South Sudan: Land liberated with blood must enjoy security

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Wednesday, 24 August 2011 22:23
Written by Gabrial Pager Ajang, The New Sudan Vision (NSV),
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 pager1(Lincoln, Nebraksa) - Six years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, the Government of South Sudan can show off the implemented portions of key protocols that were enshrined in the accord.  The executed peace protocols granted South Sudan its right to hold referendum on time, allowing all south Sudan citizens to vote overwhelmingly for secession. The euphoria of independence has come with hopes for socio-political and economic development. Tears were wiped away, trauma, and stress/depression from a long war eased. The disabled came out on Independence Day, rejoicing and happy for the ultimate price their comrades paid for freedom. The widows and orphans concurred that their husbands and parents did not die in vain. These tales of independence explicitly tell us that the wounds of the war are still raw and fresh but also compel us to look forward. The South Sudanese soil is still misty with the blood of our heroes who sacrificed their lives for social justice, democracy, freedom, liberty, prosperity and true political dispensation.

However, the future of South Sudan state remains largely bleak and gloomy. Wishful thinkers would like to see the South fail or become rogue nation. Indeed, there is greater danger that needs to be realized and contemplated by all south Sudanese citizens and it is that there are many roads to failure and few roads to success. Abyei protocol has not been implemented, the border between the south and north has not been demarcated, the popular consultation in Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan at its stalemate because it is held hostage by President Bashir, corruption has peaked. These are critical national issues that require unyielding attentions from the government of South Sudan to basically provide a visionary political framework that maps out how each issue can be addressed independently, at least over a period of the next ten years. It will never do us any good if our government keeps relying on the CPA-related thinking. This may be sound surprising to our senior government officials but the CPA reached its end on July 9th, 2011, when South Sudan declared independence. Crafting new missions and vision for next decade will ensure the security of our future; anything less than that, we are doomed.

Following his inauguration as the president of the newest nation in the world, president, Salva Kiir began talking about formation of his government, but his numerous presidential decrees are casting doubts on the constitution. Many South Sudanese in Diasporas are wondering what presidential decrees mean in the context of South Sudan constitution. This presidential privilege has triggered an intense debate. Does it mean executive order? Apparently, words are losing their meaning in South Sudan. Some in the Diasporas are extremely concerned whether this is law or a privilege. If the government of South Sudan has adopted constitutional liberal democracy then it is fundamentally important for president to allow appointees or nominees to be confirmed by the national assembly. For instance, the key positions in the executive and judiciary branches such as Governor of the Federal Reserve, the Supreme justices, secretary of defense, the interior and foreign affairs, the national security can fall under that confirmation in order to create check and balance in the government. It is good for the country because it creates restrain and constitutional leverage among the judicial, executive, and the legislative branches. The current presidential decrees may in the future put our country on a dangerous path and could spark brewing internal instability. It is critically important to all of us to anticipate or address national issues before they either backfire or spiral into conflict.  I want to be very clear, I have no problems if the president appointed all his brothers to hold these key positions provided that they are qualified and they will deliver needed services to citizens. I extremely believe in nominating candidates on the merits. Some wise presidents nominate their appointees on the basis of regional diversity in order to preserve national interest; others choose not to do it.

To be exact, our government is at starting point; it has started walking like a child learning how to walk. This moment is crucial for the government of South Sudan to lay foundation and frame provisions for next generations. It is essential for president of the Republic of South Sudan, the Judiciary and the general assembly to corporate on the ground of introducing viable democratic governance, by envisioning methods and policies of transitioning from current tribal conflicts to normalcy and stability.

The government of South Sudan kept quiet when Duk, Wernyiol, Murle, Fangak, and Uror counties were attacked.  Maybe some in the government might have thought that these tribal conflicts will go away with times but apparently that is not the case. Tribal conflicts are not caused by a single issue; sometimes they cannot be easily delineated and resolved individually—sometimes they require programs that offer comprehensive resolutions. It is also important to stress that many major national issues demand clear comprehensive political frameworks/ viable road map if we are interested in addressing all problems in the South Sudan for the next ten years. For example demarcation of the border and securing our territorials integrity, and security of citizens are intrinsically intertwined. It is critically essential for the current government to realize that it can deliver services its citizens only when it guarantees security and restores stability.

It concerns me, like any other citizen who loves his country, when government officials continue singing songs of development in the midst of internal political crisis. It is even more absurd to learn that all branches of government have embarked on buying the most expensive cars in the world and interestingly enough, there are no roads for those to be driven on. When did the third priority become the first? The security in the south and holding corrupt government officials accountable should be our highest priority. Are our government officials who fought for the last 21 years already out of touch? When did Juba become Washington? Did they also forget the long standing animosity among Dinka, Nuer and Murle? If even if everyone in Juba can forget, I do not think, President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek could forget that easily because the most rival tribes in South Sudan reside in Jonglei, Unity and Warrap states where they came from.

 The tribes are locked in a never ending cycle of warfare and revenge. Duk and Wernyiol tragedy were simultaneously orchestrated by Nuer. The innocent civilians were attacked, and massacred in cool mornings while they were sleeping. Their cattle were taken, grain stores looted and houses burned down into the ground. What did the government South Sudan do about it…nothing?  Such crisis brought back raw memories of war. It is depressing to hear children still flee at night during peace time; mothers and fathers escape the horrifying scenes of conflict. The current situation of South Sudan reminds me of the first horrific steps I took on an epic--torturous journey from Ethiopia to Kenya, during the War between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Tribes in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap, and Lakes states have never given peace a chance.

Back to the tribal conflict, one will never forget the graphic images of the dead bodies from Fangak. Many bodies were maimed, mutilated as attested to by all the photos that relatives of the victims posted in Facebook. Over hundred people killed by Murle in a single day. The wishful thinkers in Juba thought this conflict would miraculously go away or they prayed for divine interventions, but apparently, it proved opposite. Few days ago, Murle again attacked Uror County, killing more than 600 and wounding more than 200, that as revenge for their previous attack by Nuer-Lou. This brutal mass killing is said to be the worst in history of war between the SPLA and North government; because there is no single conflict, at least in the last six year that one could recall, in which more than 600 lives were claimed in a day. One wonders, will conflict ever end in South Sudan? Such conflict gradually puts country on the verge of economic collapse and political stalemate. Now, thousands of children in Uror County are crying, not knowing where their next meals will come from. The wealth their parents had accumulated for generation is gone. Over 3,000 heads of cattle were taken. It is now inevitable to lose many children to starvation and water borne diseases, while the magnitude of this fighting is yet to be determined.

How can government bring development to a country where a child from Warrap state cannot sleep at night because of insecurity? How can the government pave the way for infrastructure development, when Nuer, Murle and Dinka clash over cattle grazing? How can the general assembly work on provisions to support the development of good roads and sophisticated communications gadgets when the north Sudan government holds Abyei hostage and continues to destabilize the South?  How can Jonglei, Upper Nile,Warrap, and Unity states governments can attempt to support schools for children, especially orphans who lost their parents in the war, when Murle, Dinka, and Nuer engage in the most heinous crimes against humanity? The children and women of south Sudan are again full of fears, doubts and their future is full of uncertainties. They had no idea how thing would turn out tomorrow, whether they would be alive or dead. Citizens are forced to suffer. Old wound hurts. Some people try to endure old pains. Some of them revisit old doubts of the last 21 years of war.

Although the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the SPLM political party platforms, goals, and objective were premised upon liberal democracy, these questions are mind-boggling. Will the government of South Sudan ever smoothly transition from authoritarian-totalitarians brutal-oppressive regimes of the north to constitutional democracy? The constitutional democracy is absolutely based on the “consent of the governed”. The government that cares about social contract of citizens, one essential contract between government and citizens is that citizens are required to pay taxes in order for government to guarantee their protection and safety. Tribal conflicts in the South demand formation of peace commission premised on peaceful co-existent and reconciliation. This commission can be equipped with all necessary resources to effectively addressed issues at hands and promote tribal dialogue. We should not forget the war between the South and north has serious hampered and inflicted hardship on tribes in the South. The impact of war may hinder prospect of achieving peace and reconciliation in the South. The war has created more criminals in the South than in the North.

The tribal conflicts demand unwavering rapid socio-economic and political transformation for the sole purpose of encouraging people to live in peace, prosperous and harmonious conditions. Moreover, the various ethnic groups in South Sudan can mutually co-exist with the other groups if measures of ensuring due process in law and order, fair distribution of resources, respect of individual-human rights and mostly eradication of poverty are put in place. If this is done, the tribes can easily forget all the wounds and scars of the war between the South and north that have unleashed detrimental impact on them and which sadly and slowly threaten to cripple the viability of this young nation. The constant tribal clashes are a national problem and they need to be addressed by the President and Vice President. The president and the vice president need to come to the states that have frequently engaged in brutal tribal warfare: Warrap, Jonglei and Unity states where young men have looted property, and raided cattle in an unending cycle of revenge. That menace needs to stop, and it can only be stopped by the president and vice president.

Children, women and old men continue to suffer in Jonglei, Warrap, Upper Nile and Unity states; it seems like the government of South Sudan is never concerned. One wonders, whether this is a pure secret battle of power in Juba which is spilling over to states and destroying thousands of innocent lives. If not then the president and vice president must lead by example. The tribal conflict has devastated Bor, Fangak, Uror, and Pibor. It is time for President Kiir and Dr. Riek to join hands, and launch campaign for unity, peace and reconciliation that is geared toward eradication of tribal conflict in the South. It must be communicated to all the tribes that their future is inextricably tied in one destiny. It is important to stress that their strength lies in their reconciliation, peace and coexistence. It is importance to put their differences behind for the sake of humanity, love of country, and for their common values. It is time for government to take action and provide strategic plans that would address the conflict diplomatically. There are several missed opportunities that the government would have reconciled youth and gangs of all tribes. There are many opportunities the government would have taken to rehabilitate these communities and at least create a fertile ground for peace and reconciliation to flourish. Conflicts that had occurred in the past required careful investigation and resolving altitude to know exactly what causes the fight in Wernyiel, Duke, Uror and Fangak to be addressed once and for all.

It is important for president and vice to champion peace process in Jonglei, Warrap and Unity states because it would be part of ensuring premise of good governance. It is important to confront few deviants and radicals among the Dinka, Nuer and Murle, and place them in a hall where they cam be lectured about the importance of diversity in South Sudan and the consequences of conflict. Significant social interactions among tribes, especially young men must be stressed, and it may offer better understanding, and probably spirit for peace, unity and harmony would emerge. If that happens, the unity and reconciliation of South Sudanese tribes will have allowed the beauty of our democracy to shine in Africa, and most importantly our children would adopt peace of mind and a special place they called home.

When the Republic of South Sudan became the newest member of African Union at Addis Ababa Ethiopia, president Kiir promised to commission our troops as part of peace keeping force to Somalia. It raises lots of concerns. Our troops had fought for 21 years, some are traumatized and others have never had rest they surely needed. It is also little difficult for our soldiers to provide security in Somalia at time Abyei referendum has not been held, border between the South and the North has not been demarcated, Nuba mountain and Blue Nile residents are seized and they are constantly attacked by the North government. These are major national political issues that demand clear political frameworks/road-maps for the next ten years.  It is significantly important to secure our territorial integrity in order to deliver services to our citizens. But to provide security at Somalia is secondary. Somalia is also a country that is somehow supported by North Sudan; it may not serve our national interest to commit our troops to that part of Africa. The major national issues must be carefully analyzed and rationalized before implementation and this includes nomination of the most important ministerial positions in the government

*By Gabrial Pager Ajang. He can be reached 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.