Smothering Justice Can only perpetuates violence in South Sudan

By Chap Phan

December 10, 2014 (SSNA) — The ongoing civil war in South Sudan has killed over 20,000 and displaced many millions since the beginning of the war. Peace talk which was supposed to solve the political crisis has not yield any result despite the involvement of prominent countries, namely: United States, Norway, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, North Sudan, and other East African Regional bloc (IGAD) member states. 

The worse of all begun in December 15th, 2013 when the government of salve kiir conducted mass killing of civilians based on ethnic lines. Thus, effectively Salve Kiir triggered the current civil war when the Nuer population were targeted and killed in their residences area for three day.

Not only did  Kirr government short changed its responsibility to protect all citizens,Kirr sent the wrong signal on impunity from the start went he fabricated the truth about the genesis of crisis which is why many South Sudanese hardly believe anything government says; the government is effectively not trusted on anything it says.

1.1 The inflection point

Knowing that they had no choice but to defend for themselves, since the beginning of the war majority of Nuer population picked up arms and fought back to the government that killed their brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. Their primary demand has been for Salve Kiir to step down from the power. So far Kiir has responded by defending his legitimacy and refused to step down. His supporter maintain that Kiir was freely elected and that only democratic means can only unseated him, they find it as their duty to protect fragile democratic system that have served the country for the last several years and are willing to oppose any one that would undermine it through armed struggle.

Yet it is not a question that majority of Nuer population have lost faith in the Kiir’s government, they insists that the unnecessary death of Nuer civilians in capital Juba shows that Kiir government is tribal based government that planned to kill all Nuer just because they are from Nuer. Many Nuer people insists that the event that manifested itself into the death of Nuer civilians for three day before the outbreak of the war reflects the long prevailing attitudes and behavior within Kiir’s company.  Many believed that the killing of Nuer would had not stopped had it not been for Gen. Gadet Yaka, who acted with courage and determination.  Large population of Nuer find it hard to acknowledged current status quo; it’s believe that government does not hold same respect when it failed to hold up to it obligation, primarily the need to protect civilians.  

1.2 In principle

The bloody chaos that started in capital Juba has ensured a broader civil war within South Sudan. Salve kirr bears primary political responsibility for the chaos in the country precisely because he is the president and the crisis erupted on his watch. It is certainly true that Kiir was elected, but elected leader has responsibility to protect civilian’s despites their political and tribal affiliation. Election is not a license to kill. When elected leader failed to perform their duty people have the right to ask their leader to step down. The outburst of the Nuer to wage war on Kiir government is the result of death of Nuer civilians in Juba, causality and sequence of the event matters.

It’s undesirable to unseat freely elected government because it set a bad precedent for democratic system and it tends to create incentive for dissatisfy candidates to pursue their agendas through violence. But its equally dreadful to allowed government to get away with mass murder, it set precedent that when a government is in power it can use all means possible to suppress independent voices (citizens) and crash opponent to cement their power without consequences. Kiir government cracked down on civil societies, arrested of opposition leaders, and long manipulation of rule of law are meant to concentrate power and to ultimately undermine democracy, peace, and prosperity.    

1.3 On performance

Kiir has ruled South Sudan for several years with little achievement. Over the last several years thousands of South Sudanese were, and are still, dying everyday over land and cattle. Much of his leadership has proved incapable of dealing with any crisis, and the ongoing crisis is deepening precisely because he lacked character and could not get beyond his own narrow political interests while the whole country he claim to be in charged of slipped ever deeper into crisis.  He cannot take full responsibility for what happened in Juba, yet his response-sending more military weapon with mission of killing civilians is delusional and counterproductive. His long mismanagement of political process produced the ongoing crisis; he is incompetent.

1.4 The trust deficit

Kiir and his henchmen have protected the entitlement state of their contradiction ever since the beginning of this crisis. Kiir and his henchmen have reputational costs to government system.   For instance, Kiir, nor his henchmen, seemed not alarmed when hundreds of Nuer civilians were murdered for three day straight.  Those people that died were not bad people; they were regular people that are well respected in their respective community. Thus, Kiir government cannot and should not be trust to correct the injustice and corruption it has created.  Perhaps Kiir administration is not fighting against the Nuer population, but it is hard to convince the world that the government is respected when majority of Nuer people are locked up in the UN camps fearing for their life; the continues hardship toward Nuer population testifies the contradiction on Kiir administration. It’s mockery of justice to expect Nuer civilians to accept him as their president, the rights of citizens’ matters, smothering their right only perpetuates violence.   

1.5 Where does South Sudan go from Here?

The last six years has shown that South Sudanese elite and political figure lacks confidence to right things , the current crisis accumulated as result of culture that avoid decision that involved risk in hope that events would go away. For instance, the passing of constitution that gave president Kiir power to remove an elected governor is incompetent and lack of foresight on the individual(s) that wrote it and individual(s) that passed it. South Sudanese political figures flaunted their obligation since this crisis begun, unless we demands greater expectation nothing will change.  If South Sudan learned anything it is that we should set high expectation for our leaders and hold them to account.

The current crisis goes beyond one tribe; it is about governability and the future of South Sudan, it is about setting up a system that will serve all interests of all people.  It is about setting up check and balances on the central government, state and local government. It is a search for genuine democracy in world of unpredictable personality type.

1.6 time is up

Kiir views and basic governing philosophies are not helpful at this time. South Sudan is in desperate need of effective leadership and fresh new thinking to propel South Sudan from current crisis. South Sudan deserve better leader than Kiir, and it’s up to the people of South Sudan, yes, including both Nuer and  Dinka to hold their leader accountable, this is precisely why Kiir should step down now.  Until we hold our leaders to high standard and question activities and their leadership style, we should not expect change.  We cannot achieve sustained peace unless we set conditions, constraints, pressures and expectation that affect the culture and restored justice.  All president leadership traits are judged in light of their outcomes, if South Sudan is not divided as it stance now I would view Kiir as brilliant chap, but the outcome of the last year have destroyed south Sudan as we know it, South Sudan is looking for president that think few step ahead and anticipate evil regime, Kiir need to go.

Chap Phan live in Michigan, USA, he can be reach at [email protected].

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