By John Adoor Deng
May 16, 2014 - The recent unexpected conflict in South Sudan has surprised many foreign nations and organizations especially those that have played crucial roles in both, nursing and creating the world newest country. The expectations of these nations were that South Sudanese given their experience in protracted wars were to be the last group on earth to take part in any conflict at a distance let alone the war within itself. They thought that South Sudanese people were only yelling for developments, education and the civilization of the entire nation. However, we proved them wrong that we were not a very people they had expected. Internally, South Sudanese were not at all surprised by this outrageous conflict. The signs and symptoms of such explosion were indeed a visible fact at the very eye of South Sudanese in the country and in the diaspora. Figuratively, Dr Majak Agoot (2014) referred to this as boiling container of milk (known in Dinka as Ajop cui) when it has pressure inside it, and if such container’s top is not taken off, there is likelihood of bursting and explosion. This was what had occurred!! Not body was able to open the container’s top unfortunately.
These signs and symptoms of than emerging conflicts were daily felt; from speeches among parliamentarians, incited cattle raiding such as in Warrap and Jonglei states, political incited ethnic and clans conflicts such as in Lakes State, Twic East County, land grabbing such as in Juba and in other major cities, disappearance or murder of journalists and outspoken civil society activists such as late Isaiah Abraham and Deng Athuai who narrowly scape death, employment of civil servants based on their tribal alignment such as in many ministries in central government and states, and of course, the obnoxious uninterrupted corruption, etc. Interestingly, these unexpected levels of hatred that grew thick just within two years after independent precipitated what many analysts referred to as an ethnic war waged and spearhead by politicians and army generals. South Sudanese from all political spectrum and communities appeared to have not fully understood the facts behind having an independent state and what it entails. Many people (outsiders) are asking whether South Sudanese were emotionally, tribally and politically ready for an independence country or they each thought that South Sudan was to be their tribe owned state. Of course, each South Sudanese has the answers to these perhaps.
Optimistically, although we have lost thousands of our own brothers and sisters, uncles, mothers, grandfathers, etc, in this baseless and needless conflict, we can still in effect forgive each other’s prodigality and embrace oneness in the spirit of heavenly reconciliation. However, the process of reconciliation cannot be reach without a well calculated framework; otherwise we can end having what could be referred to as Archbishop Deng-MaJak Agoot and George Athor, Peace Initiative. For those who have might not have come across this phrase. Dr Majak and Archbishop Deng once offered in good faith with the blessing of President Kiir to reconcile Athor with the government, they reached out to late General Athor to convince him to rejoin the government. Surprisingly, while they were at the edge of finishing negotiation, these peace makers plus late George were targeted for an Assassination by men of evil, and Athor has to rush them (Archbishop Deng and Dr Majak’s delegation) to their plane before bullets were to be rains on them. And indeed attack was launch in General Athor’ hide out while the plane was taking of air.
In order not fall into the above scenario, the recent conflict must be solved amicably and truthfully within its right context. This brings me to my subject title which states that Rush to Federation Can Not Help South Sudan Grown Chronic Situation. In the media circles, especially from individuals and think tanks, suggestions are made on possible ways that the conflict in South Sudan could be best solved. For example, Equatorians are calling for Federalism (Clement Wani, 2014), also in recent media release of the SPLM-O led by Dr Machar, Presidential Federal system is echoed (March 14,204). Thus, in this paper and in the following paragraphs I will briefly unpack how this notion of the so-called Federalism cannot help, molds this conflict. Hence, in this context, it is important to understand what a federal system is and how it is in most cases install and applied.
Federalism is defined as a political concept in which a group of members is bound together by covenant (known in Latin as foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces). Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating what is often called a federation. Generally speaking, Federalism may encompass as few as two or three internal divisions, as is the case in Belgium or Bosnia and Herzegovina. In general, two extremes of federalism can be distinguished: at one extreme, a strong federal state is almost completely unitary, with few powers reserved for local governments; while, at the other extreme, the national government may be a federal state in the name only, being a confederation in actuality.
From this definition, one is convinced that South Sudan is not yet ready for federation and I have the following reasons to speculate. Firstly, South Sudanese does not have a collective bound of their own. They instead adhere to their tribal bounding. So there is the covenant within the tribal grouping then it would have on national identity. Thus if federation is enforced, there is likely going to be a country with people that have no commonality at the national level.
Secondly, South Sudan at present is not democratically instituted; all we have are a bunch of cut and paste rhetoric statements of democracy. For example, in the last elections, there were rumors of rigging and subsequent rebellions as a result. The formulation of the transitional constitution was basically exclusive of the civil population; it thus became the document of the few elites, serving their entire political interests. In this situation, you cannot install federalism on thorny ground.
Thirdly, South Sudan has grown in recent few years, knowing that excessive use of power by the executive (especially President, governors, commissioners), experimented on daily cruel decrees of un- evaluative changes, dismissal of civil servants and subordinate executives with no publicly specified reasons. If this culture of baseless misuse of power is not first abolished nationally, then the federation will spread such obnoxious culture to all units of governments respectively. In Canada, Australia, USA and European, it is to be argued that as the years went on and these countries became bigger nations with absolute democratic rules, the citizens of these countries through their representative requested a better way to govern them that was when federalism was chosen and install after thorough public consultations.
South Sudan in my view is not yet ready for Federalism and so frankly imported system of federation cannot help South Sudan from its grown chronic situation. Alternatively, I believe that the recent conflict that have engulfed our entire can and is solvable if the following are observed and implemented.
1- Immediate unreserved adherence to recently agreed Cessation of Hostilities (COH). This could be well achieved through the installation of aggressive monitoring Mechanism
2- Full acknowledgement of responsibilities attached to the massacres on both sides of the conflicts. This includes surrendering evils perpetrators to relevant authorities for persecution. Although, the dead will not be resurrected, this gesture shall demonstrate a degree of honesty and accountability.
3- Formation of a Technocrats Interim Government (TIG) charged to expedite: reconciliation and national healing, permanent people’s constitution, institutes good governance by restructuring institutions especially the national security and the entire organized forces. I agreed with Biar Ajak Deng Biar, that both Kiir and Machar plus their fanatics’ stooges must not take part in the interim government. However, they shall still be regarded as heroes who brought us freedom but failed their tasks on finishing- line.
4- Cooperate fully with world bodies requesting war crimes candidates and de-hostile neighboring countries who have for some reasons meddled themselves in the conflict of the South Sudanese people.
5- Reduce the current extravagant and huge level governments in the Country, some departments in central government as well as counties and state programs must be amalgamated to give rise to development and effective provision of Social services.
6- Establishment of multicultural Ministry or department to cater for various cultures activities as a way to foster unity in diversity and parade yearly cultural days in the nation.
7- Install anti-corruption commission as directorate within the ministry of Justice so that it has the tools and mandate to persecute vices in the country.
Finally, I believe that we are more than capable to resuscitate from the recent death and take our gloried place as a nation with in the world of nations. We cannot afford to be a laughing stock in Africa and around the world. By all indicators, rush to Federation cannot help South Sudan from it grown chronic situation.
The Author is John Adoor Deng, Director of South Sudan Support Foundation (SSSF). He is reachable at email@example.com