South Sudan Peace: The hope for the hopeless

By: Kuach Y. Tutkuay

"It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings"–Mahatma Gandhi

Mrach 18, 2014 (SSNA) — In the wake of December armed conflict that had plunged the country into civil war, the civil population of south Sudan witnessed the worst forms of crime against humanity committed on them by militiamen of both groups in form of displacement, ethnic lynching, raping, properties looting and massive destruction. This left the vast south Sudan population food insecure and in critical health condition. It is a shock to the world at large that the survivors of the longest civil war who embraced their freedom with joy and hope during the independent celebration in 2011 fall short of maintaining their oneness and forging a culture of peace and co-existence. Instead, the poor leadership by the ex-combatants-turned-politicians has created an ethnic rift which had torn the country apart.

I do not need to explain about the past, I belief most of my readers knows it better than I do; for south Sudan has been a  "bandit territory" characterized by lawlessness, corruption, poor education, poor health services, week institutions, and most of all, lack of political will and ethics. To conclude the endless list with a full scale civil war describes in the best terms possible what we call south Sudan today―too ridiculous that the yesterday’s victims of Arab killing are today’s perpetrators, killing their own people―this made it obscure what we were fighting for. To also shade more light on the real south Sudan I used to fancy: this is a south Sudan where people finds unity in their diversity, where peace justice and equality sounds audibly loud, where citizens beats their chests and says, "I am a south Sudanese" where constitution is the supreme authority, where leaders are servants and not masters, and where human properties, liberty and rights are protected.

In order to realized this south Sudan of our dreams, we must get out of "the mess we are in" and as for now, I confess that it will be very difficult to do this on our own. With the help of the international community, there is hope in numbers that we can achieve it. South Sudan’s problem is not the communities, though the communities fights themselves.

The major problem is the leaders, as such, I am proposing two distinct solutions to the problem in south Sudan that the international community need to buy in so as to get us out of here into a better south Sudan. The following are the options that can help us out:

1. interim administration: Both parties involved in the fight desperately wants leadership and each of them do not want to come under the leadership of the other group. To evenly reconcile these two dynamics is not easy a task. In this case, an interim government will work, but to be wiser, the same faces to the conflict do not need to appear as this will pave way to another new, and surely the worst genocide ever witnessed. It would be folly to crown a murderer in "all gowns and robes" as a priest and the congregation’s blood still stained all over his hands. I can recall president Kiir saying on 14th December in the SPLM convention meeting that "1991 will not happen again." This speaks for itself what the president mean literally. I am afraid the same word will be repeated in the new administration that include Kiir and Machar. The two will not focus on inter-communal peace dialogue and reconciliation, instead, they will involve in a neck to neck competition  such that they are not caught by surprise in case of any other incident that may happen. For the sake of the innocents south Sudanese, we do not want this to happen again. It is not easy, the lives lost, the properties, the displacement could not be afforded for the second time by the citizens of this nascent state. We must avoid it by any mean possible. South Sudan has a good number of educated people within or abroad who had no hand in the current crisis, these people are deemed neutral by the south Sudanese communities. As good as my opinion is concerned, the interim president should come from these people and not from the two rival communities―the Nuer and the Dinka― whether involved or neutral, instead, he/she should be from other tribes, specially the minorities. This will create a win-win feeling between the rival communities and will also create sense of inclusiveness among the minority tribes. The two factions could then be given equal number of ministerial, gubernatorial  and ambassadorial seats―assuming the parliament consists of the same elected MPs and should not be tempered with. With the help of the international community, this interim administration could be tasked with the constitutional review, institutionalizing and empowering government institutions, inter-communal peace dialogue and reconciliation, prepare a safer ground for the 2015 south Sudan election, but, to be on the safe side, this administration should be on an ad hoc basis. That is to say they should not be legible to contest in 2015 election as this may provide room for election rigging, hence, another conflict.

2. Trusteeship of the UN: The second option would be to put the country under the responsibility of the UN trusteeship council. The president of the council would then appoint who is to be the interim president of south Sudan. The UNTC would  be tasked, in relation to their mandate, to work with the citizens of south Sudan to serves the best interest of the community, ensure peace and security and prepare peaceful transition of power and democratic reforms.  The UNTC should work with the existing structures to streamline freedom of press, rule of law, access to justice for all, and all other phenomena deemed necessary to bolster good governance. They should prepare, conduct and monitor the election to make sure it is free and fair. The mandate of the UNTC in south Sudan could elapse in 2015 after swearing in of the new democratic government which would takes the country forward henceforth. The new administration and the UNMISS should continue to work together jointly to accomplish activities like the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme, Inter-communal peace dialogue and reconciliation and capacity development in the areas of rule of law, press freedom, human rights and good governance.

The international community stood aloof with arms akimbo, face askance and mouth agape and still have in mind the idea of "Chuck Norris will do it" Oh come on! Chuck Norris can do it only in Hollywood. The world should not leave the issue to IGAD alone considering the dynamism of conflicting interests among the neighbors of south Sudan. Chances are that it might slip into regional war which would be difficult to handle. It would be wiser to hit the iron while still red hot as this crisis increase in complexity each passing day. A delay would surely mean allowing the conflict to take roots and change course. Most of the IGAD leaders have been known for quite sometimes as "backseat drivers" of south Sudan crisis, this made the citizens skeptical about their mediation roles on the IGAD round table. To mediate successfully between two parties, one must have a maximum trust from both parties; In IGAD’s case, I think I do not need to writes many words or apply logic to convince you readers that these body lost trust from both parties, it is crystal clear to every Dick, Tom and Harry that they are daytime peacemakers and nighttime fighters―except Uganda who chose to plainly take side in the combat. As the African proverb says, "a wise bird build it nest with other birds’ feathers"  perhaps this is what Uganda wants to apply.

Of these two options, many leaders or supporters who wants to maintain the status quo would disagree with me but the "average Joe" would agree with me for he needs an immediate solution to enable him live a normal live. Only after one of the two suggestions above is implemented would the hopeless south Sudanese heave sighs of relieve.

The author is could be reached on [email protected].

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