FORCE ALONE WITHOUT POLICY AND LAW TO TRANSFORM THE SOCIETY IS COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE AND WILL NEVER CREATE A STABLE DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY: THE CASE OF SOUTH SUDAN.
BY: Juol Nhomngek, MAKERERE UNIV., KAMPALA, OCT/11/2013, SSN;
The use of excessive force against citizens is inhuman. Citizens of South Sudan are human beings and what is inhuman is foreign to them. The supreme law of South Sudan is very clear, the right of the citizens must be respected and upheld, which is the only way to achieve peace and lasting stability. Lasting peace will never be achieved through the use of force.
The way to achieve stability, Constitutionality and the rule of law is to respect the law and the rule of law themselves. Army generals must come out of the war hangover to the realities of the modern societies.
It is surprising and disappointing at the same time to see some of the army generals who fought bitter war with the North to protect and restore the dignity of South Sudanese turning around to violate the same principles on which the values of that war they fought were founded. I will explain those values shortly.
However, these army generals behave as if they are above the law. Nobody is above the law even the president himself is not above the law. The fact that the President seeks the approval of the parliament when he appoints any person through decree shows that he is not above the law. Law must take its course unfettered because it is shaped by history.
Nevertheless, these army generals behavior shows that they have learned nothing from history of Sudan.
They are wolves in sheep’s clothing; behaving as politicians externally but internally are full of militaristic attitudes that make them undermine all human values.
To put it clearly, justice, freedom, equality and dignity are the foundations and cornerstone for the Republic of South Sudan and there is a hope that if the leaders stick to these principles as guiding stars in the route of governance, the country will achieve unity, peaceful co-existence and prosperity and becomes a different nation from Sudan.
Therefore, the upholding of values of human dignity can only be achieved if the spirit of the law of the Republic of South Sudan is observed. One of such factors is turning the Country into the Police State where leaders run it by the “rule by law”.
The “rule by law” means the use of law to suppress people and ensure that they submit to the wishes of the leaders although such wishes are contrarily to their welfare. Some of the States in South Sudan have in fact achieved the status of typical Police States.
As things stand now the citizens in Lakes State are under every day curfew in every place and everywhere they are not allowed even to say anything in the place. The people in Lakes State stay under incognito and whisper all the times if they show disapproval of any government activity. The Lakes State Government is an example of the government that is ruling by law.
The fact is that there is no where on earth the Head of State can turn around to say that if the elected Members of the Parliament are not doing what he or she wants them to do then they can be dismissed.
The questions such uncouth way of thinking invites are “what if the head of the government is not working according to the interest of the people? What if the spirit of Constitutionalism and the rule of law are being abused? Can the elected members of the Parliament allow the Head of the State to kill the aspirations of the citizens?
What is happening in Lakes State is repugnant to the rule of law and the spirit of Constitutionalism South Sudan. What Lakes State Government should know is that the State which suppresses the aspirations of the people through the use of force is doomed to failure in its quest for achieving the rule of law and order. The rule of law and order is achieved through observing the rule of law and order by the authorities.
Such a situation as what is happening in Lakes State is quite unfortunate and a disincentive to the healthy political development for South Sudan. It is very unfortunate because history has taught us that if the State is determined to achieve results of advancing its own wishes at the expense of the masses, there will be a risk of such a State descending into chaos and anarchy.
Somalia and South Sudan are such examples called failed states.
South Sudan should learn from history which teaches that force alone without policy and law to transform the society is counter-productive and will never create a stable democratic society. The respect of the rule of law should follow the use of force as soon as the factors that necessitated the use of force disappear.
Democracy in my opinion has nothing in common with the regular holding of elections but it has much to do with the way the leaders respond to the needs of the people and their welfare. The country can hold elections regularly but still not democratic in nature.
In Uganda, for instance, many regular elections are held but every time election is held there are many crises, which show that there is no democracy. Moreover, the welfare of the citizens of Uganda is deteriorating.
Coming back to South Sudan, the President of the Republic of South Sudan should take the complaints of every citizen seriously and not to abandon them to force because they prove to be a thorn in the flesh of the government.
I was very much disappointed with the recent speech of the President concerning Lakes State when he visited it. The president in his language appears to have resigned from addressing the issues of Lakes State, leaving the people of Lakes State ‘To Whom It May Concern.’
According to the President’s speech, the people of Lakes State should be subjected to serious torture so that they should keep quiet in fear and leave him in peace. Is it a better solution to South Sudan Problem?
The Questions I want to ask the President of the Republic, General Salva Kiir Mayordit is: Mr. President is it now that the people of Lakes State are known to be noise makers? Where were they during the war? Are the people of Lakes State experimental ground for the use of force? Remember what I have said above, force alone without policy is a dead policy.
Lakes State Citizens are South Sudanese and they need to be listened to. The president loves them when there was war but now they are being abandoned to suffer indefinitely without the aid of the nation. It is strange. The particular attention has to be paid to them instead of resigning and leaving them to extreme use of force.
Instead of unleashing force against South Sudanese who seemingly disturb the government in general, the Republic of South Sudan must address those specific issues that cause them to behave as such.
One of the ways to do this is to enlighten and empower the people economically because one of the causes of instability in the country today is poverty and redundancy. South Sudan must look for a way to engage its citizens in National activities and keep them busy all the times.
In democratic nation the opinions of individuals count and this can be achieved through empowering individuals economically, which further means that a nation must learn how to deal with its citizens on individual and group levels.
South Sudan must learn how to deal with people on the individual basis if it wants to promote equality and non-discrimination among her people. Leaders of South Sudan must learn how to dialogue with the individual in the Country because maintaining peace in the Country through the use of force is not enough to ensure peace and stability.
Permanent stability is often achieved through dialogue and understanding among the citizens and with the government.
The country which is run by necessity, will never achieve stability. The use of force like what is happening in Lakes State, Jonglei State and partly in Unity State is based on necessity and those States as a matter of fact will never see permanent stability unless the government in Juba comes down to find out what exactly do the people want in those States.
What people want can only be found if the government introduces social dialogue program and proper policy to address the causes of discontents among the people.
The country that capitalizes on the use of force will never develop and will always remain at the edge of the developed nations. The use of force is not a permanent solution to the problems facing the Country, but instead, it suppresses the discontent of the people, which in turn creates a “Social Time Bomb” that can exploit at any time.
The government, therefore, needs to respect the right of individuals as enshrined in the Transitional Constitution, 2011. Article 9 of the Transitional Constitution provide that the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all persons.
This means that the rights that are provided for under the international human rights instruments that South Sudan is a party to must be protected from abuse by anybody or leaders in South Sudan.
The welfare principle provides that the needs of the people are the overriding principle in the governance. If the Republic of South Sudan wants to escape the unfortunate history that was and still befalling Northern Sudan from repeating itself, it must take the issue of the welfare its citizens seriously.
In my view, the same discrimination is still a glaring fact in most of the States in South Sudan. There is a lot of discrimination still going on in South Sudan. For instance, in Lakes State, those who do not have power are targeted by the government policies.
For example, the recent policy of the Cater-taker Governor, General Matur to stop payment of salaries of the students who were released by the government to go on study leave specifically targets those who do not have somebody in power.
The same thing happened in Jonglei State during the time of General Kuol Mannyang. Such a policy is detrimental and should not be allowed to proceed unchecked. Since South Sudan is a decentralized nation, the government in Juba must have a firm control over all ten states.
However, when we come to the reality, Juba has allowed the Army Generals in politics to treat the citizens as they deem fit throwing the rights of such citizens into oblivion.
Some of the generals have gone to the extent of depriving the poor South Sudanese their right to employment. The generals can dismiss any person in the Government payroll without lawful procedure.
Some of them deny poor South Sudanese right to education by stopping their salaries with which they were released officially and which are the source of funds for their education yet the children of these generals are in schools studying through the same means they are denying others by stopping their salaries.
For instance, I know of certain big man in the government who has used his influence to secure the release of his son to go for further studies while his son continues to receive his salary from the government unaffected.
I also know a daughter of a certain big man who is always on leave while her money follows into her account. I know them all and if I were to list them, the whole leadership in South Sudan will be implicated.
However, the irony is that when the same generals see that the poor South Sudanese are struggling with their future by talking with the government to be released officially without using the backdoor as generals are doing, they are targeted and denied an opportunity. This is what is happening in Lakes State.
I know this is a very sensitive issue as I have been cautioned by many who are concerned about my welfare of pointing these facts out but that is not my concern because I do not care any longer.
My major concern is to see that services reach the common persons in South Sudan and to save the country from being personalized. The country can only be saved if whatever the government does is put in sport light and exposed to the masses so that they are aware of what the government is doing.
The citizens should not be blind folded all the times that South Sudan is a New Country. The issue of South Sudan being a new country is something judicially noticed and there is no debate about it.
However, when it comes to the judgement, South Sudan can be judged on the point of view of a reasonable person in the Third World Countries. It can be judged at the same scale at which the Third World Countries can be judged.
The resources it has are the same as resources any other countries in the Third World have. The people must therefore be put in light to know this fact so that they will be able to wake up and demand for the accountability on how their resources are used in South Sudan.
The government of South Sudan has a duty to inform the people on how their money, which they pay through taxes, is spent. The government is walking in a wrong path by feeding the citizens on the food of ignorance without enlightening them on the fact that they are the sources where government derives its income.
The people must know that power of the South Sudanese leaders from Juba to Boma level in different counties is derived from them since the leaders derive their power from the Transitional Constitution, 2011.
Article 2 of the Constitution provides that Sovereignty is vested in the people and shall be exercised by the State through its democratic and representative institutions established by this Constitution and the law.
The fact is that the Constitution derives its authority from the will of the people, which makes it the supreme law of the land that has a binding force on all persons, institutions, organs and agencies of government throughout the Country. This means that the authority of government at all levels is derived from the Constitution and other laws that derive their power from the Constitution and in turn all derives their powers from the people of South Sudan.
It further means that all the ten states’ constitutions and all laws must conform to the Transitional Constitution, 2011. The power of the government officials, which is derived from the Constitution, which in turn derives its powers from the people, must be exercised according to the interest of the people.
The core of the rule of law is that whether someone is an army general or very rich person, he or she must be treated equally before and under the law with that person who is on the street.
If I were one of those who participated in the war that does not warrant me to grab the land of someone or taking salaries of the weaker members of the society on the basis that I have a power. The rule of law must be respected by all irrespective of their status in the society.
However, it is sad to note that the Army generals who turned politicians do not respect the law. They do things as they wish. They must therefore, learn to respect the rule of law, which is the cornerstone of the civilized society.
The respect of the right of a person to life is determined by the ways the other rights are respected, which means that the right to life is the same as the right to livelihood.
Therefore, the government of the Republic of South Sudan must always be guided by experience of the past and try as much as people to protect her people instead of acting like a typical hypocrite. The use of force must be reduced and the rule of law should be given a chance to succeed.
NB// The Authority is the Fourth Year Law Student in Makerere Law School, Kampala Uganda; he can be reached through: Email: email@example.com; Telephone: +256783579256