May 9, 2015 (SSNA) — Just, durable and sustainable peace is deeply rooted in openly and honestly discussing the root causes of the conflict. It is these root causes that distinguish between who is an aggressor and aggressed. With this finding, the aggressor is served with reasonable punishment and aggressed rewarded with verdict of innocence.
The aggressor is then asked to pay the aggressed the losses he incurred in order to restore him to safe position before the time of the inflicted harm, be it physically or materially.
With punishment, aggressor is taught invaluable lesson that crime doesn’t pay and never to repeat the costly exercise in future. While this apportioned punishment cools the enraged heart of the aggressed that there is a lot to gain morally when standing on the side of justice that sets social trends for exemplary life of peace and stability.
From this point of view, it is not the appeasement in apportioning blame to all sides of the conflict by mediator just to be seen fair that matters but just peace that points out where wrong or right lies so as to craft practical solution that addresses the crisis at hand amicably.
As it is impractical for two sides of the conflict to be both right and wrong and equally not the retribution against the perceived wrong doer the best way forward but reasonable act of deterrence becoming the hallmark of justice system if premeditated crime shall be anything of the past.
Window shopping for peace that treats the aggressed and aggressor as equally wrong or right is not only impractical approach to unravel in more foreseeable future, but also a cruel method of covering the wrongs of one side with which to get away. It is a recipe for even more disaster than the one people seek to tackle now.
In families and societies immoral behaviors are taken as normal struggles of daily life, then there exists a continuous tendency of the same being committed over and over again with dire consequence of such set ups remaining in vicious cycle of stagnancy or retardation or even both.
Again, warring parties don’t choose the kind of peace each wants. The course peace takes is dictated by myriads of ingredients, such as root causes both principal and subsidiary, disastrous effects – long term and short term and most sustainable remedies to the conflict.
Yes the perceived wrong doer may own up while the wronged honestly accepts and forgives for a just peace mutually acceptable to all sides can be attained.
However, in the case both sides pull the ropes the mediator has the final word based on his fair assessment of what really caused the conflict.
The mediator in pursuit of just peace shouldn’t be blackmailed by consequences of his perceived just act no matter how dire they may be. In avoidance to take the course of justice for fear of the side his act will adversely affect, then justice that could resolve conflict is not served.
It is equally scaremongering and defense mechanism at best to the benefits of the wrong doer as cited by some opinion writers. To them, a stronger SPLA backed by its local defense forces could manage to marshal and destabilize the country if bad peace is imposed on the government in the country built on the foundation of tribal sentiments.
The said opinions are advanced without considering the fact that the same SPLA with the full backing of Uganda’s People Defense Force, UPDF, the allied Sudan’s rebel groups and locally trained multi-ethnic militants has been contained by a pre-dominantly single ethnic armed group in the name of SPLA-In- Opposition. What if it is the UN’s backed military intervention, can SPLA and its allies survive in the face of such onslaught?
Whereas, the same advanced hypotheses wrongly defined South Sudan’s problem as that of tribes which hate themselves than the lack of equitable development as promoted by corrupt and tribal politicians who use resources to divide and rule tribes in order to maintain tight grips on positions of political supremacy and economic plunder.
Truth be told, before formation of SPLM/A back in 1983, not a single tribe mobilized itself and occupied the land of another or had been in constant feud with another save for isolated peaceful land encroachments and sporadic rustling incidents orchestrated by a few individual cattle entrepreneurs.
If United Nations peace keeping force takes charge and forms people – centered government that delivers social services in healthcare and education, roads and communication networks as well as creates favorable environment conducive for rule of law, freedom of speech, fair employment, and business and trade these politicians will just be deprived of recruitment ground to wage self-serving wars against one another.
Also citing cases of Somalia, Iraq and Libya so as to influence the third party’s intervention in a way wrongly favorable to certain side or else South Sudan will go the same way those countries have taken is an empty political rhetoric.
The deterioration of situation in these countries followed third party’s intervention that aimed at totally supplanting the favored opposition with hated establishment. It is a win -loss political approach.
In Somalia it was destroying Ahmed Farah Aideed with Ali Mahdi in the past and currently Al-shabaab with moderate Islamic groups. It is pitting Shiites against Saddam Hussein’s Sunnis in Iraq. In Libya, it is propelling long aggrieved people of Benghazi over and above Tripoli’s ruling clique.
That is all done at the expense of creating a whole new system in those countries comprised of members with no criminal records from all warring sides followed by rigorous process of national reconciliation and healing.
The same quarters similarly feel warring parties be given an ample time to make peace in order to avoid an imposed peace from outside that shall rather serve to aggravate the already worse situation in South Sudan.
The problem is not shortness of time given to parties to make their own peace but it is impossibility of these parties to reach a workable peace agreement even if given a century and the destruction the war shall cause the longer it takes while rumbling on.
Within a span of a year and half, the war caused the death of modest estimate of 50,000 people, displaced 2 million others and unknown number of those it maimed, then how destructive it will be if allowed to go on indefinitely in discretion of the warring parties?
When it is common knowledge worldwide the longer the conflict takes, the more it creates high human casualties and material destruction while arousing in the process terrible emotions too difficult for the parties to reach comprises for any future agreement.
Another impractical opinion doing the round among some members of academia is that South Sudan’s war should be ended by world powers’ consensus, probably in the United Nations Security Council. When it is known to all and sundry members of global UN, regional and sub-regional blocs in AU, Arab League, etc. hardly agree on a single course of action ever since the cold war’s era.
Given the current multi-polarity of the world, five permanent members of UN’s Security Council such as US, China, Russia, Britain and France are even more divided. With US as sole super power is getting more weakened to impose its will by over ambitious China and resurging Russia as formidable challengers.
Hence, required unanimity of decision with subsequent action remains a distant mirage. Although US with its Western allies in European Union, EU still wields some considerable leverage to bulldoze its way against certain set obstructions.
Though given a considerable period of time, South Sudanese leaders failed to come up with political will to address issues of bad governance for the last ten years that eventually caused December, 2013’s violence as well as their unbridled intransigence to reach a required compromise at peace talks.
With mediators’ failing suggestion of two principals that include those accused of political and economic crimes in yet to be released AU’s Commission of Inquiry reports be barred from purposed Transitional Government of National Unity, TGNU.
Or South Sudan to be governed under the UN’s trusteeship for a five – year term also falling flat on its face.
It is now safe to say that let the benevolent world in the next rounds of peace talks intervene in whichever way it thinks fit.
That is in the best interests of ordinary, economically deprived, ethnically divided and long suffering South Sudanese, being the real victims of this war so as to rid the country’s dented image of warmonger Generals, corrupt politicians, incompetent bureaucrats and pseudo intellectuals.
Deng Vanang is a Journalist and Author of ‘’South Sudan the Making of a Nation, A Journey from Ethnic Polities to Self-rule, State and Democracy’’. He can be reached at [email protected].