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Flawed Peace Process in South Sudan: The Country is on the Wrong Path

Ask any conflict and peace expert and they will tell you that the conflict is South Sudan goes beyond what the ordinary people see. The killings and the rape and the displacement and the looting and the destruction etc are all symptoms of a deeper crisis in the country. South Sudan or rather the poor ordinary citizens of South Sudan – majority of whom who know not a thing about the conflict – crave the end of the violence.  Some call it ethnic conflict and others resource conflict. These may not be exact names of the conflict. It goes beyond ethnicity – that is if ethnicity has a place at the core of the conflict in the first place – it also goes beyond resources.  When it comes to resources, some of the questions that one needs to pose are such as: what resources; whose resources? Where are the resources? Do whom do the resources belong? What amount of the resources? Who controls the resources and for what purpose? etc.  Such questions can help uncover more interesting and quite intricate dimensions to conflict that may have nothing to do with an ordinary Dinka or Nuer. The Dinka/Nuer divide is therefore artificial. There is much more to this conflict than ethnicity; there is much more than South Sudan itself. There is an elitist power struggle in South Sudan that surpasses any form of groupings whether ethnic or otherwise and with international networks of corruption and criminality that are out to milk the country of all its wealth with no regard at all, of the consequences of their actions.

Quite tragically, some people have been meant to believe that the wars in South Sudan are about ethnic balance and state control or as they love calling it “ethnic-based insurgencies.” Majority of the people in South Sudan are actively fighting without any idea why they are fighting. And that is the most dangerous section of society – those who fight wars whose owners they know not.

The conflict has irresponsibly preyed on primordial communal animus and further deepened ethnic cleavages between the perceived warring communities. Those elites fighting for their own narrow interests have turned their communities into violent constituencies who are busy fighting in the names of ethnic groups. Majority of the active combatants have no idea what winning such war is and even why they must win. Put plainly; what will an average Dinka benefit if and when all the Nuer are annihilated and the other way round? What does it mean winning an ethnic war other than ethnic cleansing – a genocide? Do those who are fighting know this and its implications?

Ethnic targeting and disenfranchisement of communities has alienated a broad segment of the citizenry, thereby paving the way for communal wars of all against all. None wins such a war – it is a war of self-destruction; as you fight to finish the other, you get consumed in the process and in the end you have a destroyed nation.  We saw what happened in Yugoslavia – today the world talks of the former Yugoslavia because the nation effectively disappeared from the face of the earth! To make an already hopelessly complex situation even worst, a number of tribes in the Equatoria region of south Sudan have recently joined the fray. This is turning areas that were previously ‘peaceful’ and home to a diverse mix of non-Dinka and non-Nuer communities, into killing grounds pitting these local communities against the both the government and the Dinka. At last, the lid has come off the dormant ferment of age-old inter-ethnic rivalries. Even though ethnic rivalry has been part of the history of South Sudan, it never reached the current combustible proportions; it never was supposed to. Unfortunately it has. A number of interlocking tragedies orchestrated by state and non-state actors have finally set South Sudan on the fast lane to genocide of momentous magnitudes.

Impunity, and indeed, poorly thought-through amnesty granted to those waging such local wars have reinforced violence. The country is at a dangerous trajectory; one of self-destruction even as ethnic chiefs basks in the glory of “their own” whose conscience have been destroyed and effectively turned into nothing but killing machines who even kill for leisure. The state has lost the hearts and minds of its population and has encouraged vigilante groups to emerge and act violently with impunity. South Sudan needs an urgent rescue from collapse to avert a catastrophe and urgent rebooting to reclaim its sovereignty. With ongoing wars, death, famine, rape, destruction, maiming and mass emigration, South Sudan has lost its magnetic needle and is out of orbit sliding dangerously towards anarchy and possible destruction.

Urgent international intervention to avert a looming genocide is needed. Unfortunately, instead of addressing serious issues that drive conflict in South Sudan, the actors have once again chosen the easier path. The peace process is entirely about power sharing between factions of SPLM specifically SPLM in Government, SPLM/IO and SPLM Detainees. Nobody seems to mention things such as political banditism, political corruption, state fragility and criminalization of the state as some of the key carriers of this deadly conflict. There cannot be one way to resolving this conflict but state formation is an important component that has been deliberately left out partly because those involved in the search for peace in South Sudan do not quite need a strong state. They know all too well that a strong South Sudan state will reclaim its sovereignty, have the ability to manage and redistribute its resources and proper channels to manage and resolve its conflicts. 
Flawed Peace Process in South Sudan: The Country is on the Wrong Path Flawed Peace Process in South Sudan: The Country is on the Wrong Path   Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on January 24, 2017 Rating: 5

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