By Garang Achiek Ajak
Syracuse, New York, June 18, 2014 (SSNA) — The solution to South Sudan’s current conflict lies within the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) manifesto as formulated by Dr. John Garang. When South Sudan first took up arms against the tyrannical regime in the north, we claimed we were fighting for democracy, equality, and freedom. We took up arms against marginalization.
South Sudan won that fight and attained statehood. This was a chance to finally create a democratic nation-state in South Sudan whereby the rule of law, equality, and freedom were meant to be paramount.
Soon after gaining independence from the north, however, we diverged from the right path. Instead, South Sudan became a nation what we fought against. We turned our back on democracy and chose dictatorship as the means to govern ourselves. And sadly, we fell short of our democratic aspirations. As a result, things fell apart once again in our country and now we are in the midst of tearing South Sudan apart.
The solution to the current quagmire in South Sudan lies from within and not from without. South Sudanese leaders must know that they cannot import leadership skills from elsewhere to govern the country. They already possess a solution to our current crisis. All they have to do is ask these simple questions, “Why did they revolt against the successive tyrannical regimes in Khartoum? Was it to democratize the country and to bring equality and freedom to all the citizens? Or was it to consolidate power amongst themselves upon winning the war of liberation?”
President Kiir knows why he took arms and joined the Sudanese People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). That also goes for Mr. Riek and all the others leaders across South Sudan. It was imperative that they joined the war of liberation in order to fight tyranny in Khartoum and to also bring southerners out of bondage and oppression. They fought for democracy and freedom, yet they seemed to have forgotten this.
The idea that they cannot find a solution to the current conflict in South Sudan is ridiculous at best. The choice is easy. Either the nation embraces liberal democracy – and not the sham democracy both president Kiir and Mr. Machar are preaching – or we embrace the status quo.
Liberal democracy is not just about periodic elections. It is much more than that. It is about the protection of individual rights (the right to life, to liberty and for the pursuit of happiness), the protection of minority rights, rules where everybody is equal under the law, and a freedom of press.
Southerners have never experienced partial peace in their lifetimes. The time for total peace is now.
South Sudanese leaders owe it to the people. The time for freedom is not tomorrow, but now. The more the conflict in South Sudan drags on, the more it will be apparent that this mayhem is not about the people, but about the leaders. Most people already believe that this conflict has nothing to do with individuals of the nation or their livelihood in the first place.
South Sudan is proving that it lacks the transformational leaders it needs. In a time of crisis like this, transformative leaders come up with bold ideas and solid solutions that can shape the future for generations. It is a responsibility for leaders to solve pressing issues that affect a country.
So here is our South Sudan, mired in unending conflict, with masses of people suffering from preventable diseases, displaced from their homes and living day to day without adequate food. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. The suffering placed on South Sudan is man-made and should be rectified. Both president Kiir and former vice president Machar must move swiftly and boldly to bring peace to the country. They must unite the people and the country immediately.
Furthermore, Kiir and Machar must not be the ones who tear apart South Sudan and its people to advance their own causes. If both Kiir and Machar care about the nation, it is high time for them to find a lasting solution that will end the crisis. They will bring peace permanently to the country. That is simply what the people want.
South Sudan leaders must work tirelessly to unite and reconcile the individuals who make up the nation. This must be done quickly.
We are one. We are South Sudan. The country belongs to all of us and our diversity must be our strength and not our weakness. The future of this country depends on our co- existence. Otherwise, peace will keep eluding us all and the fair shot at happiness will keep diminishing. More corrupt leaders will come and go, but the relations with each other, as people, can determine the future of our country.
The choice is clear. It is either we reconcile our differences, forge a common South Sudan identity, refrain from inciting tribal hatred, put the interest of the country first in order to build a prosperous, free and democratic country, or we do the complete opposite and keep plunging the country into an abyss where no one will be safe, where corruption will be rampant, where hunger will continue to kill, and where we will not have a country to call home.
Peace is within us. We just have to look from within.
Compromise is the only thing in this world that separates human beings from the beasts of the wild. Both the leaders of South Sudan and South Sudanese people must compromise. They must do it now for the sake of the country. Externally engineered solutions will not help bring a resolution because whatever solution offered by them will be a temporary fix.
The solution lies internally within all of us.
Garang Achiek Ajak is a concerned citizen living in New York. He can be reached at [email protected].