The challenge of Restoring Governance in Post-Conflict South Sudan

Posted: December 7, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan

By Tong Kot Kuocnin, Nairobi, Kenya

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December 7, 2016 (SSB) — Restoring governance and strengthening and building trust in government in crisis and post-conflict societies is such an important aim of the international community in an attempt to avert future recurrence of the conflict and thus an important aspect of keeping an international order, peace and security.

This article critically assesses the challenges of restoring governance and building trust and confidence in the government of the day in a war ravaged South Sudan. The most difficult challenges of restoring governance arise from the absence of a constitutionally-established governing authority and from serious weaknesses of government capacity and resources.

This has been clearly indicated by the World Bank’s 2006 indicators where almost all post-conflict countries show relatively low performances in government effectiveness, political stability and control of violence, accountability and regulatory quality of the services the government deliver, and control of corruption. This entail that governments in post-conflict countries are not very effective in performing their functions.

In South Sudan previously and even now, power is exercised for private gains through petty and grand forms of corruption or state institutions were captured by few elites to promote and protect their private interests. That’s what seriously cost the country in so many losses and scandals at unprecedented scale by the very elite who captured state institutions and resources allocated to such institutions, and who happened to be the senior government officials.

Corruption remains a problem then and up to now in South Sudan even with or without conflict. Whether governance is seen in a narrow perspective of improving public management and strengthening government capacity to perform essential functions or in a minute form of expanding network of corrupt practices and its compounding elements is one of the difficult aspect of rebuilding war-torn society like south Sudan.

Reaching a peace agreement or arranging for the cessation of hostilities is in itself no guarantee that peace can be secured and future recurrences of violence could be maintained even if at a minimal point.

It is evident that countries emerging from hostilities have high chances of relapsing into conflict in five years to come due to misunderstandings, political wrangling and control of resources between the former adversaries who became stakeholders in governance of the country.

However, good governance and trust in government are such essential conditions for maintaining durable peace and reconstructing a country like South Sudan that has been devastated by war because emerging from crisis and conflicts over the control of resources, the country remains vulnerable to continuing tensions and hence relapse to future conflict with a devastating scale.

If South Sudan can be made a stable and peaceful country, then five categories of governance and redevelopment functions must be undertaken in order to avert and avoid future return to war of devastating nature like the one we have just ended.

These five categories include (1) establishing safety and security; (2) re-establishing and strengthening constitutional governance; (3) implement post-conflict recovery and reconstruction programmes; (4) stabilizing the economy; and (5) strengthening justice, reconciliation and rule of law organizations. The failure to establish and strengthen these mechanisms makes the task of maintaining lasting and durable peace more challenging and can replicate the return to war.

Failure to attend to these tenets often impacts negatively on government’s ability to deal effectively with both the present and future challenges created by its inability to scrupulously manage post-conflict challenges amicably. High levels of corruption in post-conflict period post serious problems that threaten the legitimacy and efficacy of the government ability to deal with the past corrupt officials from the old corrupt system.

Hence, to ensure safety and security, the TGoNU must enforce peace agreement in letter and spirit, reconstitute security force, ensure public order and safety, demobilize and disarm all ex-combatants, secure territorial borders, strengthen police service, and reintegrate ex-combatants into the society.

The TGoNU must also enact new or amend repugnant legislations to meet regional and international standards and best practices, establish mechanisms for elections and citizens participation, strengthen executive, legislative and judicial branches and, guarantee freedoms for civil society and the media, and protect political and human rights of the people.

The TGoNU should also rebuild justice system, protect human and property rights and stabilize currency, reform financial, economic and regulatory institutions. In conclusion however, restoring governance and strengthening Transitional Government of National Unity and build people’s confidence, it must be made a crucial task to avoid future recurrence to conflict.

No matter whether governance reform begins more broadly or narrowly in its stage of progress, it must likely be tied to issues of public sector institutional or structural change. Restoring governance and building trust in government requires public administration reform in policies, rules, procedures, system, organizational structures and personnel.

No government can however be restored without addressing changes in institutional arrangements and organizational structure and without rethinking the roles and functions of government. Thereto, public administration must be capable of the management and implementation of the whole set of government activities beginning with implementation of laws, regulations and decisions of the government, only then could these challenges of restoring governance in this country could be overcome.

The writer is a Master of Laws (LLM) candidate at the School of Law, University of Nairobi specializing in Law, Governance and Democracy. He can be reached via: tongbullen@gmail.com   

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

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