By Prof. Simon El hag Kulusika
OPINION, JNAUARY 19TH (SUDANS POST) – Reacting to growing violence in South Sudan, UK, USA and Norway, issued a Statement, published in London, on 16 December, 2022. The three States are called Troika under the Revitalized Peace Agreement (RPA), 2018 for South Sudan. The RPA 2018 aims at ending armed conflicts in South Sudan. The Troika are tasked to ensure compliance with the terms of the RPA 2018 by signatories to it and other armed groups in South Sudan. Those aims remain elusive, as the recently reported violence in other areas of South Sudan, in particular Upper Nile and Jonglei states would seem to show.
In the recent violence in Upper Nile and Jonglei states, the Troika’s statement deplored escalation in violence the “killings, homes and Livelihoods Destroyed and burned.” And over 50,000 civilians displaced. The Troika held the politico – military leaders of South Sudan, responsible for the escalation of violence. Its statement declared, “It’s clear that South Sudan’s transitional leaders bear a share of responsibility for the escalation of this violence, and primary responsibility for ending it.”
Violence that has been reported from Upper Nile and Jonglei states are not novel phenomena. South Sudan has witnessed such violence in the past. And may continue to see more deadly violence. Unless, measures are taken to ending this violence. The measures should be community – based, not imposed by the use of force. Community – based measures that will lead to enduring peace in South Sudan will require agreement between politico – military leaders of South Sudan, in which traditional leaders must be involved. And they must demonstrate commitment to intervene to prevent attacks by one group on another group as happened on 24 December, 2022. This took place after a group of Nuer youth was mobilized for unknown mission. Evidence that traditional leaders in the areas affected and the local and state authorities were aware of the potential attacks. But no preventive measures were taken, until it was too late.
In addition, traditional leaders should act to galvanizing the support of communities to see and agree on peaceful co – existence of the diverse ethnic groups in those instable areas, and in South Sudan as a whole. To achieve these aims, the root causes resulting in violence must be addressed and resolved. Eg, questions must be raised and answered: why did the Nuer youth decide to mobilize and to attack Murle ethnic group? Definitely, there must be reasons, causes, or other scapegoating.
Difficulties will be encountered where herders’ interests conflict: water and grazing lands scarcity. But these conflicts must be abridged in order to lay grounds for peaceful resolutions, terminating, or minimizing the frequency and intensity of communities’ clashes.
The Condominium government and successive governments in Khartoum failed to end, or to contain violence in Southern Sudan. Because, punitive expeditions were adopted as quick measures to end violence. But those mechanisms failed miserably. As the groups that were targeted to be pacified were transformed into aggrieved groups determined to counter violence by violence. The recent events in Upper Nile and Jonglei would seem to confirm a repetition of the past failed measures. There’s need to rethink those strategies and invent new ones that may prove effective in the resolution of ethnic, or communities’ conflicts.
LET OUR LEADERS TRY THE FOLLOWING:
- the politico – military leaders and traditional leaders should agree that it’s their primary responsibility to bring peace to South Sudan, by ending all kinds of violence across South Sudan. Each leader, assisted by experts in conflicts resolution, or management, to come up with proposals regarding ending violence in the country.
- proposals must be manageable. They should investigate the causes of violence, including cattle Rustling and encroachment on ancestral lands of other ethnic groups, and the search for water. The investigation should enable the leaders to advance creditable proposals for ending the violence.
- each leader should also address the impediments that the RPA 2018 are facing. How those obstacles could be removed as they seem to be the major contributory factors for the current state of lawlessness.
- sensitization campaigns amongst different communities should be launched as ways of reducing tensions, fears, hatred that could lead to unrest and violence. This is the task of the governors and traditional leaders, with assistance from the national government.
- if clashes were brought to an end, the state(s) authorities, including traditional leaders, in question should conduct investigations to establish facts. In order to facilitate taking of appropriate administrative, legal, or remedial actions. To give warnings to trouble makers, that their misdeeds would visit them.
The transitional leaders and armed groups should reach understanding to bring situation in Upper Nile and Jonglei states under control. To prevent escalation of violence.
Attention should focus on delivery of humanitarian assistance to the more than 9.4m civilians who are in need of aid before some areas become inaccessible, due to rains and possible floods. Such aids should also be extended to cover areas outside Upper Nile and Jonglei states. Where people are facing near starvation. The delivery of aids should include the delivery of vital services in the fields of health, Vet services and education.
CREATION OF COMMUNITY PEACE CORP
The President as Commander – in – Chief should decree the establishment of what this article calls as Community Peace Corp, yellow helmets. The mission of this Corp is to respond to any community, ethnic, group tensions that may threaten the tranquility, lives, property, or peaceful co – existence in any areas of South Sudan. At the formation stage the Corp should comprise a modest number of fighters, a Brigade size. The units of the Corp should be deployed and stationed in the capitals of each state: Central state 250 men and women; Western Equatoria 250; Western Bahr El Ghazal 350; Warrap 500; Eastern Equatoria 650; Northern Bahr Ghazal 300; Unity 600; Lakes 700; Jonglei 800; Upper Nile 750. The commanding officer of a unit should come ideally from one of the major ethnic groups in the state. The size of troops varies taking into account volatility of each state and the presence of risks of clashes between communities, or ethnic groups.
The provisional command duties of the Corp should be undertaken by a Colonel, based in Juba, who is conversant with conflicts and peace matters. He/she should be accountable to the Commander of the Presidential Guard. But, the Corp should in future have a separate Command – Division, under a Maj. Gen, or Brigadier general, as the case may be. The officers and soldiers of the Community Peace Corp should be trained to understand that their mission is to restore, maintain, sustain peace amongst the citizens of South Sudan anywhere in South Sudan. When they are responding to crisis situation their approaches are dialogue, amicability, reconciliation and peaceful co – existence. Not to use force, or fire power except in self – defense. Where appropriate, force should be applied to separate the antagonistic groups.
The Corp should be equipped with advance communication devices, all weather uniforms and footwears. Better military hardware. It should have a robust intelligence unit. The Corp is not to be called up to quell riots, or violent demonstrations, or protests.
Responding to community unrest, or ethnic tensions, by means that amount to fighting, by the use of force, will only aggravate the already tense situation. Any aggrieved side attacked as the aggressor will provoke resentment of the government, and may encourage revenges and counter revenges. Vicious incidents of that sort, do not promote peace, healing and reconciliation. The use of force should be discarded as it failed in the past.
As the statement of the Troika loudly calls, “An enduring, nation – wide peace is the only way to address South Sudan’s appalling human rights and humanitarian situation.” Yes, the revitalized peace agreement (2018) must be revisited, revised and expanded to bring within its new look, and ambit all politico-military organizations, political parties and armed groups. Inclusiveness should be the driving machinery to bring lasting peace to South Sudan. And through it, South Sudan should be able to rise above ethnic, or communities’ animosity and hatred.
The author is a professor of law at Zambia Open University. Reach him via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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