Squandered Opportunity Threaten South Sudan’s Sovereignty: Warring Parties may Lose the Country Unknowingly

By Gabrial Pager Ajang

August 17, 2014 (SSNA) — Since the beginning of the December 15th, 2013 war, South Sudanese moral leaders, and good hearted people have been pondering on how this war could possibly be ended? This existential question of life and death has caused many South Sudanese in the diaspora and South Sudan to criticize government, and rebels, offer their insights, and free framed proposals to the government. Besides, various international agencies and regional leaders have also offered tons of ideas and guidance to the government of South Sudan. Furthermore, it is not clear whether the government had a team that analyzes, organizes, and articulates these offered proposals to help pave way for reconciliation, peace and stability.  To my understanding, the powers of the president are usually proportional to his task; hence the President Kiir is responsible for proposing national programs, and articulate way forward than rebels can do. President can appoint a team to work on critical post-war issues, and if the government does not layout peace process programs, and remedies of the post-issues, stability and peace would hypothetically be hard to achieve. Sticking to militarization as a form governance, and allows problems to accumulate make fragile situations susceptible to war and volatility. Issues move precariously and rushing at the speed of light and suddenly cause conflict. We have witnessed how the militarization of Pualino Matip Nhial, Marial Chanoug, and Riek Machar guards in Juba (all known as presidential led current war).

The purpose of national standing army is to protect the national interest, and territorial integrity of South Sudan, and when that looses it meaning, and soldiers turn their guns onto citizens, the South Sudan loses its sovereignty’s protection. When the police fail to keep laws and orders, and deviated from their primary roles of protecting citizens, and resorted to mistreatment of citizens, South Sudan loses its legitimacy, and South Sudan becomes lawless. It is fundamental for all of us to understand that God will not descend from above to solve our problems; the government carries huge burdens of offering practical solutions to all post-war issues, and brings about peace than the rebels. Besides, the current militarization of youth could have a disastrous end if not carefully and responsibly managed. Ongoing negotiations and going to Ethiopia empty handed can never bring any lasting solutions. People of South Sudan want practical resolutions for war, and their problems…not necessary empty words televised every week. For example, people want laws, and orders, they want guarantee protections of their life and properties, and their constitution written.

It is worth noting that president Salva Kiir secured South Sudan independence. And I am also mindful that the administration is undergoing daunting task of managing a nation in crisis. However, perils of post-war issues are threatening viability of this country. There are irrefutable evidences that this crisis is exacerbated by SPLM leaders who made mistakes of taking regressive journey from the comprehensive implementation of the 2005 accord and initiated Cooperation Agreement. The left post-war issues have caused disagreement among the SPLM leaders and had plundered country into conflict.

The following elements of post-war issues have emerged as threat to South Sudan Sovereignty:

1. Failing to transform SPLA soldiers from guerrilla movement into conventional army caused more tribal militia.

2. Failing to write a governing document, supreme law of land, the constitution, has caused more skepticism about the government, and rebellions. Citizens are confused about South Sudan system of governance.

3. Deep tribal divisions spearheaded by national leaders is disturbing, some speak on the national TV, and not knowing what they say could have far more repercussions, and sow more divisions. National leader must understand that what they say matter to citizens.

4. Failing to transform SPLM party core organs and leadership from Guerrilla movement to a democratic political partially caused in December 15th, war.

5. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan governments are encroaching on South Sudan territories. SPLM leaders abandoned border demarcation; protocol well pronounced in the CPA and renegotiated CPA in the Cooperation Agreement. The creations of 14 mile are a clear violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

6. Lack of clear domestic programs, and foreign policies, just to mention few.

These daring national challenges are mounting, and they are jeopardizing citizens’ life, and future of this nation. South Sudan had clear borders and citizens are fighting themselves malevolently. It begs the questions; what is the future of this country, and what could possibly preserve national interest and sovereignty? Tribes are divided, and almost disagreed on every issue, for instance Dinka, and Nuer are deeply divided, and Dinka and Nuer are even more subdivided internally. This war kept together. Besides, these entrenched divisions, sowed by both government and rebels’ leaders are shocking and have caused more rampant tribalism. It would require a true national figure to resolve and eradicate tribalism. Moreover, national army has disintegrated into tribal militias, a new development that put South Sudan on the path of ungovernable state. These sowed divisions can cause nation greater harms. The trend is disturbing. Government officials and rebels are also engaging in blame games, and subversion of truth. Both rebels and government solders are responsible of solving national issues. However, some leaders and citizens have taken regressive, and they blamed tribes, and subtribes for mistakes made by national leaders. We are at the very sad state of affairs. If we love this country, we must tell the truth, it does not matter who commits the crimes.

SPLM leaders missed an opportunity when they rejected full implementation of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and initiated COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Today, South Sudan has lost all the towns in the north, and in borders of Uganda, Ethiopian and Kenya. These countries are gradually encroaching South Sudan territories. History indicates that territorial annexations are done slowly in such manner. It would be hard to antagonize three countries at the same time even if South Sudan borrowed Israelis military arsenals. What struck me is the government of South Sudan is aware that Lokichiogio is not the border between Kenya, and South Sudan and officials never issued a statement. Interestingly enough, there are no proposed national agendas critical to national interest that can unite south Sudanese. Leaders are so blinded by war to extend that they could loose South Sudan without Knowledge.

Sudan youth are finishing themselves, who will fight to restore borders, and territorial integrity? Current leaders, young people and new generations are charged with a responsibility of restoring, and repairing our ethnics divide.  It is high time to stop this war. Those older leaders must stop sidelining young emerging leaders who have better vision for country.

Rebels, and government are viciously fighting, and the neighboring countries are encroaching on South Sudan territories. We may lose this country while fighting war irrational war. Leaders who strive to lead the nation choose violence path of solving their problems. It is not just wrong, it is morally wrong for leaders to take the country to war. In the course of last nine months, war had killed thousands, destroyed towns, and displaced millions. This war is unjustifiable and unreasonable. The people of South Sudan have been done grave harmed and irreparable injustices.  After 150 years of struggle, war is the least item on South Sudan list. The actions taken by warring parties have only harmed future generation but it will affect future of this country. To South Sudanese citizens, dictators accumulate problems to obliterate country in order to divert citizen attentions from national significant agendas.

This entitlement saga in SPM/A leadership does not justify division sowed in the SPLM/A ranks, and tribalization of the whole country. SPLM seniors officials need to resolve their differences forsake of our nation. The fact that warring parties have mobilized South Sudanese youth to kill themselves to fulfill their selfish goals and interests is criminal. It is crimes committed against people and state. The tribal leadership principles that work to erode national programs is inflicting massive insults and shocking abhorrent of injustice to citizens. There must be a rude awakening over the annihilation of our people and towns. Is there evil in Greater Upper Nile that works day night to destroy livelihood of people and their towns? Am just curious! Both government and rebels’ leaders must check themselves; they are the carriers of this sin that annihilates South Sudan.

The worst of all are leaders who condone current state of affairs. Are we really satisfied with current state of affairs or does this country needs reforms? We seem to be silly, trivial, or infantile, especially in light of the horrors of this war. I reject rebellion, I get it. It is inhumane and cruel for any leader to engage in decapitation of youth as oppose to seek for none violence solutions and democratic mean of ascending to the nation highest office.

South Sudan leadership at the domestic and international stage is at stake. The warring parties’ leaders will be forced to make tough choice and end this war. Good moral leaders never cannot engage in blasphemous behaviors, and annihilation of their own people. Bentiu, Bortown, and Malakal have exchanged hands more than five times, and only a criminal would reject peace and attack these towns again. Is there anything left to be killed or destroyed? Why attacking towns that have been reduced to ashes? What sorts of leaders could attack these ruin towns and survive to be leaders of South Sudan?

Furthermore, denying everything, leaders act like no single person have been killed in South Sudan, denying accountability, deflecting true responsible individuals that commit crimes forsake of diverting blame to others. Leaders altered the meaning of those responsible of crimes to create a lot of moral sounding talk while actually eliminating morality and accountability. The collective benefit and protection of life merits are reverence by all citizens and could bring desperate needed peace, and unity. Moral leaders guide their nation into brighter and prosperous future. I am aware that post issues are complicated and some tribal problems are very deep. However, leadership that is not guided by moral conviction to solve citizen problems and not undergirded by moral leadership make possessor of that conviction obnoxious and the dogma became repulsive.


South Sudan can survive this looming crisis and tragedy if its produces a governing document, and balance powers among its branches of government. This country can survive if its adopt ideology that guides all its citizens. This country can survive if there is consent from the governed (citizens), if citizens are consulted of their issues. This country can survive if citizens have faith in control of their government, and protection guarantee from government. This country can survive if powers are shared between the state, and central governments. This country can survive if this government can see its citizens as equal citizens and not tribes or painted them as rebels. This country can survive if post-war issues are thoroughly resolved, ethnic divides are bridged, and national healing is initiated. This national can survive if national leaders distance themselves from tribal politics, tribal supports, and tribal militia affiliations. This country can survive if it can protect and returns its towns encroached upon by the neighboring countries. This country can survive if the government permits all citizens of South Sudan to voice their opinions to national leaders without sever repercussions. Our heroes and heroines would have died in vain if our current leaders do not stop tribal toxic politics and frame national agendas, and protect South Sudan Sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Gabrial Pager Ajang is a Political Science and History Instructor at Wright Career College. He can be reached at [email protected].

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