OPINION: WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO HAVE PEACE RALLIES IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SIGNED REVITALIZED-ARCSS?

By Jesus Panther Deng,

South Sudan's President, Salva Kiir (R) shaking hand with First Vice President designate Dr. Riek Machar Teny (L)  in Addis Ababa after signing the revitalized agreement (File photo)

South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir (R) shaking hand with First Vice President designate Dr. Riek Machar Teny (L) in Addis Ababa after signing the revitalized agreement (File photo)

Sept 23, 2018(Nyamilepedia) — First of all, congratulation to the warring parties for bringing the conflict that has devastated the country, which have haunted and traumatized the civil population for many years partially to an end. Though the revitalized ARCISS is still doddering, though there are many uncalled for statements or threats that are being released by enemies of peace which obviously may stifle its implementation at the end, that are emerging from individuals, parties or groups, the venerable south Sudanese are still hoping that the signed revitalized peace agreement will still be the most honored peace agreement compares to the last peace deal which was signed in 2015 and cons pirated dishonored in July 2016.

I’m optimistic of an obscure peace deal because, the vanguards of the conflict are ever strongly willing to work together and also willing to respect their signatures. In most of the President Salva Kiir statements, apart from recent past uncalled for statement in which he personally become critics of his own signature  which almost emasculated the entire peace process and his refusal to handshake the SPLM-IO leader Dr Riek Machar during signing ceremony in Khartoum in front of all cameras when the masses who are hungry for peace and the entire world were watching, you find that he is more willing and confortable with terms of the agreement compare with his previous statements of 2015 peace deal which was full with reservations.

President Salva Kiir as a well-known instigator of so many wars, well-known despot of unknown powers and violator of so many agreements in the past willingly confirmed to the nation in his recent past remark. President personally admitted in his own words and I quoted him saying “The 2015 deal was forced on us, this is why when we signed the agreement I signed with 26 reservations and the agreement collapsed before us. This agreement I am sure will not collapse because the people of south Sudan have agreed to make peace by themselves” The same willing voices are being released by the SPLM-In Opposition leadership and other political parties to the agreement. All those willing voices and many positive statements being release in this process of peace agreement, you will conclude that peace is just around the corner if not at the door.

However, we should not be subjective and ludicrously over celebrate this revitalized ARCISS and procrastinate our daily effort for a just peace in the country because putting ink on the paper is not always a peace as we witnessed in the past many peace agreements to which these hypocrites were involved, either in previous Sudan or south Sudan that have been signed and dishonored before stipulated period come to an end. Example is recent past 2015 peace agreement.  

We should not rush into conclusion that there shall be implementation of peace agreement if the wounds,  grudges, hatred, ethnic antagonism that have infiltrated the nation at all levels are not resolved amicably immediately through knitting them in an inclusive meaningful peace rallies, if the political thorns at all routes connecting south Sudan’s towns and villages are not removed, if the confined IDPs at various protection sites across the country are not allowed to move freely at will and as well as refugees that are facing harassments from foreign authorities everyday are not facilitated back home.

Since independence to 2013, the SPLM leaders took sharp different positions regarding the best route to take the young nation to the next level democratically. This led to deep and bitter disagreement over the contentious issues by the members of the party and as thus lack of trust was built among top leadership which later triggered and culminated into worst conflict ever in the country history. The little unity among Communities was emasculated as they were used as shields to the leadership or fight on behave of politicians by the antagonists of existed unity for centuries. In December 2013, innocent Nuer civilians were massacred in Juba by security forces and those who affiliate Dr Riek Machar and others to Nuer community in the tribal-political context and with president not been prudent enough to stop such heinous crimes in his watched. In other towns such as Bor, Malakal, Nasir, Bentiu, Akobo heinous crimes were committed against Dinka nation and other nationalities as revenge base on activeness and their affiliation during the war.

Today if you go to either deep control areas of the parties and interview every single person you meet, you find that 90 percent of the interviewees are finger pointing at either sides of the conflict. In the internal displaced persons camps across the country or refugees’ camps in foreign countries, you get the same results of commoners blaming the either side of the conflict (particular tribe) as cause of the suffering base on their tribal or political affiliations simply because of circulated opportunistic false information that had been preached and planted in their heart by their politicians.

Now, we are living in a divided and dispirited nation where entire population is left with extreme detest, ethnic antagonism, grudges, where communities are isolated base on their affiliations in the conflict, where people are characterize base on their ethnicity in a political-tribal context, fear  and no longer in the spirit of one nation as it used to be. Without addressing these issues immediately and amicably, the nation will be haunted and will again come into a full circle of re-living the same divisive experiences the country underwent in 2013 and 2016 to date.

In my personal suggestion, public rallies are always initial contact between the commoners and their political leaders and I see it as the first aid to heal those wounds, stop the wailing of innocent people, detest, ethnic antagonism, revenge memories, dubious and traumatization among civil population and to pull the nation together and resurface its lost unity.

Secondly, millions of our total populations are still seeking refuge in all over the country bushes, in the swamp areas with obscure information about revitalized and signed peace agreement in Khartoum, Addis Ababa or Kampala. The nation orphanage’s population seeking refuge in the bushes is ambivalently about Revitalized peace and their returning homes. They are dubious about signed R-ARCISS with 2016 peace deal memories on many minds. Shall they not be massacred again? Is this a solemn peace? And so many questions? So how do you purge all these feelings? First, they need to be educated about peace and by educating them, its need physical delivery of the coordinated message by gun class in their front through public peace rallies. when the big fish (Kiir & Riek) and small fish and the rests moving together, smiling together and shaking hands and telling the same message called peace in front of their followers, the nation population hiding in the country bushes with no access to food, no access to medical care, no access to schools and those whose villages have been taken over by military or used as launching base or attacking point will automatically be freed and rescued. By doing that, the entire nation actual will be relief from these downcast and orphanage stage.

Third, thousands of south Sudanese are locked up in UNMISS as IDPs across the country and their rights to food, freedom, medical care, school have been compromised for over four years now. When war broke out in 2013, thousands of innocent civilians were mercilessly massacred by gun class and affiliates due to their political, tribal, regional and sectional affiliations, associations or even assumptions but few that escaped the planned ethnic cleansing or target killing, were thrust to UNMISS compound across the country and they are currently facing a lot of mayhem and youth belligerent within communities, and poor hygiene due to the same places for more than four years. In refugee’s camps in Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Central Africa republic, DRC Congo and Ethiopia, millions are facing the same situation. The recent crackdown on illegal immigrants by Kenyan authorities has really affected many refugees and even students.  These people need good medical care, schools, food, freedom, and they need to come back homes and they are thirst for the leadership that will show them the path to dignity, prosperity, security and tranquil environment for them and their children before they come out of such places.

Fourth, the honest coordinated peace rallies will automatically clear all roads, routes and bushes connecting south Sudan places from all current political thorns as all dissidents will get informed about R-ARCISS by the unity of rival leaders. The 2013 sins of individual’s politicians at the top caused by political disappointment were transferred as revenge to their tribal or regional belonging by political leaders that wanted to revenge or make themselves politically relevant to achieve their political ambitions and as thus, the elements of security forces plus the local population took the law into their hands to serve the interest of some politicians. As a result many innocent civilians were ambushed on the routes and inhumanely and indiscriminately killed between 2014- 2017 a long Juba-Nimule road, Juba-Bor, Juba-Kejikeji and many other places. People were targeted base on their ethnicities or political affiliation on the routes connecting many areas and as the result, the country which use to be a free moving environment is now a no go zone or no within movement as people are locked up in fear and routes that economically benefits to the nation are closed. Removing these thorns on the way, the nation actually will be liberated from fear, total economic collapse, and looming famine as many major economic routes which shall boost nation’s economy will immediately be open.

The parties should learn from 2016 mistake before any implementation of the agreement because signing the agreement and sit on it and without adhering to its terms, that agreement always remains in the paper. And exactly what happened in 2015 peace agreement. When the peace agreement was signed in 2015 in Addis Ababa, no either side of the signatures put interest in bring peace to the nation as the agreement was signed in difference locations with a lot of reservations, fighting mood or complaining faces and with parties putting ahead or preferring their reservations than what the signed and highly demand for peace by civil population.

On 28th April 2016 and also 4th may 2016 respectively, TgoNU was formed but the detractors continued resurfacing their reservations demand even after the signatures and formation of TgoNU and as well hate speech took over TgoNU. From April to July was enough time, should parties took the interest of peace and reached the civil population to preach it, we would have not been in this antagonistic stage by now.

As the hate speech intensified in Juba from the top leadership, political electioneering took over implementation, political contentious issues of the agreement started pulling the parties apart, ceasefire started being broken, elements of minority parties to the agreement were targeted, torture or killed, Juba being divided into faction’s sites and many check points established with the city. The results muted the implementation of that peace agreement and actually graduated to what we refer to as J1 Dogfight where many south Sudanese lost their precious lives in July 2016.

Could it not because of political interest, all these parties are experienced in many political agreements in the past in one way or the other. 2005 CPA is a good example to refer them because they were part and witness to its implementation. After the signing of peace agreement in Kenya between the Sudanese Government and the SPLM/A  and after swearing of Dr John Garang as first vice President of Sudan on July 9, 2005 , both President Omar Al-Bashir and Dr John Garang friendly shook hands in front of massive peace rally in Khartoum.

To preach the agreement, resurrect the hope, relief the entire Sudan from orphanage stage and to promote unity in the entire Sudan, SPLM alone was later forced to hold peace rallies in their control areas such as Yei, Mundri, and Tombura in equatoria region. Rumbek, Turalei, Malualkon, and Marialbai in Bhar el Ghazal. Bor north and Bor South in Upper Nile, western Nuba Mountain and Agok in Abyei.The parties can still copy past the style to resurrect the lost hope, relief the nation from orphanage stage, preach unity by holding peace rallies in Juba, Bor, Yei, Malakal, Bentiu, Wau, Akobo etc.

It happened recently in Kenya when 2017 presidential election almost put the country into total ash but when H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta and H.E Raila Odinga heartedly sensed of possible violence in their country and they took a leadership step by putting aside their political differences and by shaking hands in front of all cameras to cease the looming political tension among citizens of that country. The famous handshakes resulted into the formation of ‘Building Bridges initiative’ which they are using now as tool of urging every Kenyan, every political leader and formation to compete without using ethnic profiling or by promoting disdain for any group. Kenya is now one of the most peaceful countries to live in the entire world and this is where our political leadership should copy from for the signed revitalized peace agreement to work.

Finally, President Salva Kiir, SPLM-IO leader Dr Riek Machar, SPLM leaders (Former Detainees), the other parties and the rest who symbolized the current political instability, the polymaths and as most influential individuals, parties, or groups in their respective camps, can strive to break this robe that has knitted the parties  to divisive political competitions and ethnic antagonism and profiling that have widen the gaps among political leaders and south Sudanese communities through holding inclusive internal backup political dialogue and peace rallies in every either control areas, in every town, in every village preaching the same coordinated unity massages in order to arrest the current fear,  instability and let people return homes and to allow all routes to be open for economic benefit of the nation while the implementation of the agreement is ongoing.

With that, the ethno-polarization of issues, the personalization of political disagreements, the regionalization, intertribal politics or sectionalizing of political disagreement that resulted into target inhumane indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent lives since 2013, the disdain or detest, ethnic antagonism, among communities may come to an end and we shall be having a smooth implementation of peace agreement and a united prosperous south Sudan at all levels will resurrect at the end.

The author is a south Sudanese independent right activist, analyst and freelancer. He can be reach via email: pandeng2005@gmail.com