Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: South Sudan’s National Dialogue is a blind plan and premature

By Simon Geah

Nov 04, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — First of all, there is a need for trust and confidence-building before the country succumbs to national dialogue. It’s absolutely an important mechanism but wrongly scheduled and wrongly planned.

Members of the National Dialogue attending a conference in Juba, South Sudan(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)
Members of the National Dialogue attending a conference in Juba, South Sudan(Photo credit: courtesy image/Nyamilepedia)

Though it’s a good idea for South Sudan to go for national dialogue, it’s not the right time for the nation to start dialoguing at this particular time. There are several reasons why it’s not the right time for South Sudan to go for national Dialogue; first of all, peace has not been fully implemented. Second, all oppositions have to be brought on board for dialogue including those who are not signatories to the 2018 agreement. Third, all grassroots leaderships have to be consulted and sanitized about the importance of the national dialogue.

Overall, South Sudan should have defined the terms “national dialogue” before advocating for it, and identify whether it’s an inter-party dialogue or ordinary national dialogue, which could be fundamentally inclusive to all the citizens in the country. 

In  definition, the terms “national dialogue” refers to circumstances  where the nation comes together to dialogue in the search for what causes rift within it’s nation. In most cases, it’s intended to find the root causes and solutions of grievances that had prevailed during the rifts. If the grievances are within the political realms of the governance, then the dialogue should be inter-party dialogue. Otherwise, if the rifts were basically a national issue as a whole, then the dialogue must be a national one. As such, security guarantee is needed for people to participate freely in the national dialogue process.

National dialogue is supposed to be free and fair. Participants in the national dialogue are not supposed to be directed or influenced by external agents of interest. They are supposed to be open and free from fear of indifferences. All people participating in national dialogue are to be treated equally regardless of their political affiliations, ethnicities, or religious beliefs.

Before people go for national dialogue, the host leadership should have warned the participants and the supporters to avoid biased criticisms and accept truth and reality. In this case, once the truth is revealed, the nation should be able to find the solution for that fact irregardless of if it’s a negative fact or positive one.

However, as per the situation in South Sudan now, the need is not in the realm of national dialogue. National dialogue at this time is premature. People are longerhearding for the implementation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity which is not fully in place.

The government is not fully formed as required in the agreement. The National Legislative Assembly is not yet established. The state’s government is not fully finalized. Security arrangements are completely absent since the attempting implementation of the agreement. All these are crucial in the national dialogue process because they are central in enforcing laws where laws are being manipulated by outlaws elites during the national dialogue proceeding. 

 I hope they are not intending to exclude the States governments in the national dialogue process. If they do, then that is a completely incomplete gesture of the national healing process. State governments  are such an important stakeholders and central focus of the national dialogue because they are the ones with close contacts with the affected populations that need to be reconciled.

In conclusion, the ongoing national dialogue in South Sudan is premature and poorly planned. It’s not the right time for the nation to go on dialogue as the peace agreement is not fully implemented. The government should have been fully formed first in its all levels. Security arrangements should have been completed before the country went for national dialogue. More importantly, there should be trust and confidence-building between the parties and amongst the communities before the dialogue.

As a result, it’s absolutely right for the opposition groups to turn away from participating in it. It’s not a healthy gesture as there are no security guarantees in place to protect the participants. I am not against the national dialogue but I am against it’s timing, it’s plans, and strategies.

I’m hoping for an inclusive national dialogue to prevail with free and fair participations. A non- tribal dominated national dialogue process that everyone feels free to participate without fear and favor.

Many thanks to you all!

Simon is a concerned citizen of South Sudan and an Independent Political Analyst. He can be reached on: simon.geah@yahoo.com

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