Opinion

Truth Empowers – Congratulations to President Kiir, Dr. Machar

By Christopher Sebit

sebitomini@gmail.com

Being one of the peace activists and a concerned local government officer, the author received, with tears of joy and pain, the breaking news about Khartoum Declaration of agreement between the parties to the conflict in South Sudan. Based on Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed on the 21st Decembers 2017, the Declaration calls for permanent ceasefire within 72 hours as from the 27th June 2018. Excellent President Kiir and Dr. Machar. The author is relieved of war trauma to some extent. Go forward to strike a final deal. The author supports you fully without slightest reservation.

The Declaration provides for disengagement and separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of allied forces, opening of humanitarian corridors and release of prisoners of war and political detainees. The Declaration stresses that all relevant provisions of the ARCSS shall apply; IGAD and African Union member states are to deploy the necessary forces to supervise the agreed permanent ceasefire; security arrangements shall aim at building national army, police and other security organs of an all-inclusive character that shall be free from tribalism and ethnic affiliations; policies for the disarmament of civilians should be agreed upon; agreement on the Revised Bridging Proposal shall be concluded as soon as possible before closing the current Khartoum round of talks; after concluding the agreement on the Revised Bridging Proposal, a pre-transitional period of 120 days shall commence to be followed by a transitional period of 36 months; and power sharing during the transitional period shall be in accordance with the formula that shall be agreed in the Revised Bridging Proposal.

A credit to president Kiir and Dr. Machar for excellent work you have done. The author disagrees with those writers who portray you as problems. Unknowingly, some of your actions as leaders might have contributed negatively to the conflict, but that does not tantamount to equating both of you to a problem. A good conflict resolution strategy does not see the parties to the conflict as problems but rather it concentrates on analyzing the problem with a view to arriving at “win-win” solution. IGAD’s decision to place Dr.  Riak Machar under house arrest in South Africa was in line with the assumption that he was a stumbling block on the road to peace, and therefore, putting him under confinement was seen as the most appropriate and surest way to quickly stop violence and reach peaceful settlement of the conflict. This is an elusive thinking. The confinement of Dr. Machar neither stopped violence nor facilitated the attainment of peace. The truth was that the war got intensified with the emergence of new armed groups.

The resort to face-to-face talks between president, Kiir and Dr. Machar is a realization by IGAD of the need to separate the person from the problem. Yes, the problem can be caused by a person, but we should avoid looking at the person as a problem when working for the solution. Assuming that the person who causes the conflict dies and heinous war crimes were committed by his supporters, can these war crimes go unpunished simply because the right person to be held accountable is dead? Can the problem really vanish with the dead of the person perceived to be its causer? It doesn’t vanish. It tends to stay longer than expected.

The conflict in our country is not tied to the back of president Kiir or Dr. Machar. It has greatly affected all the people of South Sudan as individuals, communities, women, children, youth, politicians, civil societies, church leaders, government officials, business groups, etc. With or without the two leaders, the conflict is bound to stay in the absence of goodwill from all the people of South Sudan to move the warring parties to the direction of peace, compromise, truth and reconciliation. The war upheavals have shaken and weakened our social fabrics, political mentality and economic strengths to the point that will make recovery period lengthy and costly. The conflict and its impacts have left us severely traumatized. Resolution of the conflict based on credible healing process will move the people of South Sudan to a new era of just peace and unity.

The movement toward just peace has already begun with Khartoum Declaration. My fathers, president Kiir and Dr. Machar deserve credit from the people of South Sudan for initiating Khartoum Declaration and taking the biggest step forward to declare permanent ceasefire and cessation of hostilities in the whole country. Part of the credit should go to president Omer Hassan El Bashier for hosting the peace talks and facilitating arrival at Khartoum Declaration. The next important step for president Kiir and Dr. Machar is implementation of the Revised Bridging Proposal. The people of South Sudan would like to see practical disengagement and separation of forces in close proximity and withdrawal of allied forces taking place with immediate effect.

Release of prisoners of war and political detainees need to be done transparently and quickly to show real spirit of good gesture and commitment to implementing the entire agreement. The issue pertaining to war Prisoners and political detainees is very sensitive when it comes to implementing the agreement reached. To make the agreement acceptable and attractive to all and to prepare conducive atmosphere for implementation, parties to the conflict should speak with the voice of truth, the most important pillar of reconciliation. The ethnic groups keep records of their missing sons and daughters. They deserve to be told their whereabouts. If they are alive, they should be released immediately. If they met a sad demise, their relatives, friends, colleagues and communities should be informed about the nature of this demise. Keeping people uninformed about the disappearances of their love ones is impunity dragging peace efforts from the stage the country has reached—thus signifying the return to square one of injustice, which we don’t advocate to go by.

Survival of agreed permanent ceasefire rests entirely on urgent joint deployment of more robust forces by IGAD, African Union and UN Security Council (UNSC). Experience has shown that IGAD and African Union alone are too weak and vulnerable to safeguard and protect the permanent ceasefire, civilians and humanitarian corridors. The combined efforts of IGAD and African Union member states as well as the UNSC are likely to yield better outcome. The Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement and Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) will function effectively under these combined efforts. Hence, my fathers, president Kiir and Dr. Machar are under obligation to close the doors for spoilers of peace through mobilizing combined national, regional and international efforts. Victory is imminent. Let God the father bless president Kiir and Dr. Machar for declaring permanent ceasefire! Amen.

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