Statement by Luke Thompson Thoan, Member of SPLM-IO On the Occasion of:
A Public dialogue organized by University Forum on Governance, the Network of South Sudan Civil Society Organizations in Uganda in Partnership with Konrad Adeneur stiftung
24th August 2018 Makere University, Kampala
Makere University, Kampala
Honorable Professor, Mahmood Mamdani,
Executive Director, Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), and Principal of University Forum on Governance;
Distinguished Public Intellectuals of the region and beyond;
Members of Ugandan and South Sudanese Civil Society Groups;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I greet you all on behave of those who struggle against injustice and oppression everywhere and more especially in the name of people of South Sudan whose quest for “ Justice, Equality and Freedom” is always the core of their aspirations.
The Republic of South Sudan got itself into civil war barely two years after its independence from Sudan, when President Salva decided to make a coup against his government and the people in the year 2013. The first coup was against his cabinet when he fired them on July 23, 2013 and the second one in December 15, 2013 when he cleansed Juba of its ethnic Nuer population at the watch of both the region and international community.
These coups were orchestrated by him on the influence of greed and desire to dominate state operation in favor of his ethnic group. It is important to note that the Republic of South Sudan is inhabited by 8 million persons according to the Sudan Housing and Population Census, 2008 (now estimated to be around 12 million). It is a diverse nation comprised of 64 ethnic groups. Dinka and Nuer combined constitute about 47% of the total population. During the interim period of CPA 2005 – 2010, the President could be seen visibly making favorable appointments in civil service, Army and Constitutional positions to members of his ethnic Dinka in exclusion of others. These practices on his part continued up to when South Sudan got its independence in July 2011 and beyond. The resultant effects of these appointments which were not based on merits and competencies would later on form the basis of the state predation which subsequently created a situation of alienation disposition and disarticulation between the already deformed and defective state institutions on one end, and constituents’ parts of the society on the other end.
This control of the state machineries by the President’s ethnic functionaries culminated into grave corruption cases, physical liquidation and persecutions of ethnic minorities including massacring them as well as sustained policy of excluding others from participating in governance structures of the state at both national and states levels. Few individuals from other ethnic groups who were luckiest and handpicked for appointments in governance structures wield no power, for the power rest with the master. This brought the relations of others with President’s ethnic group to a master versus a slave.
In view of the above declared tendency of the President to erect an ethnocentric hegemonic regime, his colleagues in the ruling party the SPLM called for reforms in all governance institutions in an attempt to address the direction the state has taken before and after the independence. To surprise of all, the President offered them war instead in 2013. This war had to claim hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced 4 million more into refugee camps in neighboring countries where Ugandan alone hosts 1.3 million since 2016.
To address these tendencies of hegemony and other deficiencies which marred the state formation and the operation of its machineries, it is our contention in the SPLM – IO, that the recently signed agreement by the parties through the help of regional mediation offers golden opportunity for us the people and leaders to correct mistakes of the past and chart a new beginning for the future. We believe that to achieve this, all the political forces should seize the opportunities offered by ARCSS and would be revitalized ARCSS to redirect their energies toward building of a state for all.
We view the recently signed protocols on outstanding issues of governance and security arrangements as measures for termination of the war and as a settlement to the conflict. The resolution of the conflict is not achieved yet. The agreement on those two protocols and others signifies the desire of the parties to end and silence the voice of gun, whereas the resolution of the conflict lies in the full implementation of the provisions of the whole agreement. The implementation of the agreement requires sustained will and commitment of the parties, the region and international community to continue dialoguing on deep seated factors of the conflict during the transitional period with the view of addressing issues of justice, equality, security, marginalization and recognition among others. It is when these ontological needs of the disenfranchised and marginalized segments of the society are fully attended to holistically during the transitional period that we can authoritatively proclaim at the end that the conflict is resolved and a sustainable peace leading to stability and development is achieved. Therefore, to us in the SPLM/SPLA IO this settlement of the conflict (agreement) is a roadmap which obligated and mandated the parties to reflect against their violence approach to issues of state management and to choose dialogue instead on the same. The agreement has provided the parties an opportunity to address and implement the following provisions of the agreement which are fundamental prerequisites for peace through dialogue during the pre-transitional period and within transitional period for comprehensive peace to prevail. Any attempt by the parties and especially the regime to renege on their implementation could cause a serious setback to the wishes and aspirations of our people for peace and stability.
Security sector reform leading to formation of an inclusive professional national army through guidelines and criteria to be developed by SDSR;
Instituting a federal system of governance at the end transitional period (Art 1.2 Chapter VI – ARCSS) and (Art 6.2.2 Chapter VI – RARCSS)
Promulgation of a permanent constitution before the end of transitional period through the procedures laid down in (Art 5.5 Chap VI – ARCSS) and 6.4 and 6.11 RARCSS)
Compensation and reparations to victims of state terrorism; (Art 4 Chap V – ARCSS and ( 5.7 Chap V – RARCSS)
Prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against the masses; (Art 3.5 Chap V – ARCSS) and (5.6.5 Chap V – RARCSS)
In addition to the above five (5) fundamental pillars for peace in South Sudan, we believe that a robust and proactive national healing and reconciliation programming and combating corruption are and should be of immediate urgency and attention of the RTGoNU among others.
Though the agreement has attempted to chart a clear political transition for reforming and building state institutions during the thirty six (36) months transitional period, the adoption of federalism as system of governance at the end of the transition and promulgation of a permanent constitution to guide the next post-transitional period among others, the parties shall continue to be faced by the following challenges that may impede the implementation of the agreement;
Lack of political will and commitment on part of the regime to implement the agreement. It is important to note that the regime until this moment has not honored its obligation on Permanent Ceasefire which calls upon parties to cease fighting and hostilities. They are continuing to attack our position including the day before yesterday at Biel Payam in Guit County as well as continuing to keep political detainees despite agreeing to release them as provided for by COHA and Permanent security arrangement.
Improper Influence of JCE on policy choices of President Kiir including expected negative role to be played by Taban Deng who may persuade the President to try to assassinate Dr. Machar for the third time as they both did in July 2016 on illusionary gambit of a winner take it all.
The stalemate over the number and boundaries of states remain the thorniest issue which poses direct threat to the implementation of the Agreement despite proposed Inclusive Boundaries Commission and a Plebiscite as solution to the former.
The decline of international community to back up the deal coupled with the lack of proper funding sources for the implementation activities casts a gloomy future to the full implementation of the agreement.
Thanks you all for listening:
Luke Thompson Thoan
Member, NLC, (SPLM – IO)
August 23, 2018