our army at the battle-field some reasonable bonuses which, I believe, will arouse some lost moral. An increased salary during times of war, I think, is a good motivation for a soldier at the battle-field. Our army need this simple thing, Mr. President. We as a nation need to hold together facing challenges from authoritarian government of the Sudan. We can defeat them especially if we accept our weaknesses and improve on them alongside building on areas of our competences! We need to be supportive at all times: in moments of success and of defeat. And believing that ISRAEL shall give us military aid, may I ask your Excellency to direct the Chief of General Staff to ensure that Generals commanding war troops be together with them at the battle-field just as we commonly know it is an incentive for winning against an enemy and creates an element of moral necessary to cause success!
May it impress your Excellency what I shall say in curing the political disease in Khartoum. For sure, we are at times of political stress and so the mind thinks that way. I hold the view that if we need a comprehensive cure for that disease, then we must think of a regime change in Khartoum which I think we can manage given our ties with the SPLM-N and to solicit support form opposition parties may not be too difficult. Mr. President, May I remind you that the NCP is a cause of our souring relations with the Sudan. Yes I must say it is because the President of the Republic of Sudan, the Governor of Southern Kordofan and the Minister of Defense are all ICC indictees for crimes committed in relation to Darfur rebellion! Do we expect any good from this leadership having on it individuals who have records of criminal responsibility and who call us “mercenaries and Insects” ? Of course not, Mr. President but I recommend your Excellency takes this as a long term comprehensive political solution. It is long term in the sense that we need to barter this idea with individual members of SPLM-N as well as unmentioned allies in the Republic of Sudan and get them on our side. We can better manage it with support from our allies but this is no time to think that way because there is a declared war on our state. So your Excellency may invest in this idea as a longer answer to the recurring political nuisance of the authoritarian regime in Khartoum!
I must apologise to your good office, Mr. President, in case I have erred in writing this letter but I am acting in my capacity as a patriotic citizen having the goodwill for our nation. May this letter give your Excellency the courage to face the current political surge with determination, confidence and motivation to invest in the democracy of our nation and to know that there are patriots who always think of this nation day and night.
Mr. President, allow me to say a big thank you for having read my letter as I have confidence in your administration as President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces.
May God enrich your leadership with ideas necessary for the growth and flourishing of democracy and rule of law in our nation!
The Author is a student of Law at the Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology, Jonglei State, South Sudan. He can be reached at: [email protected] or [email protected]