The National Dialogue is an amicable solution to South Sudan’s conflict!

Posted: May 28, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Kerubino kocrup, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Kocrup Makuach, Nairobi, Kenya

National Dialouge Steering Committee

National Dialogue Steering Committee.jpg

May 28, 2017 (SSB) — Let’s take a walk down memory lane. In December 2013, violence erupted in Juba as a result of a political disagreement within the ruling party, SPLM. That is between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his former Vice President Riek Machar. As the war raged, the two warring parties were summoned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for peace talks under the auspices of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Several deals were reached to end the fighting, but they did not hold. Fighting continued and quickly deteriorated into an all- out ethnic violence pitting Dinka, Nuer and other communities against each other. A parallel process was started by Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), a Tanzanian political party, under the leadership of former President Jakaya Kikwete. The primary aim was to reunify and rejuvenate the splintered SPLM.  The reformed SPLM would then undertake key political and economic reforms in the country.

The three SPLM factions, having signed up to several agreements negotiated on both the Arusha and IGAD processes, proceeded to implement them and bring the war to an end.  Thus in 2015, the former political detainees returned to the country and their key member, former SPLM Secretary General, Mr. Pagan Amum, was reinstated in his position.

On 17th August 2015, the two warring parties, the government of South Sudan and the SPLM In Opposition (SPLM-IO), signed a final peace agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was witnessed by the regional leaders, African Union, organisations and representatives of the rest of the international community.

This was the agreement which facilitated the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar to resume his former role as Vice President of the country.  This power sharing arrangement and the wider peace deal ushered the establishment of a unity government tasked to end the war and rekindle unity among South Sudan’s ethnic communities.

The implementation of this so-called Agreement on the Resolution of the Crisis in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS) proceeded hastily. On Tuesday 26th April 2016, Riek Machar jubilantly landed in the capital, Juba, and was sworn in as the First Vice President.  The formation of the cabinet for the Transitional Government of National (TGoNU) soon followed.

The implementation of the peace agreement progressed, with the two principals, President Kiir and Riek Machar seemingly working fruitfully together.  Unfortunately on Friday 8th July 2016, fighting erupted again between forces loyal to the President and those loyal to the First Vice President at the Presidential Palace. Riek Machar fled, first on foot to the DRC, and then on a charted plane to Khartoum where he received medical treatment. He is currently residing in South Africa.

When Riek Machar left Juba, his senior team, the members of SPLM-IO’s Political Bureau, remained behind. They convened and selected Gen. Taban Gai to take the place of Riek Machar, adhering to article 5.3 of the Power-Sharing Government, which outlines the conditions, terms and procedure of appointing a successor should the position of the First Vice President fall vacant.

Six months later, on 20th December 2016, President Salva Kiir appointed a 30 plus eminent persons panel to steer a “National Dialogue”. This is a government-initiated inclusive home-grown process aimed at augmenting the impaired TGoNU to bring about total and sustainable peace.

Among the appointees are Abel Alier, Joseph Lagu, Angelo Beda, Bona Malual, Francis Deng and others. Alier and Lagu are former Presidents of South Sudan.

This week, on 22nd May 2017, members of the National Dialogue Committee were sworn in by President Kiir in a ceremony observed by several dignitaries including Yoweri Museveni, President of neighboring Uganda and representatives of diplomatic missions and other organisations.

Regrettably, the process is being boycotted by several opposition groups, including a group known as the Former Political Detainees (FDs) and the faction of the SPLM-IO that still allied to Riek Machar. Central to their objections is the exclusion of Riek Machar from the process. But Riek Machar is seen as an impediment to peace by many South Sudanese and within the region. So, the government’s hands are tied on this issue.

Gen. Taban Deng Gai’s position is unshakable. The incontrovertible legality of his appointment and the leadership abilities that he has brought to bear since his appointment, are such that he is now viewed as the best person to represent the many aggrieved supporters of the SPLM-IO at the national dialogue.

Another reason why the opposition’s grumbles have no ground to stand on, whatsoever, is that they self-exclude themselves by declining their invitations in the National Dialogue committee. Cases in point are the appointments by the President of Mama Rebecca Nyandengdit and Kosti Manibe to the committee.  They have shown a complete disregard to the suffering of the people of South Sudan.

When Dr. John Garang, then the First Vice President of the Sudan, died precipitously soon after he had signed the peace agreement that ended the 22-year North-South war, the SPLM leadership sat down and appointed Salva Kiir to succeed him. His appointment stood the test of time as he went on to successfully navigate the nascent Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) through numerous seemingly insurmountable challenges until the South finally clinched its independence on 9th July 2011. The hopes of the southerners and the resolve of the SPLM leadership were not lost by the loss of the great leader John Garang. Similarly, we see no reason why the aspirations of the SPLM-IO and its followers should be hampered because of the transfer of command to Gen Taban Deng Gai.

The National Dialogue is a credible, transparent home-grown process which offers the nation an opportunity to overcome its current serious challenges. The history of South Sudan is dotted with many successful home-grown solutions to discords.  Examples of these are: Wunlit Peace Covenant, South-South Dialogue, Rumbek Reconciliation (John Garang vs Salva Kiir), Reconciliation between John Garang and Riek Machar following Machar’s split in 1991 from the SPLM.  Without those successes, the 2005 CPA and the 2011 birth of the nation would not have been realised.

The National Dialogue presents a rare chance for South Sudanese to salvage the eroded trust between their 64 plus ethnic communities and to bring about lasting peace and stability grounded on the principles of good governance transparency, accountability, rule of law, justice and democracy. It is a tool to purge the country of nepotism, tribalism, sectarianism, corruption, impunity and injustice.

We call upon the friends of South Sudan UN, IGAD, Troika, AU, regional leaders and the wider international community to support the National Dialogue process and to help in urging those still opposing to the process to think again.

The National Dialogue is our lifeline. All parties must be encouraged to attend and engage with each other while always placing the national goodwill first. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “The time is always right to do what is right.”

I believe this is the time to rebuild our nation to the great destiny God had intended for it. We have had enough of war and hate. Now is the time to focus on the main issues affecting us all? Let’s join the National Dialogue and address these issues.


You can reach the author via his email: kerubino kocrup <>

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 SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

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