National dialogue is the best solution to the conflict
By Martin Manyiel Wugol
South Sudan Youth Forum in Uganda on National Dialogue (SSYFUND) is a South Sudanese youth owned initiative recently established in Kampala in response to calls made by President Salva Kiir in search of everlasting peace.
The possibilities of achieving peace through the national dialogue and reconciliation have already started here in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
On 14th December, 2016, President Kiir announced a national dialogue with the aim to end all violent conflicts. That is why he reconstituted the national consensus in order to save the country from disintegration and usher in a new era of peace, stability and prosperity. Despite challenges in the formation of the National Dialogue as announced by the President, it is a milestone in the history of conflict resolution in the country.
The is meant to bring about peaceful settlement of the current conflict going on in the country simply because there is no military solution to end the war but meaningful dialogue will find everlasting and durable solution to the conflict.
There is no handy roadmap for reconciliation and there is no short cut or simple prescription for healing the wounds and divisions of a society in the aftermath of violence than welcoming simple and peaceful means to solve conflict amongst the communities in the country to create trust and understanding between former enemies.
It is however, essential to address the process of building a lasting peace by examining the painful past, acknowledging its negativity and understanding it, and above all transcending it together is the best way to guarantee harmony and tranquility.
Our experience is that each community knows how to reconcile by getting its own route to reconciliation. Thus, reconciliation cannot be imposed by outsiders nor can someone else’s work it out to determine our destination. It must be our own solution though it may be a painful journey which has already been started by the members of SSYFUND to address the pain and suffering of the victims, understanding the motivations of offenders, bringing together estranged communities, trying to find a path to justice, truth and ultimately peace and prosperity to save the ruined social fabric particularly in the context of the history and culture in question.
While modern concept of criminal justice as found in western liberal ideas is rooted in understanding of crime as individual responsibility, in our context as citizens, it is not the case. Crime is seen as the community responsibility which makes it extremely hard to prosecute individuals accused of having committed crimes without risking causing more divisions within the country.
Hence, the solution found in criminal justice does not serve our purpose but what we need is peace and nation building, unity among South Sudanese. Members of South Sudanese youth in Uganda have welcomed the National Dialogue and reconciliation as the most appropriate approach to achieving permanent peace, and nation building for all citizens regardless of their tribes or political affiliation.
Peace and reconciliation is a long term process and it must and will continue for many years to come. Second to it, truth is at the heart of reconciliation. This is because reconciliation aims at finding out the truth about the horrors of the past and how to ensure that they never happen again. It is the central significance of reconciliation and without it people have no sense of safety, no trust and no confidence in the future.
The main objective of SSYFUND is to assess the possibilities of achieving peace and justice through the national dialogue and reconciliation to forgive ourselves and move forward as people of one country.
In order to do that this National Dialogue should include an examination of the entire process of national reconciliation as it was conducted in South Africa and Rwanda and other neighboring countries which should be the case study for our purpose.
The reason for selecting the two countries as referred to above is because they faced violent conflict but approached the conflict resolution through peaceful approach whereas the approach used to resolve conflict in South Africa was looked at as political violence and which was solved through political settlement, which did not call for individual criminal responsibility, in Rwanda conflict resolution approach through hybrid court to resolve conflict one and for all.
What should be done if successful national dialogue is to be held briefly, if national dialogue is to be conducted successfully, the following aspect must be taken into consideration?
First, there is a need to begin the national dialogue with political process, which means permanent ceasefire should bring the desired result which is comprehensive and inclusive. That means the government should reunite with the Former Detainees and also request the international community or regional body to talk with the oppositions to unite under one umbrella to give national dialogue a chance in the country.
Bringing oppositions under one umbrella is important because it narrows down the differences and ensures that oppositions are united in negotiating ceasefire. Second to it, after the parties have negotiated ceasefire, they will further go on to agree on how the national dialogue should be conducted by setting the terms of reference.
Finally the root causes examine the extent to which justice for the victims is to be integrated into the national reconciliation and peace process and their implications for the success of the national dialogue will be much needed.
A member of the youth forum in Uganda, Mr. Daniel Juol Nhomgek believes that for a national dialogue to be successful, it must take into account the issues of reconciliation and justice which are vital in achieving lasting peace.
For that reason, there is a need for the youth to take part in the national dialogue so that their views are taken into account as they are the victims of the ongoing conflict in the country. In that respect the members of SSYFUND agreed that they must maintain neutrality so that they contribute objectively to the national dialogue.
In this regard, SSYFUND leadership have planned to make consultation with the key institutions responsible for protection and promotion of human rights, which include the office of the President of the Republic of South Sudan, the leaders of South Sudan in and outside the country should willingly listen to voices of the people.