By Wenne Madyt Dengs
Dialogue is not a recent discovery. Right through the past and in nearly all societies, getting groups together to overcome differences and solve problems has been a particularly prestigious assignment usually given to experienced individuals, elders or people respected for their good judgment and wisdom.
Elements of ‘dialogue methodology’ have been and continue to be applied in traditional societies, based on ancestral procedures and customs. Their validity is also recognized in transitional justice, conflict management and reconciliation processes but the national dialogue initiated by the government of South Sudan does not fit the features of a successful dialogue; being solely initiated by the government without considering opinions and participation of political parties and civil society alliance justifies that its success is at risk.
The stirring committee of the national dialogue should be wary of the traps that may be deliberately built into a discourse process by the government. The call for dialogue when basic issues of political liberties are involved may be an effort by the government to induce the citizens to surrender peacefully while the violence of the repression continues.
Political parties are the main initiators of participants in and beneficiaries of a national dialogue. However, when inter-party relations are marked by tensions and none of the parties is confident or willing to take a first step, impartial intermediaries may step in to initiate and facilitate the dialogue.
When government uses the word “national dialogue” to bring peace and harmony, it does not necessarily mean that it wants peace with absolute freedom and justice. The government would like to use the national dialogue for opposition parties’ submission to its cruel oppression and passive compliance for it has perpetrated atrocities on hundreds of thousands of people.
Another intent of why the National Dialogue is pushed down the throats of the angry and hungry South Sudanese is to endorse the legitimacy, which means of the entire regime as usual, as their self-refreshed tenure is waning in a few months down the line.
In short, it is my suppressed view that the government of South Sudan is masking the eyes of the public by imposing the National Dialogue while it’s targeting submission to its will.
One wonders how the National Dialogue committee is growing broader every day. Tbis is it: Mr. President appoints his puppets and pawns whom he indoctrinates with his monarchical principles so that he (president) achieves his target, which is submission of the opposition party (ies) and the ever-unknowing South Sudanese masses to his will not necessarimy to bring meaningful peace.
I thought after the president of Republic appointed the leaders of the National Dialogue Committee, he would have handed wholesale the process to them, but because he knew that he appointed those whom he did not have full trust in executing his interest accordingly, so, he had to keep on appointing more members. This has blown up the list of the committee into meaninglessness!
Does anyone harbour this feeling that the Kiir’s National Dialogue is a deliberate distraction to the ongoing lame Revitalization process of the Accord for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS)? It’s detractor sister to the ever-hopping SPLM Reunification caravan that is now touring every city of our neighbourhood.
Instead of wasting time and resources, which means more lives lost in every interval, the parties should know that in all stages of a dialogue process, facilitators need to be able to consider the ever-changing political environment and evaluate how political developments can affect inter-party relations and the overall goals of the dialogue.
Besides, true conflict resolution dialogues the world over require not only the right personalities but also thorough preparations. No facilitator should get engaged in a dialogue without knowing what the dialogue is about; what the central and underlying issues are; who is who within each political party; and how the various parties are organized. The Juba dialogue is poor in that. It was just an immergency deal pressed upon the people by means of Gen. Kiir’s decrees that are as unpopular as President Trump’s tweets.
As I stated earlier, opposition leaders may feel forced to pursue dialogues out of a sense of hopelessness of the democratic struggle. However, that sense of powerlessness can be changed. Young wavering government like what Republic of South Sudan is; are not permanent. People living under such predetermined government needs not remain weak, and rulers need not be allowed to remain powerful indefinitely.
Achieving a society with both freedom and peace is of course no simple task. It requires great strategic skill, organization, and planning. Above all, it will require power. Citizens (democrats) cannot hope to bring down a dictatorial government and establish political freedom without the ability to apply their own power effectively.
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