The way forward for South Sudan-Peace Talk@ Addis Ababa

By Ngomlac Lahm,

Opinion.

South Sudan mediators, SPLM representative at peace talk in Addis Ababa(Photo: file)

South Sudan mediators, SPLM representative at peace talk in Addis Ababa(Photo: file)

23rd July, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — It is good practices to put time frame on negotiation when the causes that led to the conflict are identify. Negotiation should not be allowed to go on indefinitely. In case of South Sudan, I do not think the main cause of the crisis is a power struggle between President Salvatore Kiir and Dr. Riak Machar as being portrayed by IGAD mediators and other media outlets. It would be a grave mistake if IGAD continue to think that the conflict could be resolve by sharing power between the two gentlemen. We should not hurry to form the transitional government without first agreeing on the scope of work/term of reference for this new administration otherwise we are just postponing the issue for another day to explode. Believe me or not we will just be sending this new group to Juba to initiate another fighting in the capital.

IGAD should refrain from prescribing solutions to the conflict rather it should ensure that the negotiation is going on well and the parties stick to the declaration of principles. For us to minimize the circle of violence and prevent any other groups in South Sudan from resorting to army struggle then we must tackle the issues that led to ongoing killings and destruction of property. It is therefore wrong for people like Mr. Makeui Lueth to say that only those holding arms are the one to be in the negotiation table at Addis Ababa. In my view below are the issues the negotiating teams should concentrate on;

1-     Governance-is at the core of the current crisis otherwise the President would have not abuse the constitutional power by ordering the massacre of innocent civilians in Juba. One person in the name of the president was given excessive power by the John Luke’s constitution to the extent that he thought he owns South Sudan. He even went as far as believing that he could denial any civilians his/her God given rights. The country was basically a clan property. President Kiir assumes he was a small god in South Sudan. The only thing that was left that President could not take away or denial any citizen was oxygen apart from killing. That is why it is important to have a constitution that would limit the power of the executive and ensure independence of the legislature and Judiciary.

2-     Security sector– this was just a congregation of tribal militias rather than a national army. That explain why it was easy for the President also to set up his own militias from one community disguised as a presidential guard to protect his clan government. The security sector need total overhaul and a new national army has to be establish. The current security personnel do not reflect the image of the nation as such it pledges its allegiance to the President and not even to the John Luke’s constitution. Otherwise the army would have protected the country from self-destruction because of individual ambitions.

3-     Public Service sector– It is packed with semi-literate group of people from one community who took settle at school from rain and later on claim to be educated. Former soldiers who participated in the civil war being awarded positions as a reward for their sacrifice. That is why we are unable to develop any institution to deliver service to the populace. You cannot sacrifice management in the name of pleasing former soldiers.

4-     Electoral Commission-we need to establish an independent electoral body with credible and honest members. The body should be acceptable to all political parties. If need be we may even ask a foreign candidate to head the institution until such time we feel we can pick one of us to manage it.

5-     Judiciary sector reform-Instead of being an independent arm of government, it was receiving order from the President. All the judges were president appointees including the Chief Justice and Attorney General. That explained why the CJ was agitated when a group of Lawyers lodge a case against the president for violating Pagan’s right of movement. Cases of land grabbing specifically in Equatoria region at the courts being handle discriminatory and causing resentment and bitterness.

6-     Formation of a mini national and state assembly– The current legislative assemblies both at national and state level must be dismantle for the transitional government to function well. Majority of the members are President Appointees as such they are likely to impend and sabotage the work of the transitional authority. Therefore a mini national and state legislative assembly should be establish for assist the transitional arrangement at both level.

7-     Federal System– the conversation about the federal system of government has been on for quiet sometime. The Equatorians mentioned it in their two documents submitted to the national government. Recently the SPLM-IO also echoes the same sentiment and has come up with 21 states based on the Southern Sudan colonial districts of 1956. Several South Sudan academicians have posted their opinions on federal system in various South Sudan websites. However it is only the regime of Kiir that has done the opposite by warning the people in SPLM-Juba controlled areas not to discuss this topic. He went even further by equating federal to Kokora ‘’ re-division of Southern Sudan into three regions in 1983’. If this popular demand by majority of South Sudanese is not listen to then the resolution to the peace talk would be Band-Aids settlement.

As it stands now IGAD is trying to put the cart before the horse by hurrying to the formation of the Interim administration. If the warring parties could agree on the framework for the seven items, then a transitional government will be a product.

In conclusion, Dr. Riak Machar has already indicated his desire not to participate in the transitional government and therefore it would be imperative for President Kiir to step down and both act as guardians/Principals to the Interim government. Also any South Sudanese who had served in the Kiir government at ministerial level should be bar from participating in the transitional administration to avoid internal wrangling.

The author can be reached at ngomlac_lahm@yahoo.com

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