Where are the Opposition Groups?

The national dialogue was first announced on the 14th December 2016 by President Salva Kiir Mayardit after the failure of the peace agreement signed in 2015, between the government and the SPLA-IO under Dr. Riek Machar. President Kiir reiterated many times that the national dialogue is meant to bring peace in the country and those who are opposed to his leadership. In March 2017, the national dialogue was supposed to start countrywide but it did not materialize.

On Monday 22nd May, 2017 Kiir finally launched the national dialogue to kickoff throughout the country to end the crisis. This is good news, but I am asking: where are the opposition groups after the launch of the national dialogue yesterday by the President?

They need to be in the country (here) and not outside the national dialogue box which people are talking about. Since the process of the national dialogue started a year ago, the opposition groups were not consulted, on how this national dialogue is going to be run? President Kiir has been making promises without the involvement of the opposition groups. He is in Juba, but some of these opposition groups and other armed groups are in the bush, some are in the foreign countries and others are hiding for fear of violence.

Before this national dialogue kick-off, the opposition groups and other armed groups are supposed to be part and partial of this process to ensure inclusivity which the government is always saying. In my own view they need to give their own opinions and views on how this national dialogue is going to be conducted. They need to elect their members to represent them during this process and they need to see that, they environment for conducting the national dialogue is free and fair. They need to ensure that, the security arrangement is also inclusive to both parties in the process of the national dialogue.

Furthermore, they should know when this national dialogue is going to start so that they can participate and convinced their members to join the national dialogue and those who might have thought of opposing the idea. A lot is required from the opposition groups to ensure that, the national dialogue is successful, because they are the people who are fighting the government and not my family and other friends who live in Juba and Wau. They are the people who are in disagreement with President Kiir’s government and his rule. So they are the target partners to this national dialogue rather than anyone else. In fact, this is the inclusiveness of the national dialogue people wanted to see coming into light.

The first priority should be given to them as the only way of reaching the peace agreement if the government is ready for peace. Why should the government conduct the national dialogue when these groups are absent in the country? What is the motive behind this? Is the government trying to silence the opposition groups to express their opinions and feelings by conducting the national dialogue in their absentia?

How are they going to come for the participation of this national dialogue, since from the beginning they were not consulted and brought in the board to share their common ideas? They may refuse to participate, because they think they have been neglected earlier on, for example, the wife of the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior have already refused to honor the offer of this national dialogue, because she said, she was not consulted. Well, this kind of things will definitely affect the national dialogue if the government is not serious enough. Where is the inclusivity here when the government is doing parallel things rather than getting into the real agenda with the opposition groups?

I doubt because the government seems to be buying time and money instead of addressing the real issues with the opposition groups and other armed groups. This is not good in favor of the national dialogue, it is a controversial story. If President Kiir is a peace maker, then he has to demonstrate what he is saying to the citizens and the whole country by doing and not by the word of the mouth. So many commitments have been made by President Kiir’s government but none materialize since the war erupted in 2013.

The writer is a political analyst reachable via: modijamesladu@yahoo.com

By James Ladu Modi Asuk Gwate

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