Commentary

Making Sense of Self-Government: Why the Crusade for Perpetual Security is the Last Best Hope for Stability in Southern Sudan

(Omaha, Nebraska)--The security traumas caused by Lou Nuer may have been targeted at Wernyol, Baping and Duk Padiet communities of Jonglei, but in a larger context they are a telling indictment of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and its management of all of its security affairs in the last four years. The confluence of violence, as we have come to learn about it in Lakes and Warrap, Malakal, Akobo, Pibor, Bari and Mandari, Dinka Bor and Mundari, is a detriment to self-government. Although our government doesn’t seem to care about investigating such incidents, I’m compelled to add my voice among many who have given loudest voices to the concern of violence as it tore communities apart.
 
On January 9 2005 Sudan was forever changed with a stroke of a pen bearing witness to a document that popularly became known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA). Southern Sudanese and much of Africa began celebrating this six-year peace transition, for it was, and still is, viewed as a beacon of hope--a sacred down payment to a better Sudan, whether united or separated. It has afforded the people of Southern Sudan a unique opportunity to experiment in self-government. However, over the last four years, this document has remained shrouded in controversy.
 
Inter-ethnic violence in Southern Sudan continues to present the gravest test to the CPA. It is not surprising that much of Southern Sudan is still not weary of the most recent acts of terror that descended on the residents of Jonglei. But to a person who has lost a loved one or to the entire communities of Baping, Wernyol and Duk Padiet, the emotional toll is nothing short of tragic.
 
The Lou Nuer could be having legitimate concerns not addressed by the government or their MPs may not have done a good job to keep them abreast with government programs but even that should not have been used as a license to kill innocent civilians.
 
For Lou Nuer to characterize the senseless onslaught as mere gesture of people ‘taking matters into their own hands’, justifying it, while decrying SPLA as ‘taking side with Dinka Bor’ is worrisome and speaks volume of a society that is becoming unhinged. Imagine a situation in which every angry community in the south takes matters into their own hands. At the end of the day we would have driven into the ground the south Sudan we desperately need and who would have won? If you say it is NCP, as our usual refrain dictates, then you can be forgiven. But in all honesty it is ignorance that would have won the day. The sad commentary expressed by Lou Nuer in their press release (dated Sept. 25…see Sudan Tribune) amounts to improper defense.
 
It is evident there has been too much hostility toward the Greater Bor community these days. That amount of hostility shows through killing of children, women, and elderly or through unfairly making the entire community the scapegoat for every single decision or missteps in government. It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There are cabals of conspirators who are bent on finishing their would-be nationals; who are wishing Bor Dinka every conceivable ills, thinking that there is blessing in seeing or in waking up one morning and finding no single person from Bor or anywhere in South Sudan.
 
Whatever the motivation, the Lou Nuer militias are trapped or seem to be taking a page or cues from 1991 massacres in Bor, or from the enabler, Riek Machar—he of the unrepentant type, whose political expediency has contributed to people gunning for survivors' further demise. The Bor Dinka have remained undeterred and all they have wanted is security and a chance to rebuild shattered communities with the little they have—something that speaks to the common decency of the majority of southern Sudanese as people with a capacity and generosity of spirit to forgive, because where on earth, if not only in southern Sudan, can a leader kill and still be patronized as vice president of the republic?
 
Without a doubt, the quest for human security is inseparable from the emotional investment we have placed in seeing a new nation emerge from the shackles of Sudan’s oppressive history. But it is a concept that is sadly becoming elusive for people of Southern Sudan. President Kiir must declare militia menace and interethnic violence a national emergency to give SPLA and police personnel the needed impetus and preparedness. Following are some of immediate flagship policy steps that can be used as pointers for mitigating the worrying trends of insecurity—the very albatross around our necks:
 
LEVERAGE COMMUNITY POLICING-- In postwar societies, as in life, some things are certain. People expect to live safe and secure lives; they rebuild their societies with little resources they have. But the same societies deal with the nagging question of illegal arms in the hands of people. Availability of millions of illegal arms will remain a monumental challenge to wrestle with if we don’t pay greater attention. It is both a human as well as a socio-economic security challenge and our government had better not drag its feet. Conservative estimates say that every person in Southern Sudan has at least four illegal firearms, and with every round of disbarment, one or two are given up, and the other two are hidden.
 
If words are any guide, then the GoSS plan to undertake another round of disarmament is a welcome news, and I would advise against some pitfalls such as approaching it in some shaky, half measured, and piecemeal ways especially one which gives preferential treatments to some tribes, because that would be meaningless . Because if there is one thing that this trend in insecurity teaches us, it is that our communities and the government must address the security conundrum by stepping up community policing.
 
As the United Nations Center for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration explains it: “the philosophy of community policing encourages the development of new ways of dealing with community security concerns, particularly to ensure that the different needs of social actors — women, men, old and young, minorities, disabled people and other vulnerable groups — are systematically dealt with. Community policing forums are the best means to create favorable environments so that ex-combatants and formerly discredited local police are accepted back into the community. Citizens will only hand over their firearms if they can see a visible improvement in public safety and security and if they have a certain degree of trust in the police and the security agencies.”
 
The GoSS, to its credit, started with the goal of a secure and unified south by integrating over 60,000 OAGs into SPLA back in 2006. Although the exercise was for good reasons, it fell short; it was without enough protection of civilian population, otherwise there is no reason we are still talking about militias in 2009 because that is what the integration squarely tried to avoid. The disarmament that followed was not comprehensive. We have heard cases of some undue influence from UNAMIS as they advised against forceful disarmament or the case of Murle. We now are dealing with a society that is fast becoming proliferated with small arms.
 
THE SOCIETAL IMPEREATIVE--My fervent plea to the GOSS, and the state of Jonglei, all communities, large and small, is to reassess, and define public consciousness and not take a back seat to the disturbing security trends in Jonglei and all over south Sudan, because the brand of insecurity we have got threatens to corrode the very lungs of our society and any plan to save lives must go beyond disarmament—it does not require short-term fixes but permanent ones.
 
A crusade for perpetual security is needed as our only best hope for stability in Southern Sudan.
 
The crusade must begin as a candid conversation between our leaders and the public, with our leaders looking in the mirror and accepting reality and severity of the insecurity; they must be the first to show sacrifices and communicate government’s appetite that the GoSS can lead through words and deeds. Part of that is by reassuring all communities and tribes that the SPLA, SPLM and GoSS are not instruments of Dinka Bor power; that every tribe is legally recognized as equal under the constitution.
 
And despite having done it several times, the GoSS ought to reactivate its promise to traditional leaders by calling an urgent summit of all Paramount chiefs to press for their cooperation and by extension rein in members of their communities who exhibit impulsive behaviors.
 
GoSS should ask every community to deposit revolutionary goodwill at the table of nation building by sacrificing to be a part of a solution and giving due deference to peaceful and forceful disarmament.  If the Lou Nuer instead want to promote militancy by resisting disarmament and justifying their killings as they would want everybody to buy into outdated worldview---killing and then letting the public now about your grievances later, then soon history will consult with them by assigning appropriate bywords. Times for appearing beholden to tribal politics are over and this time southern Sudanese must muster the will and courage to reprimand anybody or any community bent on seeing us go backwards.
 
 SPLM has over the years been a victim of its own success, starting with the splits, and now militias and some party co-opting its name as democratic change. Although they say a year or two is a lifetime in politics, we can agree time is very short for 2010, 2011 and the unfinished business of disarming the south. The leaders of GoSS had better match our security apparatuses with our people’s aspirations to live in peace and dignity.
 
 FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIMES--Part of the crusade should also involve anticipation of increase in crimes in future Southern Sudan and that demands nothing less than proactive measures. Despite having been in office for few months, Gier Chuang, GoSS minister of internal affairs is keeping security front and center in Juba; he deserves credit for courting cooperation of INTERPOL—the reputable international police organization that helps nations combat all sorts of crimes and insecurities. The crusade to keep our people safe must embrace critical security infrastructure: adequate police training, sharing of crucial intelligence and we encourage Mr. Gier to, all regard, fast track the assistance of UNAMIS even though these peacekeeping mission aren’t doing enough now.
 
CONSULT & COMMUNICATE WITH CONSTITUENCIES--Our government must realize that stability comes when people are assured to self develop; it can marshal resources for youth and the entire southern workforce to rebuild communities. It can do that by building upon SPLM sound vision of peace through development---something that the Southern Sudan interim Constitution called for, which culminated in the Constituency Development Funds of 2007. The government can make it a policy to have members of parliament communicate local and national programs to constituencies on regular basis because that will ease tension on those with no patience—people will have confidence that their plans are being acted upon. MPs hold the key as chief salespersons of government programs to the people. This is one sure way concerns like those of Lou Nuer can be addressed without always resorting to civilian killings as a way of proving a point.
 
Our leaders need to tap into that common liberation wisdom and genius in which our commanders and proud soldiers were conscious of protecting civilians; it served us well in the bush and this is no time to be complacent; it won us victories against our archenemy and there is no reason we shouldn’t apply it. If our leaders are mistaking lukewarm response by our population because they are not used to voting leaders out, then time is fast approaching for that right to be brought to bear by our voters. Any MP or minister with an ear needs to hear!
 
CULTIVATE CIVIC SENSIBILITIES
—we stand at the edge of information and historical eras and empowering our citizenry with information and ability to report can help us build bridges to the future. It is sad in our shortest history of liberation struggle we have learned very little about ourselves, which is a bitter pill to swallow. Going forward, and even in the event of successful disarmament and total elimination of illegal arms, communities ought to be always aware there are people within us who are capable of causing greater harm than NCP; the NCP maybe bankrolling militias or arming youth to underwrite the violence but every community must be asked one cardinal question: which family, or community wants their person to be another statistics added to the 2.5 million we have already lost? Let’s imagine a day when every person or leader from our communities will look in the mirror and says, “my duty to southern Sudan takes precedence over obsessions with tribal disinformation ’.
 
If the communities across Jonglei, across southern Sudan and in the Diaspora let that moment count, then we can be sure of making every state in the South a national leader in all spheres of development-- thus using our imagination not to incite and kill but to build lives and protect the war orphans, widows, elderly, women and the vulnerable ones in our communities.

And we all would have passed the baton of peace and security to generations.Call that meaningful self-government.

*For comments, you can contact the writer: 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..

Time for accountability in South Sudan

The continuous killings of innocent people in Jonglei State demand an answer.  All the murderers always come from a known county.  Earlier in March, a group of gunmen from Murle of Pibor carried out an attack on Lou Nuer village killing scores of people.  In the same month Lou Nuer attacked the Murle killing hundreds of people. In May, Lou Nuer went and burned into ashes the village inhabited by Nuer Jikany.

About 40 people were killed. In August, Murle slaughtered over 100 people in Akoba, a town belonging to Lou Nuer. Instead of Lou Nuer mourning their loved ones, they attacked Baping, a Dinka village in Twic East county killing 6 people. In August alone, Lou Nuer attacked Dinka of Wernyol twice, killing more than 60 people. A few days ago, Lou Nuer again massacred over 70 people in a Dinka town of Duk Padiet.

Do the attackers who terrorize the people in Jonglei have representatives in all level of government? The answer is yes, probably.

All these organized murders could not take place without the knowledge of the members of parliament and county commissioners and administrators. There is no way such frequent crimes could be organized in a constituency without the knowledge of the people in charge of leadership. Such leaders either abet or are part of the murders. People in leadership have a duty to ensure and execute the rule of law, equally and independently under the constitution. In this case of Jonglei insecurity, leaders whose people kill innocent people must accept their failure and resign their positions.

The leaders should know and fulfill their responsibility to ensure all their people live in harmony with societal laws. The leaders should punish people who break the law, instead of ignoring them or actively participating. The leaders who failed to keep their people from committing atrocities should pay the price of failing to enforce the law. Restoring the rule of law is not the task of the governor alone. It is the mandatory duty of ever man and woman in public positions. Leadership can’t just take the benefits of their position; they must take the responsibility and accountability of that position also. Just as any ordinary person was accountable to the chief, every person in government must be accountable to the people through the governor under the constitution.

When the leaders have failed, the governor must:

1) remove the failed leaders

2) trail the attackers through the governmental system. That is to say hold the MP or commissioner accountable for failure

Removal of the bad leaders may add to the turmoil in the region. However, until everyone recognizes the importance of law in the system, giving in to those threats will have much negative percussion. It is time for the ordinary people to restrain from following leaders who advocate killing of innocent people and stick to those who promote peace regardless of where they come from in the region. Leaders on the other hand, must learn how to respect human life. It is disheartening to see butchered of thousand of Bor Dinka in 1991 style repeated. When people are killed leaders will always try to justify the killing because they assume that no one will bring them to justice. If I have time, I would ask the Mps whose people are killed, but kept silent.

*The author can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

U.S. should not reward Sudan govt for bad behaviour

Advocates for Darfur in the United States and the Political Opposition in Sudan are both waiting for the same document. Any day now the Comprehensive Policy Review that is being undertaken by the Obama Administration will be finalized and revealed. There has been considerable concern that bad behavior will be rewarded by Washington.

 

One area of concern, which has considerable grassroots support within the Grassroots in the United States, is the activities of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army). This is a very unique situation. It affects the stability of four countries in Central Africa. The LRA itself has been used as a proxy force by one government, another justifies its actions because they exist, a third has been used as a base of operations and it is currently active in the fourth. In order the four nations are Sudan, Uganda, the DRC and the Central African Republic.

 

 

In recent days the United Nations has issued a statement that it is concerned that the LRA could increase the number of its attacks in Southern Sudan. A series of attacks that were launched along the Sudanese border with both the Congo and the Central African Republic displaced thousands of people in August. At this time tensions continue to simmer in the region.

 

 

Before the Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed under the stewardship of the United States the LRA was used by the Authorites in Khartoum to keep the South under control. After the CPA was signed the NCP, the ruling party in Khartoum was supposed to stop its support for the LRA. There have been persistent reports that the Sudanese Armed Forces have been resupplying the LRA as it conducts its Reprisal Operations as a result of Operation Lightning Thunder.

 

 

One of the reasons that the US Administration has wanted to scale back sanctions against Sudan is the counterintelligence that has been provided regarding Terrorism. Although it is not known what the contacts are it is apparent that tactics and operations that are being conducted by the LRA have not been forwarded to Washington or other Regional Capitals.

 

 

It is not only Sudan that should concern the US with its current tactics but also its ally Uganda. President Museveni has used the Organization to justify some of His Actions towards the Congo. In the Past President Museveni has used the Patronage of the White House to threaten the DRC if it did not take appropriate steps to capture Joseph Kony and end the horrendous actions of the LRA.

 

 

It seems that somehow that once again there is a proxy war currently being waged between Sudan and Uganda. It appears that the leadership in Khartoum could be using the LRA to further its agenda when it doesn't want to be seen as openly interfering in crisis spots in an attempt to show the Obama Administration that it seeks peace in the region. This status includes the upcoming Independence Vote that will take place in Southern Sudan in the near future.

 

 

The Administration should not reward Khartoum with reduced sanctions unless there are tangible steps taken. The fighting in Darfur has hit a lull but the root causes remain. The use of the LRA to keep tensions in the region acute alone should be enough of a reason to keep Sudan under the scrutiny of the US. But will the Administration do the right thing?

 

 

*The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet it can be found at morganrights.tripod.com. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

While Washington Fetters About Sudan Still is in Crisis

Within the next few days the Obama Administration will unveil its Policy towards Sudan. When the Congressional Hearings were held in July the Advocates for the situation in Darfur were not pleased. One of the Proposed Actions was to Remove Sudan from the State Department List of Countries that Sponsor Terrorism.

 

Having contacts with the Sudanese Government is not a bad idea. It is a good way to make contact. But to Refer to offering incentives to a Government as akin to giving a Child Cookies is bad PR. It give the impression that the person advocating such a strategy as being naive. But there have been several events since the US Congress held its hearings that should impact whatever decisions the White House makes.

 

 In Recent weeks there has been a Military Offensive in North Darfur. This Operation which has been conducted by the Sudanese Military is just such an operation one party would conduct before Peace Talks. Meanwhile in the South Several Parties with the exception of the ruling NCP and their allies met to plan the upcoming Presidential Elections that are scheduled to be held in April 2010. These Elections are to proceed a vote for Southern Independence in 2011.

 

According to reports an Advisor to President Al-Bashir referred to the situation in Darfur as a Conflict between farmers and herdsmen before being transformed into a conflict by other actors. It is interesting that the charges of Slavery were not discussed by the Delegation from the African Union or the Sudanese Government. In the same meeting the advisor blamed Chad, France and Israel for aggrevating the crisis which has been ongoing since 2003. It is true that there was currently a lull in the fighting until earlier this month however.

 

Another tactic that Khartoum is using is conducting a Proxy War against the South. The NCP had used the LRA a Ugandan Militia and the Lou Nuer Tribe in a Proxy war designed to maintain its influence in the South. The Security Situation in the South is so dire that if a Declaration of Independence is made that not only will Civil War be reignited within Sudan but GOSS may not adequately protect its own citizens.

 

What will the US do? Or better yet what should the US Do? The US Needs to enforce the CPA Strictly. Khartoum seems to believe that there is some wiggle room. As long as they think that is the case the better the chance for renewed conflict. Sudan should stay on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list not only for the Tribal Conflict but for Supplying the LRA as it moves from the Congo into Sudan, the Central African Republic and according to recent reports possibly to Chad.

 

 The Pentagon has been providing some assistance to the Army of GOSS. This probably will continue just to hedge bets. Ukraine and Kenya have been providing asssitance to the South as well. Offering Financial Aid such as what has occurred in Zimbabwe could be a good first step. But an step that could be more respected that what has been suggested which can be seen as Carte Blanche.

 

 The Author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com

Sudan and European ignorance

savo

Speaking at a press conference in Egypt, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, said that he does not support independence for South Sudan.

 As agreed in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended one of the longest and bloodiest wars in Africa, South Sudan will hold a referendum on self-determination in 2011 where the people in the south will decide if they want to remain a part of Sudan or form an independent country.

 Despite all that, Solana already dismisses the will of the people in the south and emphasizes "it is very important that the country remained unified."

 "I looked at the chart, I looked at the distribution of resources, I looked at the situation as a whole. I am for the unity of the country," said Solana.

 It's that easy and straightforward for Europeans to make crucial decisions regarding Africans, their lives, and their future. Just take a look at the charts, numbers, resources, and then make a quick decision.

 It happened before, when white Europeans, during their ruthless scramble for Africa’s resources, decided what the map of Africa should look like.

 A few centuries later, white Europeans still want to make final decisions that will profoundly affects the lives of Africans.

 The fact that the southerners in Sudan have been treated as lesser human beings first by the British colonial administration and then by the successive Arab governments in Khartoum for over a century does not matter at all to Javier Solana and Europeans.

 It doesn't matter that millions of southerners have been brutally murdered by the Islamist regimes in Khartoum since 1956.

 It doesn't matter to Solana and Europeans that the military regimes in Khartoum have marginalized the south politically, socially, and economically for over five decades.

 Given the Sudanese post-independence history and the deep-rooted, protracted, and bloody conflict between the north and south over power, resources, religion, ethnicity, and self-determination, a peaceful separation may be the best solution for Sudan.

 But the European Union does not seem to care what's best for Sudan and particularly the people in the south.

 It seems the Europeans have already made up their minds regarding the future of Sudan. Never mind the hopes and aspirations of the people in South Sudan.

 A few years ago Kosovo declared independence from Serbia and was supported by Solana and the European Union. Then Montenegro had a referendum where people voted for independence and this was also fully supported by Solana and the European Union.

 But when Africans in South Sudan want to decide in what kind of a country they want to live in, then Solana and Europeans have a problem. They want to dismiss their legitimate right for self-determination just to keep the status quo in Africa and the world.

 After decades of unthinkable discrimination and brutality by various Khartoum regimes, people in South Sudan should disregard ignorant politicians such as Javier Solana, who like to play games with people's lives around the world, and decide for themselves in 2011 about their future.

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Savo Heleta holds an M.Phil degree in Conflict Transformation and Management from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He is the author of "Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia" (March 2008, AMACOM Books, New York). He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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