Diversified Ethnic Representation in National Politics Contributes towards Peace and Stability
A glimpse of observation reveals inadequate representation of minority ethnic groups in the national politics. For unconvincing grounds, the political elites running the government machinery at the national level of our country have persistently continued to perpetuate political and administrative structures favoring only certain ethnic groups (categorized as majority in terms of population) and other few opportunistic individuals who unpatriotically participated actively alongside the Government of Sudan in its genocidal war against South Sudan that ended with the signing of the CPA in 2005.
What are the implications of the policy of excluding ethnic minorities on peace and stability of the country? There are highly qualified, competent, honest, integral, peaceful and patriotic personalities who belong to the minority ethnic groups in our country. Sideling those qualified ethnic minorities from key points of decision-making at the national institutions not only helps generate a feeling of hopelessness, neglect and detachment from the nation but also deprives the country from utilizing their useful potential skills in the promotion of social, political, economic and cultural development.
The author comes from the Lokoya ethnic group, one of the many minority groups that are seeking inclusion in key national institutions of government. Precisely, with its huge contributions in the liberation wars and good number of competent technocrats, the Lokoya ethnic group is languishing at the peripheral boundaries of the key national institutions like the executive, legislature and the judiciary. Such unceasing deprivation of minorities from active participation in national politics raises a number of objective questions: why are minorities being excluded from national politics at the moment? Why their voices were loudly heard during the liberation wars?
Logically, both the minority and majority groups equally contributed in the liberation struggle. Therefore, they should equally enjoy the dividends of the liberation struggle. The theory that the majorities should always prevail over the minority in all aspects of life, even when it comes to employment opportunities requiring merit and technical competence has not found acceptance in the world of scholars. Nor is there room for the theory that minorities or majorities have to dominate the politics and administration of a country because of playing a distinguished role in the liberation history of the nation.
Majoritarian theory is a major root cause of the conflict in South Sudan. As long as it is being pursued unabatedly by the political elites, the probability that the country is moving towards a credible permanent peace and stability seems to be far from being reached. The majorities appear to be hardening their position by frustrating any genuine efforts geared towards compromise. Equally true, the minorities are strengthening their position by pushing the majorities to a common ground of understanding. Rapidly moving in opposite directions, both actions of these opposing groups may negatively impact the peace building process in the whole country in the absence of significant regional and international political leverage.
Political elites, why advocating majoritarian policy on one hand, and pursuing national dialogue on the other? We all aspire for the success of the national dialogue in meeting its declared objectives, but how do you expect that to happen when majority ethnic groups are not actively participating in the governance of our country at the national level? Don’t you think that the outcome of the national dialogue will only reflect the perspectives of the majority ethnic groups? The minority views are equally instrumental in the success of the national dialogue. Unless they are physically sharing key institutions with the majority at the national level, their voices will remain unheard, and this is detrimental in the search for permanent peace, justice, security and stability.
The author strongly believes that introduction of Multinational federalism in South Sudan enables minority and majority ethnic groups to share power and coexist peacefully at the national government. Multinational federalism is a tool of political integration capable of effectively managing ethnic diversity and defusing conflict through granting autonomy or self-determination to ethnic groups and ensuring that these groups are represented in the central institutions of government. Sharing a national government enhances the ability of minority and majority groups to coexist harmoniously in a peaceful and united state.
Moreover, multinational federalism strengthens the feeling of non-majorities and inculcates in them a spirit of solidarity and a sense of belonging to the state, thus contributing to peace, security and stability of the nation. Evolution of the spirit of solidarity and a sense of belonging to the state is the basis of nation-building. Hence, if we are to build a united, prosperous “supper nation” out of our different ethnic groups or nationalities, then we have to go for multinational federal solutions with a view to expanding local governments and limiting creation of homogenous states in order to strengthen national unity.
In other words, we need to concentrate on establishing heterogeneous states and homogenous local government institutions (counties). However, in a situation where an ethnic group finds it difficult to peacefully coexist with its counterparts, due to bitter unhealed historical traumas, then it is genuine to create a homogenous state for that ethnic group for the time being, while making arrangements to merge it with other groups under one state in the long-run.
My brothers, political elites at the national government, the right time to call a spade a spade has come. We need to stop the suffering of our people with immediate effect through adoption of multinational federalism that guarantees a diversified ethnic representation in the national politics, which in turn, will contribute to permanent peace, stability and genuine unity in our country. Either we go for “multination state” free from majority tyranny or face more serious divisions that will not only threaten our national unity they will also have a far reaching negative impact on our economy and socio-cultural cohesion. God bless those political elites who will respond positively to the author’s call for introduction of multinational federalism as a mechanism for acquiring a “diversified ethnic representation in the national politics”! Amen.
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