South Sudan National Dialogue to Attain Sustainable Peace and Prosperity
By Acuil Malith Banggol - March 21, 2017
My viewpoint is to let the process of National Dialogue to be inclusive in thinking by all actors, stakeholders and beneficiaries. This could enable the actors and stakeholders to broaden their views in envisioning and planning a comprehensive and relevant approach calling for South Sudan National Dialogue to stop war and famine. Political agreement and security arrangements are not antidotes to instability, lack of trust and disrupted social cohesions. War and famine are themselves symptoms of lack of stability and harmony. Further more these are also symptoms of lack of consensus on needed mutual recognition, collaborative interdependent to achieve widely owned and sustainable peaceful coexistence and prosperity for all. The solution is to rekindle the spirit of revolutionary ideals of unity in diversity. It could easily be noticed that the persistent inadequate ideological and nationalistic civic education are partly to be blamed. Membership of political community, faith and any claimed belongingness is not through scientific training, inculcation and acculturalisation. Associations are exploited as ladders to climb to power enjoyed by a ruling party or a pressure group to seek power sharing and the ensuing looting sharing. I have personal experience that hardly any of my colleagues at leadership and rank and file of the my party, is aware of or has abided by article 5, 6, 8.2, 9.9, 9.17, 9.18 and 24.9 of SPLM Constitution 2008 amended 2016. But SPLM could contribute through such a prism on national dialogue.
I am puzzled. I have read some views calling to reinvent the wheel to renegotiate the ACRISS 2015. Some have even suggested creating another Congo in South Sudan through naïve suggestions of regional forces or regime change. Some have forgotten the experiences of genocide and instability that followed elections in Rwanda and Kenya. Both countries rushed for elections without giving a chance for dialogue. Examples of El Salvador mixed approached helped enhanced national dialogue. In South Sudan, the best option is to build on any level of success achieved from the ongoing trio presidency of President Kiir, First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and Vice President Wani Igga. In itself the trio leadership has factored in the element of inclusivity of greater regions, states, counties, payams, bomas and communities. ACRISS 2015 implementation is plausible. Others could join the process.
Mistakenly, ACRISS 2015 was founded on balance of armed forces at expenses of balance of powers of executive, legislature, the judiciary and in particularly the Traditional Commune Federal Systems of Governance. Limiting peace on political and balance of armed forces resulted into increased chances to conflict dialogue on July 2016. The repeat of the same, as being now called for now, is likely to cause another cycle of violent. If this possibility was not considered in negotiating and implementing ACRISS 2015 then this could now be judged as a weak point in ACRISS 2015. It should not be repeated. Mediators are advised not to make Juba a prototype of then Beirut of 1970s of red lines and green zones in divided city.
ACRISS 2015 was not inclusive. It was not based on balance of socio-polity, economic and cultural powers responsive to South Sudanese multicultural and multinationalism values. Instead mediators limited their focus on security arrangement and balance of armed forces. Worst still, the balance of powers was limited amongst the elites political community. There was a clear under estimate of the roles of cultural communities and the Traditional Authority Leaders. Let me bring to attention of all that, these cultural groups and traditional authorities were once target of destruction by the colonizers. But colonizers were forced to recognize and to incorporate them. In South Sudan, history of liberation demonstrated that traditional authorities and traditional commune federal systems of governance were instrumental in making a successful physical liberation. They proved instrumental during the population count, the 2010 elections and the 2011 referendum results. Traditional Authority and Traditional Commune Federal Systems are surely pivotal for success of National Dialogue. Everyone should be reminded that the field to wage military wars and mobilization of the human resources to fight the political war are vested and are under control of these cultural communities and their leadership. Articles 33, 36(4), 47, 166, 167, 178 and 169 of South Sudan Transitional Constitution, explicitly recognize, and mandate the incorporation of cultural groups in inclusive process of governance. A great deal has been achieved through legislation of South Sudan Local Government Act (LGA) 2009. It should be operationalized through National Dialogue that may help consensus on by-laws to enforce those legislations. Implementation of ACRISS 2015 made the TGONU to initiate a Ministry of Federal Affairs. Request for more administrative federal states is underway. Such success achieved under the trio presidency should not be disregarded. There is an incentive to encourage others to join.
My view is that national dialogue should be allowed. It should be innovatively structured and guided to arrive at consensus on by-laws to enforce those constitutional mandates. National Dialogue should build on achievement in implementation of ACRISS 2015. National Dialogue should be encouraged. It should not to be stopped to response to calls to stop symptoms of instability and insecurity. It is wishful thinking to stop fighting when the causes are not addressed. Armed groups have been encouraged to assert themselves militarily. Others have been rewarded. The government is mandated to use force to protect its authority.
National Dialogue could be structured to allow political opposition, armed groups and South Sudanese in diaspora and in refuge to form their committees to engage other actors to arrive at a consensus and trust to share a vision of stability and prosperity. The process shall arrive at intermediate results of trust and confident building. Through National Dialogue views could be synchronized to zoom around the type of nation state and nationhood to establish. Sooner the conflicting entities realize optional win-win then there could be a chance to seek mechanism to achieved the widely owned peaceful coexistence and prosperity for all. The purpose of national dialogue is to enhance social contract and empathic peaceful coexistence. This means helping South Sudanese to comprehend the need for civic movement and the complex process of public policy making process to mutually engage in National Dialogue.
It is not realistic to undermine or demonize the political and cultural grouping around the current establishment of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) founded on ACRISS 2015. The trend has attracted sizeable and a diverse multifaceted entities. They may not find their stake to be well addressed should the current system be abolished and ACRISS 2015 is reinvented. Hence excluding them may encourage them to reinvent violent to seek recognition and inclusivity. The vicious cycle may go on and on. It is futile to ignore the oppositions groups that have embraced ACRISS 2015 under the ongoing trio presidency and TGONU. It is important that opposition groups identify with ACRISS 2015.
Essence of National Dialogue should be effective communication used to share opinion to arrive at consensus. Culturally, dialogue has been used to create collaborative peaceful coexistence, trust and mutuality. Dialogue understandably has been used to suggest views much of which could also lead to asserting a point that may breed resistant in all its possible forms. But entities that opt for dialogue always do dialogue for a purpose of being heard and recognized. Dialogue could be peaceful, persuasive or aggressive with violent.
Conflict communication is a dialogue that tend to demonize and to dominate. Demonizing TGONU and ACRISS 2015 is negative dialogue. Wars could be considered a dialogue using non-peaceful means. National Dialogue is meant to share views about our future and how South Sudanese could mutually coexist and united in their diversities. The purpose should include achieving common goals of improved quality of life for all. Susan Stigant and Elizabeth Murray in their report Oct. 2015 are quoted that: National dialogues are becoming an increasingly popular tool for conflict resolution and political transformation. In the past several years, national dialogues have been proposed or carried out in a diverse group of countries and circumstances. Susan and Elizabeth also warned that: There is a risk, however, leaders seeking to further consolidate their grip on power can deliberately misuse that national dialogues. But it is also correct that leaders with interest to bring lasting peace could use National Dialogue. The say could include that entities with genuine interest could explore the process. This is itself is dialogue to dialogue about dialogue.
In South Sudan we were born to dialogue and for that matter a National Dialogue has featured in literature and perceptions. We used all forms of dialogue. We are accustomed to dialogue amongst ourselves but mainly South Sudanese dialogued with Khartoum. We have achieved CPA 2005, the South-South Dialogue, Referendum 2011 and now the ongoing dialogue. To succeed we opt to envision the National Dialogue as has been expressed by the government with an open mind to dialogue on the process but not a quick fix of demonizing the TGONU under ACRISS 2015. Genuine and pragmatic start is to help each entity to come up with their perceived views and form their committees or strategies to engage. The entities in dialogue should dialogue on mechanism to engage in dialogue. South Sudan National Dialogue has been an exercise that gave good results. Let us contextualize the current phase of national dialogue. In South Sudan the current crises are caused by conflict dialogue whose causation should be identified and dialogue around possible solutions. But crises are also caused by agreeably challenges of teething, institutional structures and organizational cultures.
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