By Amb. Dr. Francis G. Nazario
August 8,2014 - Seven month have already passed since this meaningless war erupted in South Sudan and we still don’t know when it is going to end. Who will benefit from it?
Definitely nobody in South Sudan will benefit from this senseless conflict. It has already inflicted untold devastation to the country. Thousands of lives lost, we are wondering how much lives should we still loose for it to stop, over one million people internally displaced, adding to all that hundreds of thousands of refugees already registered in the neighbouring countries. We are all once again alarmed by the recent development of issues in the country, and specifically in the previously known as peaceful states (the Three Equatoria states, Northern and Western Bahr el-Ghazal states, in addition to the continuous unrest in Lakes state). We are hearing every day that some SPLA Soldiers are deserting the fighting fronts in the greater Upper Nile in big numbers, and returning back to their home areas, from the other side we are also hearing more other disturbing news that some villagers are being mobilized, recruited and trained …Etc.
Rumours of more wars being prepared are entertained by the citizens in the tea places, cafes, and bars in Juba…, the looming hunger, the outbreak of cholera in several parts of the country, etc… Given this appalling situation we can only ask ourselves which way is the Republic of South Sudan?
The leadership of the country must face the reality of the situation of failure. The country is currently living in unsustainable political situation. We expect from the leadership of the government to be brave and without further delay start a serious diagnosis of the sickness of the state in order to be able to administer the Right remedies. We don’t need to be reminded that leadership is all about responsibility, being it success or shortcomings but also the readiness to accept the credits as well as the blames.
It is high time for those whom it may concern to show some sense of leadership and selfless behavior. South Sudan is already failing and you don’t need to be genius to conclude it. As citizens for South Sudan we don’t need to shy away from it. We have to swallow our pride and look forward as South Sudanese. Not as a Dinka, Nuer, Acholi, Bari, Zande, Shilluk or from whatever ethnic group that we all equally value etc……
The people of South Sudan, is currently witnessing disturbing situations that no one can be proud of. It is worth mentioning sometimes no salaries are paid to civil servants for the last two or three months. Civil servants are quietly deserting their work places and taking refuge in the neighboring countries. Our hospitals are now in more pathetic situation, (no medicines, absences of the minimum hygiene, no electricity, no clean water etc. Increasing insecurity all over the city, no one is feeling secure even the senior government officials who are all moving in the city centre with heavily armed
Bodyguards while increasing poverty level in Juba is overwhelming. We have all seen how the number of beggars and the practice has increased, all over the city, even around the ministries. Hunger is now noticeable in the streets of Juba and other towns as thousands of our citizens don’t have food.
Number of street children is increasing day and night in the capital. Juba streets are full of sex workers, local and foreigners —? No freedom of expression —? No freedom of assembly or holding public debates in Juba. People can’t go to their villages freely as they used to do, any movement out of Juba must get clearance from the security etc.
We can add to all that, the difficulties in the Peace talks in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
No progress made up to now. Our government is being protected by foreign forces, (Ugandans, UNMISS, and the IGAD forces are now arriving in the country. This raises the question of the state Responsibility to protect its citizens, the dire question of sovereignty, do we still have it? Are we not giving out our independence?
Honestly and as a citizen, I wonder how we can continue to say or even accept people saying that, “everything is fine in the country,” some even go further by saying “that
The government is still in control of everything!!!” And the President Kiir said in
Washington DC, the situation is exaggerated by media and magnified by the enemies of peace according to him and it doesn’t reflect the real situation on the ground.
Why should we continue to deceive ourselves and the whole world? Is it not worthy for the government to take its responsibility and put an end to the conflict, accept its failure and call for help, to rescue the dramatic situation, which is worsening every minute?
The hunger as I mentioned earlier is a living fact according to several UN reports, precisely it is around the corner. One would expect from the government to be
Exerting more efforts in the direction of this disaster management and seriously look for ways and means of how to reduce its effects. The government can boldly decide to stop the war and even announce in a unilateral manner a Cease fire. Instead, and unfortunately we are seeing serious armament and preparation for war, confirming the rumors that the government is still preparing and wants to fight its own people, kill its own sons and daughters.
The whole world is now aware that, there was and there have been continuously, serious misinformation and deliberate intentions to mislead everybody in order to execute some devil plans by some evil individuals in the government specifically around the leadership. It is something that can’t be hidden anymore. The unfortunate fiasco started from the fabrication of the fake story of the so called Coop d’état on December 15th2013. We all know that, there was nothing.
The whole world actually never believed the story of the Coup, even the witness who was brought to the court to testify against the political detainees said that there was nothing calls Coup which occurred on the 15th december2013. The Courts hearing and procedure was an embarrassment not only for the leadership but for the whole country, especially when the story of the Coup was rubbished by some senior security personnel and to avoid hearing the final court verdict which was going to be innocence of all the detainees.
The government decided to stay the procedure and release the detainees. Later on and in a different development President Museveni who seemed to believe in the beginning the story of the coup, surprisingly came out and acknowledged in front of all the head of states of the IGAD, during the last IGAD summit in Addis Ababa, that there was nothing call coup in Juba that triggered the fight. He added what happened was merely a misunderstanding among the Presidential Guard.
Of course we all know that, the misunderstanding came up because of disarmament plans of some guards, who happened to be all from Nuer ethnic group. It will be good for the history that a neutral international body is entrusted to find out what has exactly happened, the body has to be mandated to look for those who came up with the story of the Coup, for the sake of justice they must be held accountable for having fabricated a fake coup, and having tried to deceive the whole world by this story.
It is because of the so called attempted coup that there is now a civil war in South
Sudan. Suppose that the leadership of the country was correctly informed by the security personnel about what exactly occurred on December night, let’s imagine the message was as said, what was happening at the presidential guards that night was a simple and minor incident between few soldiers, which went out of hand but it is going to be contained at that level). I am quite sure and many readers will agree with me that we wouldn’t have heard any further shootings or killings out of the barracks. We would not have reached where we are now. But some wrong elements within the security personnel decided to come up with a different story and tried to deceive the whole world.
By saying “Da Inguilab bita jamaa bi ta Dr. Riek,” so those wrong elements jumped up and said arrogantly these “are the Nuers let’s go and give them a lesson!! That is why it went out of control. That it is how I am imagining things. It is clear that, the leadership has been throughout misinformed and misled by the security personnel and their fabricated reports. Some people around the leadership maliciously wanted to provoke the fighting having the evil idea to get rid of some other people, by fabricating a coup to justify the crime of the killing of innocent people. Thinking they were helping the President, and protecting his seat, (Kony beny attitude) doing all that to keep power in Bahr El Gazal, but in fact they were destroying the leadership of Salva Kiir Mayardit and adding to him more problems. The war has taken already a lot of innocent lives and destroyed our country. The mistrust among all of us citizen of South Sudan is ever growing. The social fabric is torn. We have to acknowledge that to move forward.
We have lost the support and respect of the international community. No doubt the government can’t survive for long. The leadership needs to rise above all the division and show leadership, make peace and reconcile with everybody and promise justice.
That is the only way forward and the sole issue. The current hot debate on the question of federalism no doubt is going to continue. It can’t be stopped by the intimidation of the people of Equatoria and other supporters of the system, but the leadership of the government rather needs to rise beyond their personnal preferences, and detach the whole issue of Federalism from what is so call KOKORA and its history. No doubt, no one in South Sudan wants to repeat any of the ills of the past, whether it is KOKORA or something else similar to it, but the citizens have the Right to choose freely the system of governance that they want to be governed with. The leadership needs to listen to the people and respond accordingly. By for example saying that a referendum will be organized at the appropriate time in the future for people to pronounce on what system they would like to be governed with but not by preventing people to talk.
A Leader must listen to his/her people and respond to them accordingly. Otherwise, this issue will lead to unnecessary confrontation in the Equatoria region and beyond. The current system has produced high level of inequality, marginalization of (rural Inhabitants, ethnic minorities and urban poor. The unitary system which South Sudan has experienced has concentrated power in the centre and enhances the ability of the ethno-regional groups that controls the central government to maximize their interest and values at the expenses of other citizens, especially those who are not politically well connected South Sudan is a large country with a population estimated at slightly over 12 million inhabitants with complex ethnic diversity. There are about 64 different ethnic groups of varying sizes currently residing the country that is making diversity management a particularly important task for the government. In addition to that how, effectively to deliver public goods and services in such varied and complex environment presents many challenges. To deal effectively with the immense human development obstacles that the new country faces, it must design and implement governance structures in which the civil servants and the political elites are accountable to both to the citizens and through the parliament and the constitution. Such governance structures must allow for broad participation of the citizens in social, political and economic affairs. South Sudan is for all South Sudanese. Let us work together to make it a better place to live in for our future generations.
The author is the former South Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org