From: Equatoria Leaders in the Diaspora
Issued: 27 December 2016;
1. We, the Equatoria leaders in the Diaspora, welcome the admission by President Kiir and the concerns he shared regarding: the sufferings of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees; the rising ethnic hatred, division and tensions in the country; the inability of parents to feed their children due to the economic situation; and the rising number of street children in the country. These are evidence of state failure.
2. We advocate for a genuine National Dialogue. After careful consideration of the speech by President Kiir on 4th December 2016, we have determined that his call for National Dialogue falls short of being genuine. In order to be acceptable to the South Sudanese people, and restore the country back to the path of peace, some fundamental changes are needed.
3. The motive behind President Kiir’s call for National Dialogue does not appear to be a genuine one. It is a manipulation to consolidate his stay in power for the next election. Evidence shows that processes of National Dialogue can be misused, should certain key criteria not be met. We believe that the President’s call for National Dialogue does not meet the requirement for achieving a successful outcome: Peace in South Sudan.
4. There are a number of reasons why President Kiir’s call for National Dialogue is not genuine:
a. The Framework: The framework for the National Dialogue is baseless. The Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) has been dead since July 2016. It is being implemented unilaterally by one party to the Agreement. Independent observers, such as the Secretary General of the United Nation, Ban Ki-Moon, remarked on the status of the ARCISS, saying: “President Salva Kiir has pursued an ethnically-based strategy to suppress dissent, muzzle the media, exclude significant South Sudanese actors in the peace process and unilaterally implement an agreement to reach elections.” Without a new agreement the current Government and Parliament are illegitimate. This includes the Presidency. President Kiir needs to reach out for talks with all those who have taken up arms in order to establish a new framework for peace-building.
b. Exclusive Dialogue: By holding the dialogue process wholly internal in the country, this excludes those in refuge in other countries, and those who are opposed to his Government. Despite a verbal security assurance by him, there is no guarantee for safety of citizens for open criticisms and dialogue in the country.
c. Patron: President Kiir is part of the problem of South Sudan, and will be a stakeholder in the Dialogue. His self-appointment as Patron is unsuitable and unacceptable due to a conflict of interests. President Kiir cannot implement justice, which might be demanded by the people, against himself as part of the National Dialogue. A neutral personality is required. This personality should be appointed by the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development Plus (IGAD-Plus).
d. Past experience: The National Dialogue Mini-Conference held in Western Equatoria State (1st and 2nd August 2016); and Western Bahr el Gazal State (2-4 September 2016) – launched by Vice President Wani Igga and Facilitated by Ambassador Dr Bethuel Kiplagat of Kenya included the following recommendations, among others:
• That all IDPs and cattle herders in the State should be repatriated and their weapons are collected;
• That the interim period should not be led by any of the two leaders i.e. H.E. President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar;
• The name of the army SPLA has been overtaken by events and it must be changed to suit an independent South Sudan.
It can be argued that because the Government did not wish to implement the above recommendations, due to a conflict of interests, the findings of the dialogue process were ignored. What assurance is there that the recommendations of the recently proposed National Dialogue will be honoured and implemented?
e. Forgiveness: In his speech, President Kiir asked the people of South Sudan to forgive him for any mistakes he may have committed. It appears the President does not know the mistakes he has made against the people of South Sudan or he is denying knowledge of any mistake. The President needs to come clean. He must reflect on his mistakes and correct them if he is to be taken seriously. We can remind the President of his Establishment Order that created 28 states in the country; his unwillingness and failure to implement the return of cattle and internally displaced persons from Equatoria, the causes of war in Equatoria and the country, among his other mistakes. In addition, if he cannot forgive his political opponents, how can he expect to be forgiven?
5. The Proposed Way Forward: In order to achieve a genuine National Dialogue, the following steps should be undertaken:
a. A new, inclusive peace conference is needed, under the auspices of UN, AU and IGAD-Plus, that should be conducted outside South Sudan.
b. A reconstituted Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and Parliament is needed without Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. The new TGoNU must include those excluded from the ARCISS of August 2015.
c. The Establishment Order for creating 28 states in South Sudan must be rescinded.
d. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) must be repatriated to their ancestral homeland, including all historical IDPs in Equatoria.
e. An interim neutral leader must be appointed to run the country during an interim period. This person must be someone who has not been involved in the current administration in Juba since 2005 – to be agreed as part of the Peace Talks.
f. The Patronage for the National Dialogue process must sit with UN, AU, IGAD-Plus in order to ensure the integrity of the process; and not with President Kiir.
g. Security guarantees must be established throughout the country, as part of the new peace agreement; and the Regional Protection Force must be deployed.
h. The agenda, scope, and steering committee (or any other bodies) for the National Dialogue process must be set and agreed upon by all the stakeholders.
i. Call for, and hold National Dialogue.
The National Dialogue process should give way to writing a permanent constitution, conducting national census, and holding general elections. The AU is reminded to deliver on the outcomes of their Report on South Sudan related to human right abuses committed in the country. This is part and parcel of achieving peace and justice to the country.
THE EQUATORIA LEADERS IN DIASPORA:
Federico Awi Vuni; Chair, Equatoria Community Organisation in the UK
Juma Piripiri; Chair, Federation of Equatoria Community Associations in Australia
Kwaje M. Lasu, MPH, RCP; President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-USA (ESSCA-USA)
Joseph Modi; President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-Canada (ESSCA- Canada)
For Correspondence: Federico Awi Vuni; firstname.lastname@example.org