BY: Federico Vuni Awi, JUBA, JAN/26/2014, SSN;
For over five decades we the people of south Sudan have struggled against injustice and oppression by the successive governments of Sudan before achieving our full independence. This is our 9th year following the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) which provided self government for the people of south Sudan, initially, in the form of The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) within a united Sudan; it was followed by a referendum which led to creation of an independent state on July 9th 2011.
During both periods post signing of the CPA, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has been in control of government.
Although the Republic of South Sudan (ROSS) is currently in its 3rd year of independence, unfortunately, our people are yet to see any fruits of our long awaited liberation in terms of development opportunities, better basic service provision, the rule of law and order, security, stability and prosperity in a free democratic state.
The government of the Republic of South Sudan under SPLM leadership has failed to lead our people out of poverty and deprivation towards prosperity, peace and sustainable development; instead the ruling party has allowed corruption and tribalism to spread, thereby permitting instability and tyranny to prevail.
Instead of working towards a realisation of the aspirations of our people, both the government and dissident group resorted to misuse of scarce national assets including military resources to kill each other and innocent civilians, destroying what limited national infrastructure existed, as well as, jeopardising the lives and livelihoods of Citizens in the process.
The current national crisis has been painfully inflicted upon us by two warring factions of the ruling party (The SPLM) which requires a firm stand from us all and our friends.
It requires a collective condemnation by South Sudanese of the military conflict between the government of South Sudan and dissident group.
The consequences of this conflict are horrendous; over 10,000 lives lost, wanton murder of innocent civilians, exposure of countless citizens to injury and trauma, massive forceful displacements and re-displacement, loss of property and subjection of the vulnerable especially children and women to starvation and unnecessary suffering.
As a result, The Labour Party South Sudan calls upon both the President of The Republic of South Sudan and Dr. Riak Machar to immediately and unconditionally order their fighters to stop the unwarranted bloodshed between citizens of one country.
Pursuing this war is meaningless; it has brought nothing but death and destruction to entire towns: Bor, Bentiu and Malakal; displacement of entire villages has raised the number to over half a million inhabitants away from their homes, sending them into a life of untold misery.
To add fuel to fire, the incumbent ROSS government has permitted foreign troops to interfere in our internal national affairs in the name of intervention, while knowing very well that, it is a political conflict within a sovereign nation!
In solidarity with our long suffering people, The Labour Party South Sudan strongly rejects the unilateral deployment of the Ugandan People Defence Force (UPDF) into South Sudan territory.
The involvement of Uganda through its armed forces in this armed conflict has categorically added further complications and different dimension to an already fragile situation.
If any such actions were necessarily required, we regard that it is proper to seek support from authoritative and legitimate regional bodies such as IGAD or international bodies like the UN; and such a force when deployed should maintain a neutral position and stance.
The Labour Party South Sudan acknowledges that this war cannot be justified and that it is being used as a means to divide the people of South Sudan along ethnic lines and backgrounds, which serve to protect dubious interests of politicians but not those of the people of south Sudan.
The leaders of both warring groups have conveniently forgotten that this very people whom they are destroying brought them to power through the ballot boxes; they deserve and are owed respect and protection.
A government which fails to protect the lives of its Citizens looses legitimacy to rule and both partners in crime have failed to safeguard the interests and welfare of its civilians.
In addition, both parties to the current conflict have failed to secure safe corridors for exit of non-combatants and for provision of humanitarian assistance including shelter, food and water. It is highly distressing and abhorrent to witness and watch pictures of lifeless children and women.
The ground truth and reality now is that people are fast losing confidence in both leaders and the SPLM party as a credible organisation for their failure to resolve internal affairs of the organisation, putting their own house in order and sorting out their political differences through democratic means.
How come they want to continue leading a whole nation with all its complexities when they cannot sort out affairs at the smaller less complex level of their party?
As a result, The LPSS believes that this was an avoidable situation; at worst, strategically intended to derail constitutional processes leading to fair elections in 2015 as planned.
On the other hand, the other political parties and partners in government with the SPLM have failed to act as a voice of caution to bring the leading ruling party SPLM to its senses.
But worst of all, the parliamentarians being legitimate representatives of the people should have strongly voiced their concerns as the situation gradually deteriorated and descended into headlong confrontation on that bemoaned Sunday 15th December.
They sat and watched as the situation exploded, plunging their constituents who elected them into danger with no recourse other than to run for their lives. The legislative assembly has not been vocal enough in questioning the essence of such a war other than in support of only one side to the conflict.
There has been no purposeful condemnation of the targeted massacre of civilians on ethnic grounds for being either a Nuer or Dinka; and all statements released by both parties to the conflict are in effect just scoring of invaluable points.
When all these upheavals are over, hopefully sooner rather than later, Kiir and Riak may finally be reconciled as it has happened before and they will again get their justice by offering each other positions in government which they have been doing anyway for the last eight (8) years.
Other fringe benefits will include the negotiation for their immunity from prosecution.
But will there be justice to those innocent citizens of South Sudan who have borne the force of impact and fallen victims to this senseless war? And who is the best person to ensure that true and real justice take place?
Hence, The Labour Party South Sudan joins all peace loving people of South Sudan, the mediating group, regional and international community to impress urgency upon both warring parties, especially President Salva and Dr. Riak the leader of the dissident group to:
● Cease hostilities without preconditions and allow humanitarian assistance for the displaced and affected civilians.
● Engage in an honest negotiation for a comprehensive resolution of the conflict and its aftermath.
● Adopt acceptable democratic means to resolve all the outstanding socio-political, economic and development issues.
Finally, The Labour Party South Sudan envisages that the only way forward is to work towards a truly genuine national reconciliation as a process which will ensure that democracy and sustainable peace does prevail within a framework of an interim Government of National reconstruction.
The mandate of such a government needs to be unanimously agreed upon and its task should include but not limited to:
a. Holding a national convention for dialogue on peace and reconciliation as part of the process towards rebuilding confidence in government, energizing national unity and social cooperation;
b. Conducting independent investigations into the murder of innocent civilians to allow justice to take its fair course;
c. Reviewing the performances of all key national institutions and government structures to make them equitable, effective and acceptable to all citizens of South Sudan;
d. Organising and conducting of fair, just and democratic elections at both state and national parliamentary level, as well as, the elections for the presidency and state governors.
e. Reconstructing a national army for South Sudan;
f. Separation and empowerment of the three (03) wings of government whereby the legislative and judiciary are each independent without any interference from the executive wing;
g. Hastening the production of a permanent constitution including a thorough consultation of the people and country to enable the will and interests of the people not the politicians.
h. Conducting a national consultation for mapping out a real agenda for development and prepare the necessary infrastructure that can enable an effective implementation of such a plan.
i. Initiation of reforms in governmental systems that will hopefully reduce corruption and help to establish a safe society within towns, cities, border points, roads and everywhere in the country.
In conclusion, my message to fellow citizens of South Sudan is:
Let us stand-up together, strong with joint hands to be able to bring our assuming politicians truly and effectively to account for their actions. The people know what they want and will lay down the ground rules for good governance.
Let us together regain control and direction of our destiny as a people and country. There is neither room nor time to allow the hijacking of our destiny.
Let us reject tyrannical systems and instead work to establish a system that best serves and suits the people’s interest and needs not that of the politicians.
South Sudan urgently needs a system that is capable of ensuring true social justice, stability, equal participation, peace, development and prosperity for all now and for the coming generations.
Federico Vuni Awi
Leader, The Labour Party South Sudan – http://laboursouthsudan.org/