Will the Guns Torpedo the Chips in Addis Ababa?

By Deng Vanang

March 18, 2014 (SSNA) — Season of mushrooming parties is steadily on the rise again in South Sudan. The new craze is in the emergence of peace talks in an Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The old craze flashed back to 2010 elections and has something to do with old guerilla commanders forced into membership of liberation movements in which they heatedly argued with subsequent parting of ways in the jungles on how best the future be pursued. Cause of irreconcilable difference is on how best they could execute democracy all of which purportedly believe in. Quite ironical! With acrimonious parting of ways all could set up the same parallel democratic movements without pretence of elective leadership. Democracy without elections that deprived everyone to select his own choice of leaders and the participatory way decisions, inclusive of all views, could be made. 

So to speak, democracy in the minds of those quasi – liberal democrats was just ear – soothing song to hoodwink Westerners and locals hyping the lofty world of peace and prosperity embodied in democratic ideals. With the return to common sense of unity of purpose when all failed at the helm of fractions called movements, the same leaders who parted ways saw the light in ‘’unity being strength’’ at  long last on the road of inevitable failure. Ironically seen too were the same leaders re-negotiating previously loathed togetherness and not any of their followers leading them back to re-unification agreements as leaders if democracy had to be taken seriously. With the advent of peace ushered in a new era of freedom to choose social identity in political associations and dress codes, than military fatigue, that espoused new ideologies in the world of both freedom and prosperity.  With that dispensation many political parties came into the scene with the hope of capturing power through peaceful and fair elections minus the brute that comes with guns and blood. The liberals were dead wrong then. Elections, unbelievably, were held under the shadows of guns held by undisciplined defense forces that pledged true allegiance to the loose alliance of mighty war lords and tribal sultans under whom other weaklings were forced by circumstances to curdle during the push and pull of a bush life.

Now ten years down the memory lane, history repeats itself with South Sudan becoming more of a Somalia where parties resembling nuclear families are formed to satisfy the prevailing emotions of the moment so as to stake claim from highly contested national cake. The phenomenon of briefcase parties clawing back to the scene aims at asserting old claims from perennial rivals in completely new avenues. These parties are chips to be traded off on the peace table by their owners with strategic corners in crowded space in the yet to be formed interim government. In the backdrop of all these, politics and business proved inseparably intertwined components since creation and so is the case in South Sudan like anywhere on this planet earth.  Logic behind forming numerous parties doesn’t count here in most varied and simplest ways. For it beats logic to found party devoid of national characteristics with top – notch leaders being blood brothers, cousins, sisters, nephews, nieces and uncles while general membership is drawned from one fifth of a single village. Since there is no shortage of value-loaded words like democracy, equality, justice, development, prosperity, front, unity, holiness and etc. after which the already established parties are named, the new crops of leaders wanting to form parties can just join in.

And what is mind-boggling in these parties, moreover, is that they never got registered officially, making them mere under world business cartels operating beyond the long hands of the law with life span dictated by the presence of ongoing peace talks or lack of them if torpedoed under the wielded guns. Therefore, I may ask, are these new party leaders with minds laced with short memory becoming so forgetful too soon? Common wisdom immediately begs for an answer.

Deng Vanang is a journalist and executive member of South Sudan leading opposition party, the SPLM-DC and can be reached at: [email protected].

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