By: Justin Ambago Ramba, JUL/27/2017, SSN;
For all practical purposes, the issues of war and Peace in South Sudan only came to take a foreign policy priority position when the USA administration under William J. Clinton, who was inaugurated in office in January 1993.
As the first USA president elected immediately following the end of the Cold War, President Clinton found himself face to face with what became known in the West as the new wave of Islamic Terrorism.
Coincidentally, it was the same time when the Sudanese Islamic fundamentalists seized power in the country through a bloodless military coup d’état, overthrowing a democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sayed Sadiq Al Mahdi on 30th June 1989.
Unfortunately, however, it is this narrow narrative which squarely links the future of South Sudan to the USA foreign policy and its national interest in the Sudan and the North-East Africa region that became the official face of an otherwise a wider South Sudanese struggle with how to properly govern itself since the days it started to enjoy a semi-autonomous status within the United Sudan.
First following the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement between the Military Junta headed by General Ga’afar Nimeri between 1972- 1983, and thereafter again following the 2005, Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and even today following its rightfully deserved declaration as a fully independent and sovereign state with a full membership not only in the United Nations, but also in many other regional and International Organizations South Sudan is still struggling with the very basics of how to govern itself effective as a modern state and not some kind of a tribal cattle Camp!.
To ignore the fact South Sudan had had the opportunity in past to govern itself under a semi-autonomous structure between 1972-1983 but failed the test, is to cut corners in an otherwise a very long story of how this part of the world has chronically struggled with governance issues
The truth be said, prominent elites who once ran the affairs of what was by then the Autonomous region of Southern Sudan, are largely still around to testify to the historical facts what is currently breaking this newly independent African country apart. All ills of South Sudan’s politics and failures lie in what is a deeply rooted ethnic bigotry.
Even long before the late military Dictator, Ga’afar Nimeri could decree the re-division of the then semi-Autonomous Southern Region into its original components of Equatoria, Bahr Al Ghazal and the Upper Nile, the southern Sudanese were already at each other’s throats as “one Single Tribe” looked at its numerical advantage and chose to declare itself as the only tribe out of the country’s 64 or so other tribes whose members are worth of not only holding the nation’s top positions, but especially the top job of President.
Little wonder, and hence, it came as no surprise when the infamous slogan of “Born to rule” made its way into the south Sudanese political vocabulary and public life even when the South Sudanese were still languishing under the successive dictatorships that took power in Khartoum since the dawn of the so-called postcolonial Sudanization that characterized the Sudanese national politics up till the official succession of South Sudan from the Old United Sudan.
Some of you may wonder as to if that was the case, who then come the South Sudanese all came to embrace the SPLA/M and fought under its insignia to get to where the country is now?
To keep it real, this is what the situation was like. When the SPLM/A rebellion begun in the Town of Bor, of ALL PLACES, the message it sent was of a Dinka frustration with the re-division policy decreed by Dictator Ga’afar Nimeri, obviously in contradiction to the articles of the Addis Ababa !972 Peace Agreement, but with a popular support in all across the Equatoria Region, and some parts of both Upper Nile and Bahr Al Ghazal regions.
But then something very important happened. Ga’afar Nimeri miscalculated the whole lot. When he chose to create a new alliance with the Islamist groups of late Dr. Hassan Abdalla Al Turabi and the Sufi Sunni Al Mahdi dynasty of the UMMA Party as represented by Imam Sadiq Al Mahdi, knowing or not, he had left the true basis of the Anya Nya Movement and the historical mutiny of Torit on 18th August 1955, no choice but to either come up with a rebellion of its own or tactically join hands with the Dinka dominated SPLA/M. The later choice prevailed and the rest is now history.
This brief prelude to the background of South Sudan’s politics is hoped to serve those not well versed with some of the nitty gritty and bits of one of Africa’s very dynamic political dispensations. And it is against this benchmark, that the author hopes his readers will be in unique and informed position to accept one solid, but very important fact, that the proliferation of violence, displacement, and food insecurity under dictator Salva Kiir Mayardit is not new to South Sudan, and so are their root causes.
The 2005, Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which Paved the way for the succession of South Sudan from Sudan. It was essentially an Agreement between the National Islamic front (NIF) of the predominantly northern riverain Arabized Nubian tribesmen and SPLA/M of the predominantly southern Dinka tribes. The CPA for practical reasons exempted the once again Autonomous Southern Sudan from any forced Islamic influences and jurisdictions, an outcome embraced by all south Sudanese of all ethnic denominations.
However, as it became abundantly clear later, the failure of the guarantor of the agreement to pressure for a democratic transformation in the country, South Sudan went to the referendum boxes still imprisoned in the “Dinka” prescribed “Tribal-Luak (Kraal -style) in both state governance and life-style. This is the same primitive and narrow scoped governance regimen that earlier led to the dismantlement of the Addis Ababa agreement in 1983.
Since 2005, this regime which continuously revitalizes itself in the name of “Bahr Ghazal Jieng Supremacy”, has already had devastating military confrontations with far reaching massacre of civilian populations in the Shillukland, the Murleland, the Equatorias, among the “Fertit” and even among the so-called Bahr Ghazal Dinka” communities from where the rogue and pariah regime draws most of its fighting forces.
As I write this piece, the “Bahr Al Ghazal” Dinka of Gogrial are busy killing one another under a state sponsored civil unrest, labelled for convenience sake as the “inter-clan war” between the Apuk and Aguok both of the so-called Gogrial state, dictator Salva Kiir’s own homeland.
Unless of course we want to cover up the burning fire in South Sudan that primarily stem from the poor governance and intentionally created chaos by the ruling elites and their power base in the ‘Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders’ (JCE).
Throwing dry grass over this fire, and it is exactly what those benefiting from the status quo are doing, in an attempt to cover up, arguably in the name of national sovereignty and the ‘JCE’s version of National Unity, is only as good as following in the footsteps of those tribal zealots who knowingly or otherwise, led to the dismemberment of the Old Sudan.
But let’s keep it real even if only for fairness’s sake. Any talk of national sovereignty or national unity, during the existing government only serves to promote the ‘Jieng’ (Dinka) hegemony, expansionism and their ill-advised ethnic supremacy.
The ongoing proliferation of violence, displacement, and food insecurity the countrywide is there to stay and even get worse as time goes, unless of course a radical settlement to the root causes of the crisis clinical and preferably surgical intervention.
One is made to wonder more and more, as South Sudan finds its fate in the bloodiest hands of the most incapable duo, dictator Salva Kiir Mayardit and opportunist Taban Deng Gai.
Can anyone in their rightful mind really trust the so-called unilaterally declared ceasefire by the regime in Juba, when the very regime is simultaneously engaged in heavy military attacks against the SPLA-IO HQs of Pagak?
Even the dump pro-government “ALL DINKA MILITIA” of Mathiang Anyoor, themselves will testify that they are under strict orders not to spare any villages and their inhabitants in the recent governments scorch earth campaign in rural Equatoria, Western Bahr Ghazal and many parts of Greater Upper Ile regions.
The current situation in the country renders any discussion of elections in the foreseeable future as an unnecessary diversion from the primary goals of achieving peace and reconciliation.
South Sudan’s leaders, neighbors, and regional and international partners must first focus on achieving peace based on the realization of a total new structure of governance in the country – democratic Confederalism.
This and only this extreme form of FEDERALISM as represented by CONFEDERALISM can bring about the end of the bloody struggle over who or which ethnic group (s) rule and monopolize the power in a centralized system governance, and thereafter create the conditions needed to hold credible elections.
These are urgent goals, and to achieve them, there is an equally urgent need to promptly revitalize of an inclusive and credible peace process by African Union and the UN Security Council.
This shallow belief that a peace process for South Sudan must receive financial and other resources from the West as represented by the TROIKA and the European Union or even the USA, are at their best representation of neo-colonialism and Imperialism.
The question that begs for an answer is, “If we the South Sudanese and our neighbors are capable of sponsoring the ongoing dirty War, Mass Killings, Rape, and Lawlessness”, why then it becomes an issue that must necessarily require a EU and TROIKA to Bankroll a Peace Process, if we really want peace and stability to reign in our midst!
BUT, if there is no political will from within our populace and political elites in country and the IGAD countries to the realization OF A PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE in South Sudan based on a new political dispensation as clearly proposed above, then there will be very little wonder if the fire were to consume both the green and the dry, in the country and the region at large!
Believe me, the historical inability of South Sudanese to face up to their inborn cultural differences and the political nurturing of hatred can keep South Sudan burning indefinitely. A small leaf from the rich political experience of South Sudan vis-à-vis North Sudan over the have a century of atrocious coexistence between the two sections of what was a one country, clearly underscores that all we are witnessing are non-starters on a genuine peaceful settlement.
Starting with the declared ‘One sided’ and bogus “National Dialogues”, fake and hypocritical “ceasefires”, basically meant to serve as military ploys and the futile attempts at entrenching a “One Party Rule” in the name of unification of the ruling party, as is the case of the embattled SPLM now high on the agenda, all are futile attempts at misleading the public opinion, but especially of course directed at soliciting foreign financial supports to sustain both the civil war and the dictators grip on power.
Again, another lesson learnt from the Old Sudan, clearly shows that any attempt to merely change or replace those in the seats of power in Juba, although likely to bring about a chance towards a conducive atmosphere for a serious dialogue, however, carried out in isolation of such well thought through programs is not in any way enough to bring about an everlasting Peace and stability.
On the other hand, given the fact that the current dire situation in the country is by all measure the outcome of a greedy and visionless leadership, this chronically devastated part of the world, will never have the opportunity for a genuine dialogue under the current regime, which itself is part of the crisis and not a solution.
Peace can only be realized when the regime in Juba is uprooted completely and replaced by one that will first seek the boldness to reconstruct the governance structures, a new social contract between the various nationalities if they would genuinely subscribe to the very idea of staying together as one country and under what arrangements yet to be agreed on and not imposed.
Radical as they may sound, but the author is optimistic that these proposals are the only viable options if South Sudan is ever to live in peace with itself. Maintain the status quo, is out of question and neither the idea of unification of the SPLM with the hope of surrendering every citizen’s hope for a better life to the regime’s so-called “Unknown Gunmen” – who are now well known and can be traced back to the doors of the J1 or the Republican Palace.
Author: Dr.Justin Ambago Ramba. A concerned South Sudanese and a Voice for the Voiceless and marginalized Millions.