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Viewing the dreadful saga right in the eye! By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
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Jan 9, 2010 - 11:58:41 AM

Viewing the dreadful saga right in the eye!  

 

By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.

 

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that brought an end to the two decades of civil war between the northern and the southern Sudanese is coming to its end just one year from now. Is that good news or a bad one? You can answer that for yourselves.

 

It can no longer be denied that the fear of the unknown    has   for all practical reasons   shadowed   the 5th anniversary of an agreement once considered by the signatories as a comprehensive and with high hopes that it could be    used   to solve the other regional crisis in both the Western and the Eastern parts of the country.

 

The SPLM and the NCP signed the agreement with serious intensions of bringing about peace to south Sudan as well as maintaining the unity of the country per the CPA. At this juncture    they should be ready to face the fact that    their work is about to be put to test through the referendum for self-determination scheduled for 9th January 2011, barely one year from now.

 

However let us be serious to accept the fact that both sides haven’t been good enough at    implementing the agreement.

 

This blame also goes to those members of the international community who helped in brokering the CPA as they left the entire implementation to the Sudanese who wouldn’t have signed any peace deal to start with had it not been for the intensive foreign mediations.

 

But as to    how     the    deal (CPA), has failed to provide the expected peace in southern Sudan will form the theme of this paper.   To address this crucial preposition, we ill need to be strict with our words and a spade should rightly be called a spade.

 

The government of south Sudan (GoSS) that intentionally or not, started with the wrong people in the wrong positions, decided to give responsibilities of running a region the size or Texas or France, and just coming out of a protracted civil war, to much ill trained and inexperienced people, remains largely in the heart of the mess that came to follow.

 

Those high expectations that attached to the CPA were themselves the      creation of the inexperienced leaders and they in turn failed to realize the tough times ahead. And as a result, all that we have now are frustrations over unfulfilled dreams, as it turned out that our neo-liberators had over estimated their real abilities.

 

Appointments to offices were largely based on    ethnic backgrounds and especially bent to appease former comrades in arms many of whom have been out of contact with any technical, administrative or planning roles for quite a long period.

 

Let us face it, now that our public service has to go through a lot of trial and error. This same thing applied to the other vital government departments, and as a result we not only started the GoSS with in experienced people but also with people who are non existent (ghost names in their thousands).

 

Our present day army remains to suffer from the lack of fair    representation of the whole southern community. However our people deserve to be commended for accepting it all this time as a symbol of our national unity, while looking forwards for a reform.

 

We shouldn’t wrongly assume that the same people who fought the war would be rightly the best to occupy    the sensitive positions while we have other better qualified citizens who can make a better disciplined conventional army.

 

Much reform is needed to recruit the best from the other sections of our society who with the right training can add the missing element of inclusion to our national institutions, thus removing the tribal tags currently attached across our ministries, missions, embassies etc.

 

By experts’ judgement, the GoSS needs besides embarking on the peacefully disarmament of the civilians, it should also do more to improve its public service, the army and law enforcement agents (police, prisons, customs, wildlife etc).

 

The much needed reform  can be cost effectively done only by recruiting young people from across our diverse communities who are educated enough to respond well to   the high standards of training deemed to  qualify them in order  to salvage our communities from the incumbent  inter-tribal disharmonies and other governance irregularities.

Our government must be warned against any over spending on the training of the current ill disciplined, mostly alcoholics, corrupt , tribalistic and uneducated persons who at the present  overcrowd our  national institutions ( the army, police, customs, wildlife and other security organs).

 

As a staggering economy, south Sudan should understand the value of its limited resources. To embark on any ambitious programme which involves    money on training incompetent individuals will definitely not constitute proper investment.  

 

Our selection criteria must be reviewed otherwise our efforts will be a waste because the present setting is already     compromised by the massive tribal settlements that took place between the previous warlords and ethnical loyalists.

 

It    must be honestly understood that the future of south Sudan will only be glamorous in the existence of institutions that can pride themselves of wider ethnical and political inclusiveness.

 

Today our SPLA soldiers    wherever they go to carry out their duties in the different parts of south Sudan, they have sadly all through been received as a tribal army and were treated as such, thus negatively impacting on their missions.

 

The recent events that followed the failed attempt at disarming of civilians at the Payam of Akot, in the Lakes State, are some examples of situations where SPLA soldiers were viewed at from their tribal backgrounds and not as equal nationals.

 

The Akot incidence which is sad in all its totality is but a    repetition of similar events that occurred before in other places like Jonglei and Upper Nile in 2009. These things can still happen again any time and without any reforms, our army and law enforcement agents will remain to be perceived by our citizens as agents that promote narrow tribal interests.

 

This whole issue may sound very distasteful to some of us who always prefer to bury their heads in the sand when sensitive issues of national interest and magnitude are aired.

 

It is a recognised and a well known fact that we south Sudanese seem only to    unite in our   resistance to the north and our quest for secession.

 

However our hatred to the policies of the north which we all know that we are doing for a right reason, is not enough because  our destiny requests of us, and  most importantly at this particular time in our struggle,  that we treat  each other as south Sudanese and not as Latukas, Dinkas, Nuers Azandes ….etc..

 

Our current state of affairs is not what one can be proud of. We seem to relentlessly    more bend towards tribal affiliations far more than we respect our southern Sudanese nationalism.

 

 

Would the outside world be wrong should they think of us as a bunch of poor people, who are only driven by their natural instincts for survival into staging tribal and inter-clan fights that are now engulfing our communities?

 

So how many of you out there are willing to buy the above acclamation? Are the inter-tribal fights in south Sudan taking place between poor southerners as such or is it between people who own herds of cattle but are culturally bent to practise cattle raiding in the absence of effective law enforcement in our societies?

 

Cattle raiding by definition are an act of theft or robbery, not any decent culture to condone with. Child abduction is even worse.

 

We must come to terms that when we hear of cattle raid, it simply means that theft has taken place and law enforcement is needed to reclaim what were stolen.

 

The associated killings of human beings also remain a terrible crime deserving capital punishment. So basically what we are being made to live with as if it is some kind of a tribal tradition is in fact theft and murder, as simple as that. Whatever it all comes to, the GoSS has a responsibility to put things right.

 

The killing of 140 and wounding 90 in clashes between the Dinka Luac communities of Tonj East County of Warrap and armed groups from Unity State constitutes the latest of the dreadful sagas.

 

The Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar, said that development and civilian disarmament could put an end to all these tribal conflicts, while the GoSS Minister of Presidential Affairs, Luka Biong, said that that violence is mainly triggered by conflict on resources.

 

And both expressed that the government is exerting all efforts to end the tribal conflicts in the region.

 

Considering the two above statements, we can see that our government has in fact issued rather vague statements which looks at the long term settlements and that is the eradication of inter –tribal fights through development (avail resources) and effective disarmament of the civilian communities.

 

The former will obviously take time (possibly decades), while the latter can not be delayed, yet tricky to achieve even if ‘peacefully’ done.

 

So how practical is the SPLM led GoSS really  in position to bring an end to the called inter-tribal fighting given its realistic records or are our two politicians just saying what they have to say in order to   buy time in office?

 

GoSS may not necessarily accomplish all the above within the remaining 12 months of the CPA, deeming the recognition that H.E Salva Kiir, his deputy Riek Machar and Luka Biong Kuol all have failed to secure the south.

 

But obviously the “to be democratically elected”, government to come in April 2010, must make sure that it has in its priority the security of the south and the inter-tribal fights to deal with.

 

How many of you seriously think that the CPA will be derailed as a result the chronic poverty, inter-tribal tensions, lack of services and overall underdevelopment in south Sudan?

 

Can all the insecurities in the south ever result in the return to the north south war? Or can it in any way interfere with the crucial benchmarks like the general elections and the referendum?

 

Khartoum and Juba have already slammed the conclusions of the reports piled by the 10 NGOs that are currently working in south Sudan. And both reiterated their positions, that there is no going back to war.

 

So can those inter- tribal fights that make headlines in the foreign media, be rightly understood in the context of a breakdown in the social structures in many of the south Sudanese communities making them to loose control over their youth?

 

 Is it still possible for Khartoum and Juba to continue working together in tackling the remaining CPA provisions before the referendum in January 2011, thus preserve the hard won peace?

 

Or how are they going to justify that the NGOs, the Western Media are indeed over-reacting to the situations on the ground?

 

 It is understandable that those tribes who find themselves in the middle of the current mess and chaotic revelations would want to brand everything as mere struggles over scare resources, in a conscious attempt to avoid any tribal connotations.

 

However in the presence of the hard      facts where    women, children and the old are often targeted, clearly points towards an    ethnic cleansing agenda though still at its minimum, and shouldn’t be over looked, lest it grow into a full blown Rwanda.

 

The international community must be very clear about what it can do to improve the situation in south Sudan. The various tribes have history of conflicts that dates back to the war days.

 

No proper fact-finding, justice and reconciliation was considered by the ruling SPLM/A in a bit to bury its bad records of gross violations of humans rights in areas that was under its control.

 

It all went also to allow the other notorious militia groups currently incorporated into the SPLA amalgam to escape thorough weeding and the end result is an army stuffed with all kinds of criminal elements, only fit to operate as guerrillas.

 

We can however now see that insisting on depriving the south Sudanese population from an essential healing and forgiveness process, simply because we lack the courage to    confront our dirty pasts; we are    now collectively being forced to reap the fruits of hiding behind the CPA.

 

In conclusion, to tackle the inter-tribal fights first of all we need to have a robust police force that can respond promptly to any state of lawlessness.

 

Secondly the south Sudanese’s need to visit their past and see into their history as to how the tribes used to interact with each other with special respect to territorial rights with the intention of avoiding fights.

 

But above all, it is essential as a first to accept the psychological roots of the problem that springs from the tribal loyalties that have overtaken any sense of our southern nationalism when it comes to south - south issues.

 

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. The Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The party that stands for the independence of South Sudan. Can be reached at either [email protected] or [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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