By: Justin Ambago Ramba
9 January 2017
It is worth the effort to try and find the answer to the crucial question as to what should the people of South Sudan now aspire for having suffered this far under Salva Kiir’s SPLM/SPLA? Should they prioritize continuing with the resistance and liberation struggle, which are all too necessary if they are ever to establish the democratic state, good governance and the rule of law that they have always yearned for since time immemorial? Or simply should the priority be for yet another peace process given the fact that the last time South Sudan has ever witnessed peace and stability was nearly thirty-five years ago – in 1983!
It is true that history often repeats itself, however in South Sudan the situation is rather different. Here history doesn’t repeat itself, but rather it seems to be constantly there and dominating the scene. Nothing ever seems to change. Everything is stagnant, even time never seems to move nor does politics change, and so are the politicians, the same corrupt politics, and the same corrupt politicians!
If the struggle of the 20th century South Sudan was ever about human rights, human dignity, marginalization or exploitation, today in the 21st century our people are still struggling to free themselves from practically the same old vices. In the face of a grinding neglect and domination if some people had asked for federalism as a system of governance and by so doing had put their lives in the way of harm, today in South Sudan many are still doing the same.
The oppressors have only changed in their faces, races, tongues, colours, religions and civilization backgrounds, but their core policies remain the same. When our people were first oppressed by the European colonizers (Belgium, British, Othman.), not every European participated in the process, but a handful of elites and an entire state machinery behind them. And when the turn came for the Arabs to oppress our people, also not all the Arabs of the world were involved. The same was true of the Northern Sudanese oppressors who loaded it on us for fifty good years until the dawn of July 2005. It was only a handful of the so-called Awlad Al Beled elites and a couple of the so-called religious families organised under the banner of Islam, who oppressed us under the trade name of a united Sudan. Yet there was always a state machinery and authority to back, support and sponsor them.
Today, South Sudanese are still being oppressed, but this time the oppressors are from within. However, it doesn’t make it any different, for whether an oppressor is of an African origin, an Arab, or a European – for oppression is oppression, and an oppressor is an oppressor and an evil person for that matter! Again, whatever is happening today in South Sudan, was long seen coming even before the ink on the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 could dry. For because a few elites from one tribe had made up their minds to take up the role of the oppressor very early in the beginning of South Sudan’s first ever experience of a regional autonomy, the time that followed only embolden them for what is essentially an evil role.
So as the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 gave birth to a peaceful stable and relative self-rule in South Sudan after a century or so of oppression under foreign hands, it also sowed the very seeds of hatred and distrust among the people the moment one ethnic group saw itself the one born to rule and not to be ruled. In that essence to many South Sudanese from Equatoria, Western Bahr Al Ghazal and most parts of Upper Nile, the peoples’ long struggle against the successive oppressors never actually yield any tangible results in the form of true freedoms, equality, rule of law and development.
Another two decades of civil war from 1983 to 2005 also ended in yet another system that only entrenched a ‘One Tribe Rule’, nepotism, tribalism and corruption in spite of the independence from the Arab North. As has already been said earlier, much of these things are being perpetuated by a handful of crooked elites who are backed by an equally rotten system of government, primarily designed to serve their narrow self-interests at the expense of a vast majority of impoverished compatriots even from within their own ethnic constituencies. But a system is a system and the only way to go about addressing matters here is to revisit what the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior said about a deformed system, for the same is precisely true of the SPLM/SPLA & Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) backed system of governance that evolved in South Sudan since 2005. It is precisely too deformed to be reformed and only fit to be removed!
Now that we have a rotten to core system of government that can only be resisted and removed given the fact that it has gone wrong beyond repair, where then does our national priority lie in this time in history? Is it not shear logic that we better continue with the resistance and liberation struggle to totally uproot this cancer from its roots, or is there still some room for a side talk about a new peace process which is more likely to offer this crumbling regime yet another undeserved opportunity to re-invent itself?
No one is denying the horrible situations our masses are forced to live through since this rogue regime turned its Helicopter gunships against the unarmed civilians, bombing, burning and destroying whole villages and settlements. However, the talk of a renewed peace process isn’t in anyway a priority at this time, especially given the fact that this rogue regime six months ago, had the audacity to choose to end an entire Peace Agreement that took the region and the international community over two years to hammer out.
The argument is simple, for even if another peace agreement were ever reached while this same regime is still in power, the truce is destined to fail because of the inherent lack of commitment and integrity that characterizes those wielding power today in Juba. They just can’t honour any deal as such. And in short, Salva Kiir, Paul Malong and their heartless ideologue of the Jieng Council of Elders are all incompatible with peaceful co-existence. It is thus obvious that if they still wield power in Juba, any talk about a peaceful settlement will remain a dream to be pursued but never will it be attained.
However, to make things worse, the rot has now extended even to include the whole of the IGAD regional institution, and its appendages, backers, and sponsors in the so-called IGAD Plus. As for the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his UPDF mercenaries, none of them are newcomers when it comes to their historical roles in the destabilisation of the region including South Sudan. Unfortunately, Kenya too under President Uhuru Kenyatta and his agent to the IGAD/South Sudan the retired General Lazarus Sumbeiywo are also deeply involved in dubious business dealings and kickbacks with the rotten regime in Juba, rendering Kenya’s future involvements not any better than the others when it comes to genuine peaceful settlement in South Sudan.
The United States, on the other hand, surprised everyone how it chose to deal with Salva Kiir and his generals. The Obama administration is finally leaving office and walking away after its National Security Secretary, Susan Rice made sure that she kept the regime of Kiir in power in Juba, in spite of the mass rape of the American women aid workers by the South Sudanese Presidential Guards that took place in the Terrain Lodge Hotel in Juba as part of the July 2016 crisis.
Today in January 2017, we all know that through Susan Rice’s influence, President Obama and Secretary Kerry chose to back tract from their commitment to uphold the August 2015 Agreement for the Resolution of the Crisis in South Sudan (ARCISS) and intentionally failed to see that it is implemented to the letter and spirit. But instead they sought the policy of isolating Dr Riek Machar to give Salva Kiir a free hand to do whatever he and his tribal militiamen of the notorious ‘Mathiang Anyoor’ please to do.
On the concrete grounds offered by all these facts as mentioned above, a South Sudanese who is directly at the receiving end of the Juba regime’s injustice is left with no any other choice, but to continue resisting the regime’s onslaught. The struggle for a total liberation, indeed a people’s revolution becomes all inevitably the only way forward. This is not as an option, but in fact the only viable way to go, if we really want to avoid being again relegated to ‘second class’ citizen position.
Author: Justin Ambago Ramba. A concerned South Sudanese and a voice for the voiceless.