Official Summary: South Sudanese in Sudan Demand Urgent End to Crisis in the CountryPress Release
Why has it taken long for the war in South Sudan to end at the watch of the very leaders who fought in the liberation struggle? This was the question on the lips of every stakeholder at the National Dialogue discussions in Khartoum.
More than four hundred stakeholders drawn from various South Sudanese communities residing in Sudan, converged at Grand Holiday Villa Hotel in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, from 10th -12th March 2018, to deliberate on the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan. They proposed some concrete suggestions for ending the crisis in the country.
According to UNHCR official records that were shared with the National Dialogue Subcommittee for Refugees and International Outreach, there are more than seven hundred thousand (700,000) South Sudanese living in 31 camps in the Sudan.
Khartoum also hosts a number of South Sudanese opposition leaders, and many of these leaders sent representatives to the National Dialogue discussions, where they gave their views on the South Sudan they want.
The atmosphere on the first day was full of emotions and anxiety as people freely expressed their disappointment and anger over the perceived reluctance of leaders from both sides of the political divide to allow the war to continue unabated.
South Sudanese living in Sudan, called on the government and the rebel leaders to borrow a leaf from countries that have gone through similar situations such as those seen in South Sudan, by burying the hatchets of hatred and commit to ending the prevailing conflict in the country.
The people living in Sudan say though they are living in deplorable conditions in the refugee camps in the Sudan, they are united as South Sudanese, and that they don’t entertain any notions of tribalism, which they say have completely eaten deep into the social fabric in South Sudan and rendered the citizens to worship their ethnic leaders and their tribes at the expense of the Republic of South Sudan.
The National Dialogue with the people in the Sudan has been very deliberative and the following are some of the identified root causes of the crisis in the country and proposed solutions:
Root causes of the current crisis
- Deadly power and wealth struggle among SPLM leaders: There’s a thinking in South Sudan that if you become the President then suddenly the wealth of the country belongs to you and this makes the SPLM leaders to scramble for the top job in the land, by inciting ethnic based violence
- The issue of dual citizenship: Dual citizenship undermines development and the search for peace in South Sudan, because according to them majority of the current ministers, advisors, governors and military generals have two nationalities and South Sudan is a fertile land for them to get jobs and they siphon the country’s money to their families outside and this makes the leaders reluctant to work for a better South Sudan.
- Runaway corruption: Constitutional post holders and senior military generals loot public resources at will, because they know nobody will follow them or ask them to account for their vices.
- Endemic insecurity: Those entrusted with the job of protecting the civil populations and their properties turn their guns against the very people they were mandated to protect. That people in uniform (organized forces) have become a threat to national security of the Republic of South Sudan, because they act in a way that does not match their mandate
- The unknown gunmen: Sponsors of unknown gunmen and their unknown gunmen in cities and along the roads in the country must be made known to the suffering people of South Sudan, who are living total despair because they don’t know where their help or protector will come from
- Tribalism, nepotism and favouritism. People in the Sudan strongly believe that ordinary citizens are not part of this game, but the preachers and promoters of tribalism otherwise known as the politicians are to blame for descending the country into abyss and anarchy.
- Poor governance and weak institutions: the country is going through this difficult period because public institutions are very weak and cannot address the issues of law and order, economy, security development.
- Poverty and over-dependency on relief food and imports: cattle raiding and inter-communal conflicts are to some extent caused by poverty since the people have been forced to adopt ‘‘survival for the fittest strategy.” Government is to blame for not putting in place programs for eradicating hunger and poverty.
- Formation of tribal militias by disgruntled politicians and generals: Mushrooming of tribal militias is fomenting ethnic based killings in the country
- IGAD Countries and the international Community: people alleged that neighbouring countries are benefiting from the conflict in South Sudan, since some of them have taken sides in the conflict and so they do not want a peaceful South Sudan. The asserted that South Sudan’s war is a lucrative business for IGAD member states and some countries in the west.
- Military versus politics: Stakeholders in the meeting pointed that the army officers are engaging in politics instead of observing military affairs in contravention of the supreme law of the country, the Constitution.
- Short-sighted leaders: People say with no vision from the country leaders, the country cannot move forward.
- Lack of freedom of expression: It’s extremely difficult for the citizens to criticize their leaders without being harassed, intimidated and even killed. In absence of conducive environment for free speech, civilians live in denial and fear to speak up to avoid any reprisal
- Adoption of democracy as the only means of power transfer in the country to stop wars
- Acceptance of Federalism as a system of governance in South Sudan, to ensure equitable development in all corners of the country
- Return to ten administrative states to help reunite the communities instead of dividing them into tribes, clans and sections as is currently the case
- Establishment of strong democratic institutions with clear separation of powers, with each independent of the other
- Disarmament countrywide to be carried out in the country to get rid of the illicit firearms in the hands of unauthorised persons
- Reset of foreign policies and adoption of balance approach to emerging issues in the world
- Ensure equal treatment of all communities in the country by the government
- Establishment of a welfare system similar to that in Scandinavian countries to cater for the needs of the vulnerable citizens
- Establishment of a ‘’National Development Fund’’ to advance timely and equal development of infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, railways, agriculture and tourism
- Channelling of government and private sector funds to develop education sector
- Enactment and strict implementation of modest financial policy, that deters unscrupulous officials from diverting public money for their own use
- Outlaw all tribal militias and make it a crime for anyone to form such criminal groups
- Establishment of one unified and professional army drawn from all the 64 communities in South Sudan, to avoid dominance of few tribes
- Enforce strict adherence to the rule of law so that nobody should be above the law and ensure equality of all before the law
- Ensure that the Constitution is truly a supreme law of the land that must be followed at all times by both the government and the citizens.
- Oil money should be used to fuel and advance agricultural growth in the country to encourage local production and discourage foreign imports
- Apply merits in employment in both the public and private sectors as opposed to current tribal and nepotistic hiring tendencies
- Usher in institutional reforms to guarantee peace and stability in the country
- End rivalry among English and Arabic speaking South Sudanese by building harmony and commonality between them
- Government machineries should open up space for free media, to help disseminate information to the public
- The stakeholders also condemned the stealing of money in the office of the President, which they say is shameful and undermines the credibility of the President and the independence of the country
- South Sudanese should cultivate a spirit of patriotism
- South Sudanese must discourage the culture of “I know it all” and should accept to listen and learn from one another
- Chiefs and traditional leaders should be empowered to settle disputes at local levels before they become a national disaster
- Enact a law that criminalizes tribalism to punish those that ask people their tribes
- Leaders with two nationalities must be denied taking up positions of leadership in South Sudan government to avoid conflict of interest
- That South Sudanese should all support every effort aimed at restoring peace in the country
- The stakeholders proposed that President Salva Kiir and FVP Taban Deng Gai should continue to guide the country until completion of the National Dialogue and implementation of its resolutions till the conduct of the general elections for peaceful transfer of power in a democratic manner. They say because the two leaders are part of the problems, they should also become part of the solution.
- Expression of scepticism about the viability of the High Level Revitalization Forum as tool for ending the war for suspicion that it’s a hub for political tourism
- That National Dialogue is a waste of time and resources
- That the merging of Raja with counties from Aweil is a cause of problems in that region and that Raja should be separated from Lol to break the cycle of conflict