From: The Equatorian Community in the United Kingdom
To: The Chair of IGAD-Plus, C/o H.E Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (IGAD, TROIKA, UN, AU, EU, and China)
cc The Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS), SPLM/A-IO, and Governors of Equatoria States.
Date: 10th May 2015
Re: The Way Forward for Peace in South Sudan;
We, the Equatorian community in the United Kingdom, met in Manchester, England on 18th April 2015 and discussed the ongoing conflict in our beloved country.
We appreciate IGAD and the international community’s relentless efforts in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in South Sudan. We note with great sadness that the ongoing conflict has caused untold suffering and looming humanitarian disaster to our people in the country.
We are also deeply disappointed that the parties to the conflict (GRSS and SPLM-in Opposition) have continually violated The Declaration of Principles and Cease Fire Agreements already reached.
It is our conviction that the solution to the current conflict does not lie in simple power-sharing modalities as trends of the ongoing negotiations indicate. However, we strongly feel that addressing the root causes of the war and in particular the inclusion of all stakeholders in the peace process – as stipulated in the IGAD Agreement of the 9th May 2014 – will bring meaningful, sustainable and just peace to the people of South Sudan.
In this document, we urge IGAD-plus and both the negotiating parties to seriously consider our assessment of the problems and the humble solutions offered. We have focused our attention on two main contentious areas: (1) Security, and (2) Governance.
The ongoing civil war has adversely caused severe insecurity across the country. Many citizens have been forced to leave their places of origin in search of peaceful settlements in relatively unaffected cities, towns and villages in Equatoria Region. The influx of these Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) has significantly impacted on relations between indigenous population and IDPs as the latter arrived fully armed.
Also, their presence and behaviours have consequently affected security situation in the area. The vices of insecurity, human rights violations, absence of rule of law, land grabbing and occupation, destruction of crops and so forth become rampant.
Besides, corruption and nepotism practised by key government officials including those in law enforcement agencies cause mayhem to ordinary citizens in Equatoria. This is because almost all the security sector in South Sudan is predominantly controlled by one or two tribes.
As Equatorian Community in the United Kingdom, we strongly urge IGAD-Plus and the two warring parties to take into consideration the following points:
i. Ending the War:
The negotiating partners are hereby urged to negotiate in good faith in order to settle the conflict amicably. The voices of Equatorians in the Diaspora, rebel- and government controlled areas must be taken into consideration. If given opportunity, Equatorians in the UK are willing to send their representatives to take part in the forthcoming peace talks.
ii. Reforming security sector:
The composition of the security services in South Sudan is to be restructured to reflect ethnic diversity in the country. The ten states should be allowed to employ and manage their own organise forces (e.g. police, prisons and game wardens). In addition, there must be strict control of arms; and all military installations/sites must be relocated at a minimum distant away from civilian areas.
iii. The military structure during the interim period:
It is proposed that the structure of the armed forces be reformed into the following four commands:
A national command with equal representation from the three former regions of South Sudan, namely Equatoria, Bahr el Gazal, and Upper Nile. The leadership command of the national Integrated Armed Forces shall be representative of the three regions.
Equatoria Division: commanded and composed of soldiers from Equatoria;
Bahr el Ghazal Division: commanded and composed of soldiers from Bahr el Ghazal; and
Upper Nile Division: commanded and composed of soldiers from Upper Nile.
In order to ensure that military power is not concentrated in the hands of one tribe or region to the detriment of the rest, it is important that future security arrangements and armed forces be divided into regional commands, with each of the three former regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal take control of their respective security forces (Figure 1).
(Figure 1: Proposed security arrangements in South Sudan)
This structure for reforming the national army should be implemented during the interim period.
Currently, the army is dominated by only two ethnic groups. Our country would not have been plunged into this devastating war had recruitment into national army was handled on the basis of proportional representation of all tribes across South Sudan.
As a matter of fact, the ongoing war initially started along ethnic dimension – Dinka vs Nuer- whereby revenge killings resulted in tremendous loss of lives from both sides.
To make sure this scenario does not repeat itself in the future, the formation of the new national army and security services must be formed on the basis of proportional representation among the three regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal.
iv. Return of all Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their places of origin:
As soon as the ongoing war ends, all IDPs and their cattle must return to their places of origin.
—– Their presence in Equatoria causes significant insecurity and intercommunal conflicts between IDPs and the indigenous communities; left unresolved this could ignite future conflicts.
—– IDPs have contributed adversely in community relation in South Sudan, especially in Equatoria. This is because most IDPs are involved in land grabbing issues, conspiracy to out-manoeuvre the indigenous population, oppressed them and permanently occupy Equatorian land. ——– There is also the irreconcilable lifestyle difference between pastoralists’ ways of life of IDPs as compared to agricultural lifestyle of Equatorians.
v. Land issues:
Land laws should be reviewed to address respect for other people’s land. Acquisition of personal property(ies) including land must be carried out in a rightful and legitimate manner; by seeking consent of the rightful owners.
vi. Human rights:
We commend the efforts of the African Union Human Rights Commission for investigating possible human rights abuses in South Sudan. Furthermore, we appreciate the efforts and determination of the former President of Nigeria, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, for conducting investigation into atrocities committed, human rights violations, destruction of properties, other war crimes and their perpetrators. We therefore urge the chairman of IGAD to ensure the release of this report with immediate effect.
We believe that this report holds the key to bringing those implicated in committing the atrocities and other war-related crimes to face justice. We also urge IGAD plus to follow through the implementation of all recommendations in that report.
vii. Implementation of the UN Security Council sanctions
We thank the UN and its various agencies for their humanitarian support for the suffering people of South Sudan, the IDPs, those in UNMISS compounds and those in neighbouring countries.
We would also like to join other concerned members of the international community in supporting the UN Security Council resolution 2206 (2015) for immediate imposition of targeted sanctions against individuals and entities who are seen to be obstructing the peace process, and those responsible for committing war crimes.
The governance problems facing the Republic of South Sudan can be summarised as follows:
Tribal domination of the country by one tribe: The three organs of the state (judiciary, executive, and legislation) are dominated by the same tribe; the security organs are also dominated by the same tribe; and the country is slowly moving towards tribal hegemony.
Human rights abuse: The killings of civilians are not addressed; there is rampant injustice with impunity.
Corruption: The citizens are witnessing looting of state resources; and there is lack of accountability for loss of those national resources.
Structure of states in the Country: The structure of the state needs to be reviewed to determine the viability of the current ten states versus the 3 former regions (Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile), and the recently proposed 21 states by SPLM-IO.
Type of Leadership: The limitation of current leadership is the focus on positions, and ruling by decrees. We need to identify the systems of Federalisms that best suits independence of each regions/state in the country.
viii. Federal system of Governance: Federalism should be adopted as the system of governance in South Sudan.
Given the ethnic diversity and divergent political aspirations, coupled with vastness, remoteness and poor infrastructure in the country; the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) needs to adopt a new model of governance – FEDERALISM.
Under the present government, power and resources have been concentrated at central level leaving states and counties with limited abilities to exercise real local governance; to influence development, enforce laws and maintain security. Given that the current status quo is not working well, and therefore unacceptable, the interim period is a good time to pilot Federalism, which will be ratified in the permanent constitution.
We, the Equatorian community in the UK, add our voice to the call for federalism. This is because a genuine federal system will enable separation of powers between levels and organs of the government. This needs to be included in the peace agreement to be implemented by the proposed interim government of national Unity.
ix. Develop and adopt a shared vision for South Sudan:
As South Sudan is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious country, its existence as a just, united, peaceful and prosperous country will depend on recognition of the people of Equatoria and other ethnic minorities as equal stakeholders in the forthcoming peace talks. Strong foundation for nation building in South Sudan will only be realised if our leaders consider shared vision and responsibility for all the tribes in the country.
x. Inclusive Government:
All the 64 tribes must be represented in all the national institutions (Executive, Legislature, and the Judiciary). Proportional representation of all minority groups must be clearly outlined in the future constitutional review.
xi. Corruption & employment policies:
New employment policies need to be developed and adopted that will ensure adherence to equal opportunities in all government institutions. Laws against discrimination need to be enacted and there should be transparency in recruitment and appointment of public service officials, and the security sector. Employment must be based on merit where the best person for the job must be recruited.
Financial probity and accountability for the national resources must be instilled in all Government Institutions. This should be legally enforced.
The International community, including TROIKA, EU and other countries must exercise their influence to ensure that the financial support they give to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan are properly accounted for. As Diaspora community, we contribute through the tax system in funding the financial aid to South Sudan, and therefore we too demand assurance that our tax payers’ money is being used for the intended purpose.
xii. The Presidency:
Given that the current conflict has directly implicated President, Salva Kiir Mayardiit and former Vice President, Dr Riak Machar, – both leaders have failed the nation; hence they should step aside from leading the Transitional Government of National unity (TGNU) during the interim administration.
A new leader must be selected from one of the minority tribes in South Sudan, as a neutral figure to bring South Sudan together.
Equatoria has a track record of unifying the people of South Sudan and we therefore recommend an Equatorian to be tasked with the responsibility of leading the country during the interim period as President.
To avoid the issue of ethnic domination of the country in the future, consideration should be given in the permanent constitution to ensure that no President of the country serves more than two terms or 10 years. Term limits for the President must be 2 terms of 4 or 5 years, which cannot be changed by parliament, but by a referendum.
Secondly, the presidency must rotate among the three greater Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Gazal regions.
xiii. Elections: There should be free and fair elections after the interim period.
xiv. Chiefs: The traditional role of chiefs should be restored and recognised in the constitution. It has to be made clear that the chiefs are accountable to the people rather than the Government.
The present constitution of South Sudan was written by the SPLM within the framework of the CPA and do not represent the principles and norms of an independent state. We therefore condemn it and call upon the forthcoming interim government to organise a constitutional conference for all stakeholders to review it and come up with a permanent constitution that is grounded on certain principles and norms agreed upon by all South Sudanese to form the backbone of governance and the supreme laws of an independent South Sudan.
In conclusion, we welcome the expansion of IGAD to IGAD-plus and we hope that you will now try to deliver the much needed peace for the suffering people of South Sudan. To realise this, we call upon the inclusion of all stakeholders, especially Equatorians in the forthcoming negotiation.
Federico Awi Vuni
Chairman, Adhoc Committee,
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org