KEEP EYES ON THE PEACE PROCESS
By Paul Jimbo
“The process of achieving peace is by no means an easy work; we know that no peace agreement has ever been perfect. There is no plan B, there is only plan A,” says Guang Cong, UNMISS Civil Affairs Director.
According to Mr Guang, the peace deal provides a fresh opportunity for the country to re-emerge from war and so the need for everyone in South Sudan to support the on-going peace implementation.
Furthermore we all appreciate the fact that the ceasefire provides another opportunity for citizens to engage peacefully at national and sub-national levels. This ushers in the aspect of the significance of national dialogue, which allows us the chance to engage directly and share views on peace as one people.
We should realise that we have a common history of conflict and this has been to our disadvantage. We should therefore focus our efforts in peace building process by ensuring we use lessons learned from our past challenges to build a stronger foundation for the future. National and regional dialogues have once again proved to be the best avenue for us to engage with each other.
During these dialogue forums, we get to understand one another and appreciate our strengths and weaknesses. We also get to correct ourselves. We openly spew out any venom that has previously worked against us, we speak candidly and openly about our past mistakes and accept to forgive one another and move on as a people.
The process of nationhood begins with forgiveness, love and respect for one another. Until we begin viewing each other as an equal brother or sister, all that we do in these dialogue forums might not bear fruits. There are all indications that all is going on well with the peace process despite the obvious challenges that we face including economic hardships.
Some of the key challenges that face the on-going implementation of the peace agreement include unification and cantonment of forces. From where is sit, monitors have kept on reporting some remarkable progress on the above issues. They tell me that troops and forces are moving into their designated sites and that there is real zeal in reporting to the cantonment sites.
This indeed is just good news bearing the fact that cantonment of forces has been one of the major sticky issues that prompted and triggered the six-month extension of the peace implementation period to November 12, 2019. As I said in some of my previous commentaries, I remain a sworn advocate for dialogue as a means of resolving any conflict.
I don’t believe in any sort of violence because I’m yet to be convinced of any advantages of a conflict to a country or an economy despite having been a student of Communication and Media studies. Dialogue simply demands for a heavy investment in trust and confidence building if parties to any deal or conflict are to make any remarkable or significant achievements.
If we embrace dialogue then we will definitely be on the path to reconciliation and national healing. We should therefore shun the culture of violence and embrace dialogue as an alternative route to achieving unity. Those hiding guns should surrender them voluntarily and if they fail to do so, should forcibly be made to do so.
We should realise that the six-month extended peace implementation period is quite an ample opportunity for us to get things right this time round. This also means that we should never squander the window of opportunity to fix the pending issues in the peace process. The six-month extension should be the last chance for us to promote and advocate for the formation of the Transitional government of national unity.
We should not delay it anymore and expect to secure another extension. Remember members of the public are key stakeholders in this process and their contribution and support for the peace process is what determines the level of good will and legitimacy of this peace process.
This means that any further delay in beating the November deadline might send a very wrong signal to the civilian populations who feel the pinch and bitter taste of the bad economic times. Their hopes are pegged on the formation of the new government, which should consequently lead them on the path to economic recovery. Any further delays might also cause fatigue, which is a disadvantage to the peace process.