By: Abraham Deng Lueth, USA, MAY/22/2014, SSN;
The ongoing peace negotiations in Addis Ababa have seen several difficulties that are caused by the confusions and misunderstandings regarding the positions of different stakeholders in the talks. In this article, I want to highlight those positions, their possible shifts, depending on the negotiation processes and the aggressors who capitalize on violence as a solid means to achieve a peaceful settlement.
Right from the onset of the conflict, it is clear that the government was the aggressor. The fatal decisions that have been made and most predominantly, the cunning use of the December 15 presidential guards’ incident as a coup incident and the subsequent decisions that took place after that started and escalated the conflict to its high peak are key evidences of the government as an aggressor or cause of the conflict in the country.
Currently, the government has taken a position that provides hope for South Sudanese. It does not seem to be the aggressor at the moment; something that, if it was observed in the beginning of the conflict, we would have ended up with a much better outcome today.
Dr. Riek’s decision to launch a rebellion after the facts of December 15 helped further the already escalated violence in the country. Dr. Riek’s decision might have been necessitated by a couple of reasons.
One, it might have been the fact that a plan (as evidenced in the attack on his home) to capture or kill him was launched and that he had to protect himself. Secondly, he might have consciously figured it out that the only way his colleagues (the former detainees) would be released was to stage a military confrontation (a fight back as opposed to surrender) in order to pressure the release of the detainees.
What Riek Machar did to take up arms was a self defense rebellion (though he fabricated it to test overthrowing President Kiir) and that is understandable —- it is a human nature.
Had he kept it to that without going rampant on killing innocent people (Bor, Akobo, Malakal and Bentiu) in an attempt to revenge for his tribal people killed in Juba, the ex-detainees could have possibly come out of the prison and joined him, both on the negotiating table and in the frontline, because he would have been fighting a just war.
I still believe that Dr. Riek, in terms of political stand, is an ally to his former colleagues. Some of the housekeeping things that he needs to do in order to get himself closer to his colleagues are: one, stop being an aggressor when it comes to violence.
Second, completely commit to what he was asking for on December 6 which is dialogues through peaceful means, now happening in Addis Ababa. He needs to go out everywhere his rebel soldiers and support bases are and educate them on the need for peaceful settlement to the conflict.
His supporters need to understand now that government is willing to resolve the conflict through peaceful dialogues; the opposition must respond positively because that is what South Sudanese people need and what the opposition needed, in the first place, before the December 15 crisis.
They need to understand that peacefully ending the conflict does not let go President Kiir but in fact, it speeds up the process for justice for people killed in Juba and as well as those killed in Akobo, Bor, Bentiu and Malakal.
The Former Detainees
While they were exercising their political rights on December 6, they were victimized by the power holders. They were calling for reforms and whatever happened on December 15 should have been contained as an isolated incident to be investigated and addressed.
While it is important to note that Dr. Riek’s rebellion is against what the ex-detainees and Dr. Riek, himself, originally stood for on December 6, it is equally important that the ex-detainees recognize that Dr. Riek was pushed into rebellion.
As long as Dr. Riek abandons his rebellion, the former detainees should remain his allies in the quest for peace in the country.
Leaving Dr. Riek alone, even when he abandons hostilities, is a clear betrayal in the eyes of many members of the rebellion and it does not bring a just peace but a fake one (one with grudges embedded among people). It does not unite the people of South Sudan.
Therefore, I see it absolutely important for peace for the ex-detainees to maintain their position of being for reforms as well as recognizing that the rebellion of Riek Machar was enforced on him and that they should kindly ask him to put down his guns and join them in the quest for meaningful reforms.
The detainees are up for grab by any of the two groups; the government and rebels, depending on which group positions itself as the aggressor. Any one of these two warring parties that positions itself as an aggressor and impedes the negotiation processes will risk losing the detainees alliance because their defining stand is a democratic change in the country through nonviolent ways.
Otherwise, as long as the warring parties maintain to push for war or try to win on the ground through military victory, the former detainees should continue to remain a third block because that is truly who they are and they should work with regional and international leaders to continue to pressure the warring parties to abandon war and negotiate a settlement to the crisis.
They represent two important things; reforms through nonviolence and also a just peace where all the things that went wrong are recognized and people forgive each other and chart a better foundation for the nation.
The Civil Society and the Church
These are concerned South Sudanese civil society organizations that want to see the end to the conflict, however, it started. These are South Sudanese peoples’ representatives in the talks. They are our watchdogs that make sure whatever is being agreed to and signed is in the best interest of South Sudanese people.
They should also make us understand who is stubborn and is impeding progress in the talks through their campaigns for peace. They should organize rallies and meetings to educated South Sudanese people on the progress being made and the challenges in the talks.
At the end of the day, we need a just peace that provides for strategic directions for truth and reconciliation, assures justice and accountability for the crimes committed and above all, sends our nation back to its firm stand as one nation, undivided, under God.
Accountability for the war crimes committed is a task after peace. It does not have to hold the nation hostage. It is a matter of revisiting, after peace is achieved, different findings by the UN, AU, South Sudanese different organizational bodies and analytical commentators and asking the international community to help in the process of delivering justice.
Therefore, let’s us secure our peace, first.
On a separate note:
The people of Jonglei who had become victims of David Yau Yau now have the opportunity to file a lawsuit to take him to court and have him to answer for the crimes he committed. He must not be allowed to get away with those crimes. END