South Sudan: Thought for today: … as the Pressure mounts on the parties to form a unity government

Thought for today: … as the International Diplomatic Pressure mounts on the parties to form a unity government, it appears we may be forced to form it without completing the critical tasks related to the pre-transition.

The parties will probably end up forming the government with the understanding that everything else can be discussed later. It is important to state for the historical record that we have been here before. That being said, the struggle for fundamental change in our country continues.

Our civil population should not be dismayed by the mischief which surrounds the peace process!

It is important – on the eve of the deadline- as we face new hurdles in the peace process, to take stock of the situation. The parties have failed, after eight (8) months and two extensions, to implement critical tasks necessary for starting the interim period of the Agreement. The interim period will last for three years culminating in elections. There are even more difficult provisions the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) will be tasked with. If we have failed to implement these critical tasks in the pre-interim period, what gives us the impression that we shall implement the tougher provisions?

In addition to this, the Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) – Dr. Riek Machar Teny – has been negotiating as a prisoner and as we anticipate the formation of the government tomorrow, the First Vice President Designate is still a prisoner. We wonder. Will he be sworn in and take his office as a prisoner? This mischief will go down in world history.

There is a possibility that the R-TGoNU will be formed, circumventing the provisions of the Agreement. The regime has in ways unbeknownst to the public convinced the Diplomatic Corps to put pressure on the Peoples’ Movement to form the government. In the interest of “giving peace a chance” and in the spirit of our African cultural unity and shared values, we have opted to respect the arbitrator and the interest of our people. Despite the many challenges ahead, our people should not fear the formation of the government. If by some miracle this unscientific approach bears fruits, it will be to the advantage of the entire public. The formation of the government has been portrayed by the regime as “salam ja” – which means peace has come in South Sudanese vernacular.

The formation of the government will dispel this myth which is the source of tremendous mischief!

We must understand the importance of forming the government is not so that it shall magically bring peace. The formation of government is important because it is the vehicle through which peace may be delivered. If the R-TGoNU fulfils its mandate of implementing the provisions of the negotiated settlement, we shall effortlessly arrive at peace. And our people will be able to hold the R-TGoNU to account if the Agreement is not being implemented. The formation of government must coincide with the lifting of the state of emergency and the opening of political space in the country. If after the formation of the government our citizens are not able to freely assemble and exercise their freedom of speech and expression, we will know the R-TGoNU is really a continuation of the untenable status quo.

Our people will know after the resolutions of the first sitting of the new cabinet, what direction the R-TGoNU may take and in 100 days it will be crystal clear. In the interest of finding peace, we may cautiously give the R-TGoNU a chance. If it is a real peace regime, there will be more opportunities for our people to organise and make their voices heard. There is no contradiction between the formation of the government and the continuation of our struggle to bring about fundamental change in the country, it in fact furthers it. The formation of the government does not mean there will be no opposition in the country. Furthermore, our people don’t have to wait for the R-TGoNU to commence the process of National Reconciliation and Healing; we can start this through civil society organisations – who are also stakeholders in the Agreement. Our use of “People Power’ – non-violent action – will become more relevant and more effective and will be the litmus test for the peace process. If we form the government and our people still live in fear then what kind of peace are we talking about?

The onus will be on the R-TGoNU to prove to the people of South Sudan that they are serious about peace and expedite the implementation of the negotiated settlement, which is the work plan for the peace process.

A luta continua!

Mabior Garang
Mobile Office