By Equatorians Leaders in Diaspora.
· H.E. Festus Mogae, Chairman of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), Juba, South Sudan
· The Chair of IGAD-Plus, C/o H.E Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
April 13, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —–-First, we would like to take this rare opportunity to welcome the imminent arrival of 1st Vice President designate Dr. Riek Machar to the capital Juba. We appeal to the President of the Republic to extend an open hand in welcoming in good faith, his compatriot Dr. Riek Machar Teny, leader of the SPLM/A (In Opposition) and all those who had taken arms back to the country. Our people have suffered enough; it is time to rebuild the ruins. Now is the time to gain the political courage, wisdom and patriotism and rise above tribal sentiments to silence the guns forever, and to revert the unprecedented social and material damage inflicted upon the people and the land by the “senseless” war that broke out in December 2013.
Unfortunately, in spite of the permanent ceasefire, government forces are on offensive in parts of the formerly peaceful regions of greater Equatoria and Western Bahar el Ghazal and parts of Upper Nile.
Secondly, we acknowledge the huge challenges awaiting the transitional government of national unity as it embarks in earnest with implementation of the Agreement for resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) signed in August 2015, by the main parties to the conflict namely: the government of the Republic, the SPLM/A-IO and the Former Detainees. However, as we pointed out in our previous statements, we reiterate that:
- The Agreement was not inclusive, it was an Agreement among SPLM/A factions, and therefore ignored other legitimate national political stakeholders.
- That the Agreement was flawed because it did not sufficiently address the core issues which led to the outbreak of the conflict in the first place. It merely divided powers between the various factions of the SPLM/A which regrettably is a recipe for future instability.
- Cantonment sites in Equatoria
We are deeply dismayed by the spread of government offensive and violence into Western, Central, and Eastern Equatoria states. It should be recalled that Equatorians of all walks of life at the time, resisted to join the uprising in the wake of the massacre of Nuers in Juba in December 2013, not because Equatorians are cowards as some communities want to portray but to primarily diffuse the rebellion and stop it from engulfing the whole nation which would have defeated the objectives of our independence in the first instance. However, it would be politically unwise and dishonest to deny existence of resistance and rebellion across Equatoria today. It should be noted that Gen. Alfred Lado Gore, the Deputy Chairman of SPLM-IO, is an Equatorian and there are many sons and daughters of Equatoria who took up arms independently but later agreed to operate under the banner of SPLM/A-IO. Without the presence of these Equatorians, in the SPLM/A-IO, the rebellion would not have been recognised by the international community and denounced as a tribal movement. We the sons and daughters of Equatoria see the hostile government rhetoric and military aggression against the cantonment sites in Equatoria as a strategy to deny Equatorians from eventually being absorbed into the national army. There shall be no national army in the Republic of South Sudan which will consist of only two ethnic groups to the exclusion of all the other 62 ethnic tribes.
- The Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU)
The three principal parties to the Agreement are factions of the same SPLM/A. It should be pointed out that the South Sudan is not synonymous with SPLM/A and all its tributaries. Furthermore, the current political reality in South Sudan is that membership of the SPLM/A is heavily skewed towards the two single tribes (Dinka & Nuer). If not mitigated, this will have the consequence of the two single tribes (Dinka & Nuer) being over represented not just in the national army, but also in the government of national unity. This is a serious concern to our future and stability in South Sudan. We therefore urge the Principals to the Agreement to rise above ethnic affiliations and ensure that all the institutions of national government including the structures and the various Commissions, created in the ARCISS are proportionally represented by competent sons and daughters of Bahar el Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria regions. This is to ensure that:
- The Unity that is prescribed in the Agreement is not the unity of the SPLM/A party because the SPLM/A is not South Sudan, but the unity of the various communities that make the nation of South Sudan.
- The Presidency of the TGoNU, seriously disadvantages the people of Equatoria. However, we welcome the allocation of the position of the Speaker of the national legislature to an Equatorian by the ARCISS, provided that the separation of powers between the Presidency and the Legislature is observed. In addition we require that heads of the main institutions of government: the judiciary, the military, the security, the police, wild life, prisons, customs and the Bank of South Sudan are not monopolised by members of the two ethnic tribes but equitably distributed across all the three major former regions of Bahar el Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria.
iii. South Sudan is at a critical juncture. The future stability and viability of the country as a nation depends on the painful decisions the President of the Republic and the first Vice President designate will make. We are urging for a marked departure from the narrow tribal affinities which characterised implementation of the CPA (2005) which plunged the country into this mess.
- Authoritarian leadership
We are concerned about the continuing crack down on the fundamental freedoms and human rights. We call upon you the President, to stop your authoritarian rule and create an enabling environment for implementation of the ARCISS. We urge for tolerance of differences of political opinions. We urge the TGoNU to stop further instances of extrajudicial killings, disappearances of citizens, arbitrary arrests and detention of political prisoners without charge and trial. In the spirit of peace, national unity and reconciliation, we expect the same general amnesty that is accorded to those who had taken arms against the government, to be extended to sons of Equatoria who never took up arms against the government such as former Governor of Western Equatoria Hon. Joseph Bangasi Bakasoro and Prof. Onek who are in detention despite the fact that they never took up arms against the government. We also urge the government to create a conducive atmosphere for the return of compatriot Pagan Amum Okech as signatory to the ACRISS and leader of the Former Detainees.
We would like to remind the incoming government that our people took up arms against the Arab North domination and subjugation to be a free and sovereign people, not to fall victims of state terrorism. The ideals of freedom, equality of citizenship, the rule of law, and democracy doesn’t diminish with the independence of South Sudan. On the contrary, we expect our national leaders, to practice responsible leadership and demonstrate respect to the dignity and sanctity of life. We urge for ushering in a true era of democratic transformation in a new South Sudan not based on brutal use of force but on principles of persuasion consultations.
- The Order of 28 States
We would like to reiterate our rejection of the creation of 28 States as stated in our letter dated 4th October 2015. Mr. President, we are astounded that in spite of the overwhelming opposition to the 28 states from all the 63 tribes of South Sudan except most of your own Dinka tribe, you went ahead and imposed implementation of the 28 states against the will of the majority and ignored calls from other people of good will from across the world, including the IGAD-plus, African Union, and the UN Security Council, to halt implementation of the controversial states. We still maintain that the 28 states Order is against the spirit and letter of the peace Agreement which you signed and that it is divisive and ill-timed. Furthermore it lacked consultation, advance planning and the resources required for its effective implementation. We urge you to respect provision of the Agreement which leaves the issue of decentralisation or federalism to be tackled by the reconstituted transitional national Assembly. We urge you to gain the political courage to issue another decree to nullify the Order to create the 28 states and revert to the original 10 states, to pave the way for a speedy implementation of the Agreement.
- Land-grabbing in Equatoria
There has been a long standing misconception among the SPLA/M leadership from Bahar el Ghazal and Jonglei state that Equatoria is a promised land for the “liberators” of the country from the Arab North. We reject such malicious misrepresentation of historical facts. Equatorians not only led the liberation of South Sudan from 1955, (from which the incumbent President and late Garang personally benefitted), but actively participated and rescued the SPLM/A movement from collapsing in the wake of the 1991 split. We note with serious dismay intensification of activities by SPLA commanders against the people and land of Equatoria expressed through land-grabbing or forceful occupation of land which belong to individuals or communities for large scale settlements of Dinka from Bor and Bahar el Ghazal. These activities which initially started as occupation of strategic border towns of Nimule and Yei, has moved on to the occupation of Western Equatoria, and recently the outskirts of Juba. The intention to occupy the village of Vice President James Wani Igga, is the ultimate humiliation of the people of Equatoria and it will be resisted.
We urge against such tendencies and call upon the TGoNU to expedite repatriation of new as well as old internally displaced people back to the states of their origin.
This does not mean that Equatorians do not welcome other Southerners. We acknowledge that as long as the capital remains in Juba, people will be tempted to move to the city in search of better employment opportunities. What is unacceptable is military leaders, arming their relatives or clan members, to forcefully occupy and settle in Equatoria with their cattle.
In 2005, Equatorians accepted to temporary host the capital in Juba, while the permanent site in Ramciel, as identified by late Dr Garang, is being developed. This gesture of goodwill is now being abused. We are now asking the relocation of the capital away from Equatoria to be revisited.
- Militarisation of the Nation
In South Sudan, the military monopolise power and they regard themselves above the law. This goes back to the philosophy of Dr. John Garang that “the gun is your father and your mother and your source of livelihood”. Generations of South Sudanese boys and men have grown up with the mentality that the army and its associated forces are supreme. It is also unfortunate to mention that tribal competition has made South Sudan a country with the largest number of army generals per capita.
It is our expectation that the transitional government of national unity will fulfil its commitment to reduction of the overall size of the army, and associated organised forces; restructures the army to ensure that the national army is inclusive and represents people from across the country on proportional basis. Furthermore the national army must be fully trained to execute its duties and responsibilities in a professional manner and must fully respect the human rights and dignity of civilians. We demand for delinking of the SPLA from politics in South Sudan.
- Accountability for Kleptocracy, human abuses and war crimes
South Sudan is deemed a kleptocractic state, where there is a systematic and sustained looting of national resources by political and military elite since 2005. The economic mismanagement in the country has led to lack of development and service delivery, and subsequently the collapse of the economy. The government has evidently committed economic crimes against its own citizens and has avoided holding anyone to account despite glaring evidences. To demonstrate a sign of goodwill towards the long suffering people of South Sudan many of whom have perished due to treatable diseases, hunger, malnutrition, the transitional government of national unity should prosecute the perpetrators as a deterrent to future corruption.
Similarly, we urge the transitional government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar to implement the context of the Agreement to the letter in particular not to collude in obstructing holding to account those who might have contributed to committing the appalling atrocities, brutal war crimes and human rights violations as per the AU and UNSC report (2015).
We further call upon the Peace partners to speed up formation of the transitional justice mechanisms and the formation of the hybrid court to start holding people to account. In the past, war atrocities were not prosecuted. As a deterrent, we urge the peace partners and the international community especially IGAD plus not to let the ordinary citizens of South Sudan down but to bring our political and military leaders to account without fear or favour. It is only when justice is done and appears to have been done that there can be genuine and true peace and reconciliation.
Finally we urge you two leaders and Vice President James Wani Igga to usher in the spirit of peace, harmony and national reconciliation. The moral and social fabric of our society has been profoundly fractured. We request you to prioritise reconciliation and the spirit of nationalism as we give the country a second chance to build the nation of South Sudan.
Mr. Federico Awi Vuni
Chairman, Equatorian Community in the UK
Mr. William Orule
Chairperson, Equatoria Community & Welfare Association, NSW | AUSTRALIA
Mr. Kwaje M. Lasu, MPH, RCP.
President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-USA (ESSCA-USA)
Mr. Joseph Modi
President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-Canada (ESSCA- Canada)
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