Special

Feature: Africa's first World Cup: A test of endurance and a celebration of the immortal hope of South Africa

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"The successful hosting of the 2010 World Cup is a great cause for pride for the continent. It is a validation, barring any unforeseen accidents, that we are about to rise above the usual black hole of stereotyping that has soiled Africa since time immemorial," writes NSV's Joseph Deng Garang.

(Omaha, Nebraska NSV) - On the eve of the World Cup finals, I wrote on my Facebook page about how people would be feeling all the blues after the final whistle, fretting over what to watch after a month-long fixation on sports channels that showcased the best of nations and their talents in the game of football.

I also suggested how we should instead help celebrate South Africa and the entire continent of Africa for pulling off what naysayers said couldn't be done. Those celebrations are in the works, but before I indulge too much in the delight of the after parties of the 2010 World Cup, a little historical perspective would be in order.

In May 2004 South Africa won the bidding to host the FIFA World Cup games of 2010. But even after that acceptance, the road to the first ever Africa's World Cup was not rosy. It was rocky. Just months after the announcement, uncertainty and doubts crept in.

First it was the question of planning, and organization; then it was on whether there would be sound budget and whether tickets would sell well; finally it was on the overall readiness, the infrastructure and the state of security. But in all of those cases, the leadership and the people of South Africa delivered.

They defied the usual stereotypes that have characterized how certain quarters of the world have always viewed Africa.

And so it was on June 11, 2010, after the whole world had waited with bated breath, the generous people of South Africa opened and treated the world to a month-long, colorful celebration of "the most-watched sporting event on earth."  So it was on July 11 when the last whistle sounded and the last sounds of vuvuzela were poured, the European nation of Spain took home the biggest Prize.

It is true history and hope-filled events sometimes do come together to help nations shape their sense of direction and that is precisely what has just happened to  the people of Africa who are still wallowing in the glory of their first successful World Cup games.

The successful hosting of the 2010 World Cup is a great cause for pride for the continent. It is a validation, barring any unforeseen accidents, that we are about to rise above the usual black hole of stereotyping that has soiled Africa since time immemorial.

In classroom across Africa, students have read in history books about the system of apartheid in South Africa, the killing of the vocal student leader Steve Biko, the detention of the legendary Nelson Mandela and his release to head and heal a nation.

But a decade and half after the death of apartheid, that brutal past has not dampened the spirit of a people to come together as one community of mosaic.

Roger Cohen, a columnist for The New York Times who grew up in South Africa during the earliest and darkest years of apartheid, said:  "I do know the naysayers overlooked something invisible, race-blind South African spirit. I also know we’re much better at covering conflict than community, and borders than their banishment on Facebook."

Mr. Cohen added, “This particular World Cup is political. It is an affirmation of a nation’s miraculous (if incomplete) healing, of African dignity, and of a continent that deserves better than those tired images of violence and disease."

The apartheid, as Cohen said in the same article, "was about denial — of skills to blacks, of mobility to blacks, of a living wage to blacks, of the very humanity of blacks."

This World Cup had so many faces for everyone in Africa: the young, not so young, old and all in between.

This World Cup will live in the iconic pages of Jessica Hilltout, a nomadic, Belgian-born photographer who took it upon herself to document pictures---the immortal objects made by  small children across Africa who were jovial in anticipation of the World Cup: "the homemade balls fashioned by children from plastic bags, old socks and rags, tied up with string or strips of tree bark. These ingenious, improvised balls bounce like real ones for a few days before the air escapes," wrote The New York Times.

"Gleeful little boys in Burkina Faso leap in exultation as their team scores. A young fisherman goes airborne as he hits a header on a beach in Togo. Barefoot boys in Ghana lope gracefully across a field as their slender, elongated shadows chase them."

Over the years, the world was calling our bluffs and now the naysayers stand corrected, because of what we have achieved.

So to the African nation of Ghana, although the Black Stars lost, you showed the world how to lose gracefully.

And to the great people of South Africa, thank you from a grateful continent and its proudest souls.

Go ahead and win the second bidding to host the Olympics in 2020, and we will officially be off to launching the African Century. I can see it. Africa's future is dawning!

*Joseph Deng Garang is the President of The New Sudan Vision. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Is SPLM's Northern Sector marginalized? (Part 2)

 

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Seen here in April during the elections is the former SPLM presidential candidate and SPLM Northern Sector deputy secretary general, Mr. Yasir Arman. Photograph: Abd Raouf/AP

"There is an intention in the minds of the current SPLM leadership to weaken the institutional representation of northerners, and simultaneously minimize their contribution to the dialogue on crucial issues and critical challenges facing the Movement, particularly in relation to the question of self-determination and the equation of unity and separation," writes Dr. Elwathig Kameir, himself a member of the SPLM, in this second installment of "Is SPLM's Northern Sector marginalized?" series.

 

(Kuwait City) - The SPLM grassroots and supporters of the country’s unity among northerners (ethnically and geographically) and southerners harbor many questions searching for answers, and find themselves helpless, and feel embarrassed in responding to the endless queries of both friends and foes about the position of the Movement on issues of unity and separation, self determination and the referendum. These followers have, therefore, become mostly skeptical and suspicious, if not overwhelmingly convinced, that some of the Movement’s leaders are intent on pulling the south towards secession, and devising measures for that end behind their backs and outside the framework of the SPLM constitutional institutions, without a shred of political or moral deterrent! Perhaps, the non-convocation of the Nantional Liberation Council (NLC), for more than two years following the adjournment of the National Convention in May 2008, a body which represents the Movement’s parliament entrusted with approving its strategies, programs, and policies, stands to clearly vindicate the separatist trend amongst the SPLM leaders. (Ironically, some of these leaders justify and attribute their secessionist leanings to the failure of the NCP in rendering unity “attractive”, as if the Movement from the outset did not suspect the hidden agenda and separatist intentions of their partner! Therefore, did that suspicion alone change the course of unity the SPLM was charting? If so, why now and not earlier? What made things worse and consolidated the concerns and misgivings of the “northerners” in the SPLM is the nature of their representation in the Movement’s leadership and the executive branch, particularly in the federal government. In June 2008, immediately following the National Convention, I wrote an exhaustive memorandum to the leadership in which I explicitly stated all these concerns, without receiving any response or feedback to-date!

 

Northern Sector: Meaningful representation or a theatrical drama?

 

The definition of the Northern Sector of the SPLM is not synonymous with the geographical concept of northern Sudan, as the sector embraces the 13 states of the north, with the exception of the Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Abyei, which organizationally form part of the Southern Sector. The sector, or northerners, are represented by the ratio of 1 to 2, i.e. the equivalent of one third, in the National Convention, the supreme political body of the organization. They are equally represented with the same percentage in the NLC, however, without applying the same ratio in the composition of the Political Bureau (the leading executive organ), as they are represented by 4 members only out of a total of 27. It seems that the only plausible explanation for this paradox is the northerners’ lack of a fighting base in the ranks of the SPLA or “liberated” areas, as their comrades in the Nuba Mountains and the Ingessna, which would qualify them to assume leadership positions, notwithstanding the claim that the Movement has transformed itself from a military entity to a political party. While understanding the underlying logic of such a rationale, however, applying the same formula for northern membership in the Political Bureau, in the spirit of equitable representation of all components in all the institutions of the SPLM, would have given a strong message of inclusion, cohesion, and a reflection of unity of the Movement.

 

However, it clearly transpires from close scrutiny of the matter that there is an intention in the minds of the current SPLM leadership to weaken the institutional representation of northerners, and simultaneously minimize their contribution to the dialogue on crucial issues and critical challenges facing the Movement, particularly in relation to the question of self-determination and the equation of unity and separation. Thus, there was a proposal to further divide the Northern Sector into four sub-sectors (north, centre, east, and west) during the discussions of the Movement’s Interim National Council of the Draft Constitution before its submission to the National Convention. The proposal was rejected twice in a row by the majority of the Council’s membership for it contradicts, albeit indirectly, and runs contrary to the spirit of the SPLM Constitution, as Article I.2.2 unambiguously defines the SPLM as a political party in terms of two sectors only; the Northern Sector and the Southern Sector. The Constitution does not make the slightest reference to regions within the sector, and offers no definition, or even mere guidelines, for determining such regions. Therefore, basing representation on unclearly defined regions, and with overlapping constituencies, is yet another way of sowing divisions within the Northern sector (and this is what eventually transpired), the latter being the underlying reason for refusing to endorse the proposal. Even if we assume the relevance of the principle of representing regions within the north, for reasons of fairness, we should agree first on a) the objective criteria for this representation and for the determination of regions eligible for representation, and b) the requisite leadership qualities and contribution to the SPLM, before embarking on putting names forward. We cannot put the cart before the horse. Room should have been given for wider consultation to reach a consensus on these critical issues. Thus, what is the value-added of such representation if the representatives themselves lack the capacity and the required skills?

 

It is true that realities, as in the case of Southern Sudan, dictate representation and balancing along tribal and ethnic or regional lines. This representation, however, should by no means compromise the objectives, competence, performance, and outcome of the SPLM, especially at the level of the top leadership. Thus, the SPLM leaders have always demonstrated varying degrees of leadership qualities, while representing their respective ethnic communities (though the fairness of this representation is in question by many). What is important to underline here is that all those leaders acquired their leadership positions, not because of their tribal affiliations, but in recognition of their leadership capabilities and sacrifice during the armed struggle phase in the evolution of the Movement. Above all, it is the demonstrated qualities of the member and commitment to the ideals of the Movement for a sufficiently long time span that qualifies a person for promotion to leadership positions. The principal criterion for ascendance to leadership positions, therefore, is not the ethnic group or geographical area one comes from, but in essence it is the longstanding commitment and outstanding contribution to the SPLM that count in the final analysis. Otherwise, why not divide the Southern Sector into regions or ethnic groups and then ask the respective defined constituencies to name their nominees to, or representatives in the Political Bureau, as typically followed in the case of the Northern Sector? Therefore, why is the prejudice against northerners and the North Sector carried out by resorting to double standards?

 

By the same token one would expect the same logic and criterion of selection to apply for the leaders coming from the North. The SPLM is not short of veterans who contributed to the development of the SPLM, especially politically, both during the armed struggle and in the post CPA phase, and who are acceptable to a large sector of the society in the North. There is no reason for preventing the appointment of Northerners to the Political Bureau except for seniority and rank in the army, which reflects the dominance of a "military mentality", this despite the transformation of the movement into a political organization!  Therefore, why the haste in appointing newly groomed leaders from the North, whose signatures on the SPLM membership’s application form is still wet! Is this meant to be a window-dressing exercise, with symbolic and ineffectual representation of the North? One really wonders if this is a benign gesture or indicative of sinister design! The grassroots of the Movement in the North are united in their commitment to the SPLM and the Vision of the New Sudan. This is what essentially prompted them to join the SPLM. Why do we divide them along unclearly defined regional bases and for an equally ambiguously articulated objective, while the Sector is still under structuring and without regard for their abilities and leadership qualities? Thus, my conversations and discussions with comrades during the Convention conveyed a strong feeling that an onslaught has been mounted on the Northern sector. Most of the delegates from the North believe that the attempt at weakening the Northern sector had actually started with the process of excluding the SPLM cadres in the Sector who have been with the SPLM since the phase of armed struggle, by adopting the state as the Electoral College.

 

*Dr. Elwathig Kameir is a member of the SPLM National Liberation Council. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Analysis - Jericho March around walls of injustices in Sudan

(Omaha, Nebraska, USA) - It is not always every time that discussions about New Year matter as they are this year. But when they do, those discussions tend to improve the odds for many.

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President Salva Kiir (in vehicle in hat) marching with the crowd to submit his nomination papers for president of South Sudan last month in Juba (Photo courtesy of SPLMToday.com)

To me, the fuss goes a little something like this. Two thousand and ten is no ordinary year for the world. Put bluntly, it is the year the rest of the world is reloading to usher in the second decade of the 21st century. For Africa, it is a major turning point since  it is the year the World Cup will be played on the continent  for the first time and who knows, if we shine during the games’ hosting  in South Africa the world may cede  it as the African Century.

But even so, this year and the next are very pivotal for some. The clock is ticking a little faster on the future of the African nation of Sudan. We have reached the eleven-month warning for the two referenda in Sudan. For the last half of a decade we the Sudanese were indulged in what was certainly a banality to implement the comprehensive peace in our country.

For ethnic killings in Darfur and deaths of over 2.5 million during the north-south civil war, Sudan has earned its justifiable place on the arc of history in terms of genocide: Armenia, Jewish Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Bosnia are already on the books.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement has over the years held up the mirror to decades of monumental injustices in Sudan and, with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement expected to expire in 2011, it is needless to remind ourselves that the window is closing and it is closing fast!

Although the SPLM, looking back on 2009, did show some spine by thankfully becoming itself again, after closing the year with some victory in key laws on the referenda for Abyei and Southern Sudan, including the agreement on the Popular Consultation in Southern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains, too much uncertainty still exists. The remaining laws on border demarcation are in no measure small to be ignored given how crucial they are for the fate of both Referenda.

Some in the international community are rightly warning of the CPA nearing a fault line. We in the South are caught wondering whether we should focus on bucking stereotypes that are ongoing or win the fight that is impending.  First it was Egypt declaring South Sudan a failed state, even before the agreement affords this poor region a chance at nationhood. Then the same declaration was picked up by foreign actors—individuals, nations and think tanks—who exploited it for some good and selfish reasons.

Perhaps for Southern Sudanese and all the marginalized people of Sudan, the Biblical themes of the March around Jericho need to be summoned during this eleventh hour when the search for freedom enshrined in the CPA continues to be met with cascades of sabotage and ringing opposition from the purveyors of the National Islamic Front aka the National Congress party.

Biblical scholarship tells us that in the late Bronze Age when the Israelites were closer to their freedom, they were faced with greatest uncertainties as obstacles multiplied in their hour of need—their fears almost took toll on the final journey as they saw fortified walls of the city of Jericho, and their leader, Joshua, wondered how they would enter the Promised Land. But God first tested the character, faith, trust, courage and obedience of His people by ordering them to march in silence around Jericho for 6 days and 7 times on the 7th day. After show of faith and obedience through what was an embarrassing and tiresome march, the greatest walls of Jericho came tumbling down, allowing the triumphant entry into Canaan by the people of Israel.

The Bible remains the Greatest and most enduring book of all time which has guided suffering people  in moments of despair and celebrations; it offers encouragement and we are told Moses who led  the Jewish people out of bondage used his charismatic ,assertive leadership qualities and courage to explain to his people that freedom and laws were inseparably linked. In the history of revolutionary politics few societies have echoed and dared to walk in Moses’ shoes amid own tribulations.

In their decades of untold suffering, the marginalized people of Sudan have shown great resolve by sticking with their movement and I know they saw in their leader John Garang the same leadership qualities that Moses had –of faith, courage and ability to inspire --and even during his untimely passing in 2005, the wailing masses did not lose hope because they intoned that their Joshua Salva kiir would take them home. Those were shades of people triumphing over despair.

Despite the uncertainty before us now, people should have reasons to hope by turning to their own inner selves and start believing in ourselves like Israelites did in their final hour of need, and at this journey’s end, we will realize that what we have been doing all a long is a walk around walls of injustices---the monument to peace walks should start in the run up to April elections and end with the final walks on January 2011 when we march to the polls.

Owing to heritage of faith and resolve, the marginalized can plan the 21st century Jericho March around walls of injustices in Sudan by putting to use all modern communication devices: cell phones, media, and Diaspora outreach to drum up support for the elections in April 2010 and step up the March leading up to January 2011.

The lesson here is it is times like these when people are tested and I believe if we don’t allow our belief to be shaken, if we do not allow ourselves to be distracted by forces antithetical to our destiny, we can be certain of triumphs over tyranny and uncertainty and guarantee freedom for the people of southern Sudan and all the marginalized communities.

*This article is one of series primer on Presidential Elections that NSV will continue to run till APRIL. The author can be reached at . This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Is SPLM’s Northern Sector marginalized? (I)

In this first part of a larger series, Dr. Elwathig Kameir asks whether the SPLM's northern sector is being genuinely represented or represented on a token basis?

(Kuwait City) - During the past three years, I wrote a series of articles that dwelt on the vision of the New Sudan and the call of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) for building the Sudanese citizenship state, and the Movement’s strategies for translating this “theoretical” concept into reality whether at the federal, or regional level in southern Sudan. The conclusion reached in these contributions was that the actual political practice of the SPLM following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), particularly after the departure of its historical leader in late July 2005, carried many indicators of the Movement’s observed retreat from the vision it had been preaching for more than two decades. Furthermore, it has abandoned the struggle for achieving the ultimate objective

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Seen here in April during the elections is the former SPLM presidential candidate and deputy of the SPLM Northern Sector, Mr. Yasir Arman. Photograph: Abd Raouf/AP

of realizing the country’s unity on new bases preferring separation and the establishment of an independent state in the South. I also underlined in these writings the disillusionment of the northern members of the SPLM, and all its supporters in the north, who had pinned their hopes on the Movement to lead the process of the long-awaited change by moving forward the post-CPA situation (dubbed by the late SPLM Chairman as the “minimum New Sudan”) for achieving voluntary unity. In a nutshell, it seems as if the SPLM has substituted or replaced the Vision with the CPA and its literal implementation, thus withdrawing into a cocoon, waiting for secession of the South, instead of taking it as a drawing board, which in reality is all that it is, in achieving its declared objective of achieving the Sudanese citizenship state! Indeed, the CPA incorporates several aspects of the New Sudan Vision. Although it is essentially a political compromise between the SPLM and the National Congress Party (NCP), the CPA provides us with the required framework for the continued pursuit of the objective of the New Sudan through purely political means as opposed to the pre-CPA combination of political and military methods. Thus, the leadership of the Movement is obliged, both politically and morally, to subject the issue of reconciling the objectives of self-determination and New Sudan (unity on new bases) to serious dialogue and open discussion inside its institutions due to a mixed blend of objective and subjective factors (The Imperatives of Internal Dialogue: The SPLM and Returning to the Drawing Board. New Sudan Vision, 22 December 2009).

This brief presentation addresses the institutional and organizational dimensions of the SPLM, in particular the status of the “Northern Sector” in the SPLM’s organizational structure, and the representation of northerners in the Movement’s leadership, as well as in the executive branch of the government, which further testifies to this leadership’s unwavering intention of establishing the independent state of the South. What prompted me to dwell on this subject is the news of anger, confusion, and resentment, among the SPLM leaders in the Northern Sector following the NCP’s rejection of the SPLM candidate from the Sector for the position of State Minister at the Ministry of Labor (Al-ahdath News Paper, 16 June 2010). At that moment, I realized that these leaders apparently did not notice or scrutinize the clear writings on the wall since the convening of the SPLM Second National Convention in May 2008. What they failed to see is that northerners, in the eyes of the Movement’s leadership, did not effectively participate in the armed struggle phase of the liberation process, except for a few who joined the SPLA/M on individual basis, a precondition for acquiring advanced positions in the leading organs of the Movement or in the executive branch. Thus, had it not been for the engagement of the grassroots in the Nuba Mountains and the Ingessana in the armed struggle, leaders from these two regions would not have been represented in the Movement’s leadership and the executive, or supported by the leadership of the SPLM to achieve the right to “Popular Consultation”, the minimum level in the ceiling of their expectations! The general elections amounted to a golden opportunity for the leaders of the Northern Sector to secure a comfortable win in the general elections, thus both impose their presence in the leadership of the SPLM and ensure a number of seats in the legislative and executive organs of the state. However, they squandered this valuable opportunity by boycotting the elections (for actually deeper reasons than what is publicly disclosed,  representing merely the tip of the iceberg, meanwhile the real motives have remained trapped in the chests of the Sector’s leaders), therefore they found themselves outside the game occupying the role of spectators rather than active players. Indeed, they neither took up arms nor gathered votes!

Second SPLM National Convention: A lost opportunity for transformation!

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the signing of the CPA as far as the organizational and institutional aspects of the SPLM are concerned. Most importantly, the SPLM has gained large numbers of members and supporters in the various states of Northern Sudan, including in Darfur. These are supporters whose minds and hearts have become captivated by the New Sudan Vision. The unprecedented reception of the late leader (Dr. John  Garang) on 8th July 2005 is the best witness for this surge in favor of the SPLM. Meanwhile, the SPLM ventured into developing its organizational and institutional structures in the process of its transformation from a military and regional movement into a national political entity in the context of the transition from war to peace. The holding of the Second National Convention in May 2008, fourteen years after the first one, left the doors wide open for the participation of SPLM members from all the states in the north, the Northern Sector being represented by one third of the convention's members totaling over one thousand five hundred.

The Convention presented a long awaited opportunity to which the movement's grassroots, especially supporters of unity whether northerners or southerners, aspired  in order to participate in a serious and transparent dialogue on the critical issues related to the evolution of the movement and its transition from a military-based organization into a political party that can lead economic, social and cultural transformation, and achieve the country's unity on a new basis, all this in the shadow of a general discomfort due to the ambiguity in the position of the leaders of the movement regarding the unity of the country.

The ultimate objective (and expected outcome) of the 2nd National Convention was to achieve a strong, united and rejuvenated SPLM with a clear vision, that set the correct path/direction, and that articulated the necessary program and policies necessary for the realization of the vision. In a nutshell, a Movement that is capable of competing in and winning the forthcoming elections. These were the issues that constituted the main tasks and challenges facing the Movement during the interim period, which should have topped the working agenda of the Convention.

Contrary to expectations, however, the agenda of the Convention and its outcomes proved disappointing. The Convention was successful in settling the internal power struggle in an amicable and democratic fashion and was able to preserve the Movement's unity and consolidate its leadership, in addition to endorsing the constitution. However, notwithstanding the consensus on the vision of the New Sudan and though the Manifesto was passed by acclamation, the vision was not translated into strategies, or detailed programs and policies, that could guide daily political activity and on which the Movement’s electoral manifesto or program could be based.  Until the writing of the present paper, none of these documents has been circulated for discussion and dialogue, nor has the National Liberation Council (NLC) been convened to approve them.

On the other hand, developing appealing programs and policies will be a futile exercise without paying equal attention to “organizational renewal” in terms of strengthening SPLM structures and institutions corresponding to the new post-CPA political realities. Building a robust organizational structure for the SPLM at the national level, therefore, is an imperative in order to address the profound challenges that the Movement is facing. Yet, this is an added failure of the National Convention, which has not attracted due attention even after the adjournment of the Convention. Thus, maintaining the sectoral organizational structure (the Northern Sector and Southern Sector), in light of the observed shortcomings and inadequacies, especially problems of coordination, definition of terms of reference for each sector, and relations with the newly established National Secretariat, including the skewed representation of the Northern Sector in the leadership structure, deserves immediate attention and resolution thereon.

Even after the passage of more than two years since the holding of the Second National Convention, the main feature of the Movement’s political practice lies in the absence of institutional decision-making processes, even going as far as violating the constitution, which was approved by the Convention itself, as if the document is nothing but a mere reference for power structure at the expense of substantive issues, organizational renewal, and the challenges of transformation. Perhaps the appointment of the SPLM Secretary General and his deputy for the Southern Sector as ministers in the regional government, in blatant violation of Article (4), Chapter IX, of the Movement’s Constitution stands as testimony to the supremacy of the executive branch (the Article explicitly states “the Secretary General, Deputies to the Secretary General, National Secretaries and all Secretaries of other levels shall be full time officers of the SPLM”). Thus, the Secretary General had to resign from his position, as minister for Cabinet Affairs in the Government of National Unity, when he was appointed to lead the Movement’s National Secretariat. However, it is obvious that the clout and influence of the SPLM as a political organization has started to wane in the context of the transformation of the SPLM from a liberation movement to a ruling political party. This development has, in turn, led the SPLM leaders and cadres to renounce organizational work in preference for “migration” to seats in government and the executive, positions which essentially hold the keys to power and wealth!

*Dr. Elwathig Kameir is a member of the SPLM National Liberation Council. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

South Sudan’s deadly ethnic violence II

 

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A victim of  tribal violence, Nyachoat Chuol, 10, at the health clinic’s ward in Nasir. Ethnic violence in south Sudan has killed hundreds in recent months. Photo/REUTERS

 

(Alberta, Canada)- Some more violent massacres in South Sudan have been reported by the media since I wrote part one of this article.

Last weekend’s attack on Jonglei’s Twi County claimed about 43 innocent lives and inflicted suffering on the wounded. Earlier, several children were brutally massacred in Bor County by armed men suspected to be from Central Equatoria State.

Today on September 5, SPLA spokesman Major General Kuol Deim Kuol told the media that about 25 people have been killed and others have been wounded in Upper State. This latest violence involved Shilluk and the Dinka. The overall South Sudan death toll now stands at more than 2200 people up from about 2000 just less than two weeks ago.

 

I had promised to write this part two to look at solutions to this vicious cycle of violence.  Several people have put forward various solutions including complete disarmament of the civilian population. [Partial] disarmament has been tried on a number of occasions but it did not help solve the problem. Some reconciliation and peace conferences between specific warring communities have been tried but they did not help either.

Why? The root causes of the conflict might have not been addressed. People can be disarmed today and tomorrow they can obtain guns and use them to kill if the reasons they want to kill people have not been properly addressed. The reconciliation and peace conferences might have not addressed the root causes of the problem. There is a need for South Sudan to develop a comprehensive strategy that provides an immediate halt to the violence and long term solutions which ensure a durable security. This article tries to provide some modest suggestions that can help build that strategy.

Immediate mechanism to halt future killings

The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) in collaboration with the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) should put in place an immediate mechanism to stop future killings. This mechanism should be in the form of strong and well equipped SPLA and UNMIS forces to be deployed immediately on a long term basis in the affected areas to protect civilians.

First, the forces should be mandated to conduct regular patrols on the ground and in the air in the far flung and most vulnerable areas of the region to detect any imminent attacks. Secondly, they should be authorized to shoot to kill the imminent attackers as a defensive and preventive measure. Thirdly, they should also be allowed to engage the warring communities in peace building and development activities as an incentive and a trust building means. Fourthly, there should be a vigorous networking effort among grass root authorities like traditional leaders and local government officers. Fifthly, the communities should be provided with information facilities like radios and satellite phones in order to inform the forces whenever there is any sign of attack.

Comprehensive peace and reconciliation strategy which is inclusive, sustainable and which addresses the root causes of the conflict.

First, comprehensive peace and reconciliation conferences between the warring communities across South Sudan should be convened soon. The conferences should diagnose the root causes of the conflict between the communities and should lay down conditions and measures acceptable on both sides. Both sides should be given an opportunity to express their grievances. No stone must be left untouched regarding old wounds. The conferences should allow the communities to engage in a thorough and comprehensive dialogue that builds trust; understanding and durable peace. There should be a mechanism in place for the return of looted livestock and abducted women and children.

Guarantees for a durable peace

There should be guarantees to safeguard peace among communities once it is signed. The guarantees should include a legal framework that provides accountability through strong governance institutions, monitoring and follow-up and economic incentives to the communities.

The legal framework should provide for ratification of the peace and reconciliation agreements into law by the South Sudan Parliament. This means that the peace violation by any group from any of the warring communities should be severely punishable by a competent court of law. The legal framework should make the traditional leaders cooperate with concerned authorities to report any of their members or group who may violate the terms of the agreement. The traditional leaders should also be made to report any plan by their members to attack other communities. They should be made to disclose the whereabouts of the suspects and cooperate in the arrest process. There should be a law in place to punish local leaders who do not cooperate with the law enforcement authorities.

There should be an inclusive independent implementation committee. This committee should be charged with the implementation of the terms of the agreement and should be mandated to exist on a long term basis to conduct regular monitoring and follow-up on how the communities are adhering to the terms of the agreement. The monitoring and follow-up should include an annual assessment conference that involves all the communities. The committee should be empowered to provide economic incentives to the communities.

The SPLA and UNMIS forces should continue to be deployed on the ground to monitor peace between the communities while competent South Sudan Police forces should be deployed to enforce law and order.

Region wide comprehensive disarmament strategy which is legally inspired, sustainable and community driven.

The GOSS should develop a comprehensive region wide disarmament strategy which is legally inspired, sustainable and community driven.

The Geneva based Small Arms Survey in a research conducted in some parts of South Sudan early this year identified reasons why the GOSS’s 2008 disarmament drive failed. It lists the reasons as follows:

  • Poor planning

  • Lack of overarching policy

  • Lack of legal framework

  • Inadequate engagement of civilian population/communities

  • Sporadic implementation.

 

To make sure that the disarmament is successful this time, the South Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) should develop and pass a comprehensive disarmament bill.

First, the bill should address the issue of disarmament in terms of arms collection, gun possession licensing, severe legal punishment for illegal possession of arms, responsibility for rearming, and illegal use of gun for crime commitment.

Secondly, the bill should put an effective plan in place to seal off both internal and external sources that may rearm the disarmed communities. The plan should address prevention of flow of illegal arms from other countries into South Sudan. It should as well prevent internal sources from rearming the civilians.

Thirdly, the bill should provide compensations (incentives) for those whose guns are going to be taken away by disarmament. These compensations should be in two forms: individual and community compensations. The individual compensation should be for the gun (s) taken away while the community compensation should be in the form of provision of alternative economic activities that ensure less reliance on cattle herding economy, which encourages cattle rustling among the pastoral communities. The process for compensating individual guns owners must be transparent. Individual must come to designated guns collection stations to hand in their guns. They should then be registered, finger printed, pictured and issued with compensations. This is to keep track of how the compensation funds are being spent and to make sure individual have identification records.

Fourthly, the bill should provide a security guarantee for communities. This means that strong SPLA forces should continue to be deployed among the communities to provide protection against external attacks.

Fifthly, the bill should make the disarmament process a community driven. This means community leaders should take the lead along with the South Sudan disarmament authorities. The disarmament should be done in an atmosphere of cooperation and trust. Any resistance or disobedience to hand over guns should be treated as a violation of the disarmament law and should immediately be prosecuted by a competent court of law.

Sixthly, once this bill is passed and signed into law by President Kiir, MPs should go to their grass root communities and conduct vigorous information campaign to sensitize the communities about the new law and the need to cooperate during the disarmament. Once the message is well communicated, the disarmament should then commence across all communities in South Sudan at the same time.

In conclusion, these suggestions can contribute to the ongoing debate about how this deadly ethnic violence in South Sudan can be put to an end. As discussed in this article, there is a serious need for an urgent deployment of well equipped SPLA and UNMIS forces in the affected areas to stop future killings. A durable peace and security can be brought by addressing the root causes of the conflict through peace and reconciliation conferences. Legally inspired and community driven disarmament policy that collects all guns from civilians and seals off internal and external sources of rearmament will help save lives and ensure sustainable security in South Sudan.

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