Creation of South Sudan Army Will Bring Peace Between the SPLA and SSDF
Equatoria’s Solidarity International (ESI), Equatoria’s Professionals in Europe (EPE) and the Union of Nuer Community in North America UNCONA)
Jan, 23, 2007
The Nuer and Equatorian communities would like to advise Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and Gen. Gordon Koang to create a neutral army that would unite South Sudan Defense Force (SSDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The three communities applaud President Kiir for initiating dialogue with SSDF to unite the rank and file of the South in order to secure smooth implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
However, there are many barricades that need to be cleared to secure peace between the SPLA and the SSDF. The first thing is the need for the dissolution of both the SPLA and the SSDF. Both armies are currently militia armies that are loyal to political parties. The SPLA is an army of the SPLM party and its first loyalty is not to the South but SPLM. On the other hand, the SSDF is loyal to politicians who signed Khartoum Peace Agreement. Currently, South Sudan has no army since the SPLA and SSDF are private militias of politicians.
One of the reasons for the failure of Juba Declaration signed on Jan, 2006, was the inability of Lt. Gen. Paulino Matip and Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir to create a neutral army that is not loyal to any political party. The SPLA, despite the signing of Juba Declaration, is an army of the SPLM party. The SPLM leadership regards it as its army and uses it many times against the opponents of the SPLM. One incident was the arrest of a member of the Labor Party in Yie County last year due to orders given to SPLA by the leadership of the SPLM party. Another incident was the detention and torture of the members of the National Congress Party last November in Western Equatoria State under the orders of the SPLM party’s leadership. Members of political parties that oppose the SPLM have difficulty opening their offices in most South Sudan States because the SPLA is engaged in preventing their political activities because of undue influence of the SPLM party leadership on the SPLA army.
The interview of Lt. Gen. Matip on Juba Post Newspaper in November, 2006, is one of the instances that proved the SPLA as an army of the SPLM. In that interview, Gen. Matip warned political parties and civil society organizations that criticized the SPLM-led government to stop doing so. As the commander-in-chief of the SPLA, his words connote military threats against the opponents of the SPLM party. Although the Interim Constitution of the South calls for the separation of military from politics, the SPLA army pays no regard to this constitutional provision. Salva Kiir already appointed generals and colonels to political positions while they are still active in the army. For instance, Lt. Gen. Samuel Abujohn, the governor of Western Equatoria State, can order SPLA to arrest his political critics without taking into account the separation of powers between the military and political institutions. Another example is the arrest of the critics of Eastern Equatoria’s governor by the SPLA last year without due process as demanded by the interim Constitution of South Sudan. Opponents of SPLM throughout South Sudan are subject to unspeakable humiliations and torture under the SPLA army, which does not follow any civilized code of conduct simply because the army officers usually follow orders from SPLM’s leadership.
Taking into account the need for nation building, it is completely advisable that both the SPLA and the SSDF should be dissolved before 2008 election so that a neutral army is created that would not meddle in political affairs of Sudan. The current involvement of armed groups in politics—be it SPLA or SSDF—will prevent democratization in Sudan, particularly in the South. Since the SPLM leadership has so far been calling for dissolution of Popular Defense Force—which is a militia army of National Congress Party—it is equally important for both the SPLA and the SSDF to be dissolved in order to secure smooth separation of politics from the army. Since the SPLM leadership also regards Sudan Armed Force (SAF) as an army of the National Congress Party, it follows logically that Lt. Gen. Kiir would not have difficulty in dissolving the SPLA to pave the way for the creation South Sudan Army.
Following the formation of South Sudan Army, there are many tasks that the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and the Government of National Unity (GoNU) should do. First of all, all Nubians, Funj and other Northerners who are in the SPLA should go to North and join North Sudan Army. South Sudanese in SAF should then leave the North and join South Sudan Army. Such an exchange would legally secure smooth implementation of Ceasefire Protocol of the CPA which calls for non-Southerners to go to North and non-Northerners to go to South. The only exception is Abiey, i.e., people of Abiey in the SPLA army do not need to go to North since Abiey will exercise the right to self-determination as stipulated in the CPA.
We call on Lt. Gen. Kiir and Gen. Gordon Koang to sign a peace agreement that would ensure separation of politics from the army; otherwise, democratization of the South the CPA calls for would not be realized. If SPLA and SSDF remain as militia armies of political groups, the coming election would not guarantee peace in the South but war between rival political parties. There will be assassinations among politicians as it happened in South Africa before Nelson Mandela won election if both the SPLA and the SSDF are not dissolved. Based on current events in the South, a political party which has no armed militia would not campaign peacefully unless SPLA is dissolved and a neutral army created.
Dr. Luka Odiong, chair of EPE
Victor Charles Adeba, Spokesman of ESI
John Gatluak Kam, President of UNCONA
For contact: Dr. Luka Odiong at [email protected]