Contributor's Deng Vanang

Scaling the Heights of Peace as SSOA Meets IGAD

Changson Chang’s public statement on face to face meeting courtesy of Deng Vanang

June 15th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) — While jetting into Addis Ababa on Friday, the 15th of June, SSOA’s nine prominent leaders alongside the interim Chair, Hon. Gabriel Changson Chang, are pulling off all the stops on their way to meet readily awaiting IGAD’s mediating team.

The mission is to attend the Intensive and Inter-Linked Consultations, IIC under the auspices of the mediating party.

SSOA is the first group to show up before IGAD ahead of TGONU, SPLM/A-IO and other political entities, including FDs.

IIC aims to squeeze some gentleman’s compromises out of hardline positions previously put forward by various political blocs.

All with an aim to bridge the gaps and hopefully reach a peaceful settlement at last.

Hon. Gabriel Changson Chang, the interim leader of South Sudan Opposition Alliance(Photo: file/supplied/Nyamilepedia)
Hon. Gabriel Changson Chang, the interim leader of South Sudan Opposition Alliance(Photo: file/supplied/Nyamilepedia)

The upcoming series of consultations marks the crucial phase of High Level Revitalization Forum, HLRF which requires true statesmanship, but without compromising popular demands for democratic reforms pertaining to the good of the country than that of an individual.

With SOA extending hand of goodwill and it equally expects its competitors to reciprocate for the good of the long suffering nation.

Atop the SSOA’s pack, Changson Chang particularly emphasizes the need to isolate issues of conflict from individuals or groups involved in order to amicably turn them around.

That is by solving the problem, one shouldn’t see the person he is disagreeing with as the problem, but shared selfish pursuits which need to be either tamed or transformed into common cause for people to agree.

Example being, if there is corruption or failure to do things in the right way in the system which lead to peoples’ suffering; kindly see, understand and address them as isolated weaknesses away from individuals who may be harboring them. Since the very individuals embodying the weaknesses can as well be victims of their own actions without necessarily knowing it or admitting the quilt.

This fore mostly comes during negotiation when it is done as unconditional by saying yes to the demands of the one with whom you are negotiating, but without both of you giving in to each other.

Whereas, if the negotiation is to be conditional and has to succeed, there should be spirit of give and take or tradeoffs on both sides.

That is by giving up certain conditions in exchange for others your competitor in the negotiation has to give up in response to your concessions.

Another notable point in skillful negotiation is objectivity in laboring to address issues for common good without seeking to benefit oneself and disadvantage others.

Such an underlined trait is one of the most treasured values of the man who helped negotiate joint Juba declaration of General Paulino Matip’s led SSDF and SPLA in 2006.

And equally the same person President Salva Kiir used to entrust with non-existing ministries to build from scratch.

In addition to being appointed to failed Ministries so as to raise them from their burning ashes to become the lively and most attractive dockets other Ministers would later scramble over to head in case of an impending reshuffle.

Similarly, being his secret he divulged to one curious young man who happened to pop up into office and enquire from him while still a Minister in the government as to why he always succeeded in his most challenging ministerial postings where his predecessors failed.

He is also a true believer of political Philosopher John Locke’s maxim in prioritizing general interest which in turn protects the individual interest as the only way for group or community to bond together and forge ahead. Something that guarantees the stability of society, instead of self-preservation which leads to deterioration of social fabric and state paralysis.

A case which brings to his mine one incident while he was appointed in 2010 to Wildlife Services’ Ministry where he had difficulty convincing President Kiir about the need to employ more than 200 wildlife officers dismissed in Unity State by Governor Taban Deng.

Kiir had to get him right after a long and an elaborate justification of his recommendation. Especially when he told him of likely anarchy in Unity State if these officers could not be integrated into the mother Ministry.

Likely anarchy he opined was summarily purged officers taking up arms out of frustration one day against Taban’s mini-state.

A conflict which might spill over to the whole country, instead of getting confined to where it could start.

Such spirit of saving the common good while sacrificing the individual one must be replicated in the upcoming negotiations.

Since the country has been writhing in pain for far too long between the wielded hammer and ground dug anvil.

And in order to save it, something must give way.

That thing is people negotiating for themselves and against others.


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