Opinion: This is what should be done to peacefully disarm civilians in South Sudan

By Professor Simon Elhag Kulusika

Collected weapons at Freedom Square in the Lakes State capital Rumbek (Photo credit: supplied)

Collected weapons at Freedom Square in the Lakes State capital Rumbek (Photo credit: supplied)

August 13, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – Governor Makur Kulang of Lakes state and his counter-part, governor of Warrap state have embarked on disarmament.  But the way they have chosen to achieve the goals of removing illegal arms from people or communities will not work.  Governor Kulang claimed he had gone to the counties to enlighten communities on the need to disarm.  He did the enlightenment in three days. Is that sufficient to encourage people to hand off guns involuntary way?  I have serious doubt. It shows that the national and state governments have adopted the most ineffective and provocative strategies for removing illegal arms from the various communities across SS, not just in Warrap and Lakes states.

My simple suggestion calls for the following:

1. The formation of a national commission for the collection of illegal arms. There should be sub-commissions in all the capitals of states. These should have a broad range of mandates to collect and confiscate illegal arms from persons or groups of persons in cities, towns, rural areas including cattle camps.

2. Such an exercise should take place after a considerable period of campaigns to sensitize people of the importance of handing over illegal arms.

3. There should be incentives for people who would willingly hand over illegal arms.

4. These processes and actions should be backed up by legislation to prevent excessive use of force for purposes of disarmament. This legislation should also define the types of guns that must be confiscated with or without compensation and people involved.

5. There are communities in SS who have been carrying guns for centuries to protect themselves and their properties, such as farm produces, herds etc. It’s unthinkable to take away guns from these people and let them be exposed to dangers of attacks from other hostile groups.

6. This calls for care in deciding which guns should be taken from such people or communities. This will prevent violent resistance to the exercise of disarmament.

7. The commission should likewise propose the enactment of legislation prohibiting going armed in public or carrying offensive weapons in public because they create apprehension in the public that violence was immediately about to take place.

The disarmament exercise should aim to prevent crimes and violence; but not to expose communities to all sort of menaces. The most important part of this exercise is incentive to propel people to voluntarily hand in all types of gun. Threats, deadlines and use of force will not succeed, but will fuel resistance against all levels of governments. SS should take lessons from somewhere else where use of force to collect arms from communities traditionally have used guns had miserably failed. May the Lord of Heavens and Earth save the people of SS.

The author is a law professor at Zambia Open University. He can be reached via:  chibale_mellissa@yahoo.com


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