A successful National Dialogue is a step closer to National Elections

Posted: July 4, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Aweng Mangar-Achol, Juba, South Sudan

July 4, 2017 (SSB) — If you subscribe to the notion that there is no monopoly in the market of ideas, then I welcome you to this dialogue. It is my objective to engage you in a discourse, that may yield a new prospective about the current political stalemate, and how we may induce positive change that results in favorable outcomes for our people.

At the onset, I welcome the inception of the National Dialogue Initiative in South Sudan, and commend the decision of great nationalist such as Hon. Abel Alier and others to spearhead this important forum. Like any political instrument, its impact is greatly dependent on a number of factors, one being the responsiveness of members of the public. This coupled with the fact that the National Dialogue operates in parallel to other initiatives inside and outside the country, warrant that I clarify the following.

Beside the elections of 2018, which are questionable at this stage, the National Dialogue remains as the singular avenue for the people of South Sudan to exercise their political power and make their voices heard. With this dose of reality, let us engage the following fundamental questions.

How can the National Dialogue, facilitate reconciliation among our various communities, that is both genuine and lays concrete foundation, to how we should live and govern ourselves as a people. Second, how can the National Dialogue, engage the political parties, and pave the way for a fair and credible national elections in 2018.

I must acknowledge, the task before us as a people of South Sudan is quite ambitious. Many doubt our capacity as citizens to effectively respond, hence the preference for outside prescribed-solutions that usurp our power in this democratic process. In this regard, a reminder of our long quest for sovereignty is helpful, in realigning our ideas and rediscovering our power.

Having withstood the pillage of slavery and colonialism, the 19th century beckoned a new consciousness in Africa. In our case, a dormant spirit reawakened: that of the aboriginals of Sudan, a people of the River Nile, this important anchor of human civilizations.

The concentration of power in the north and the imbalance in governments that followed the 1956 independence in Sudan, were by design. Underpinned by a desire to continue looting the land, and exploiting the people, meant that all governments that followed were inherently malignant.

Consequently, the oppressive proclivities of governments in the north, gave birth to new breed of leaders in the Southern Struggle for independence. Leaders like William Deng Nhial, who was assassinated in 1968 after successfully agitating for a new political dispensation, and demonstrating political victory, by wining in elections.

The people of South Sudan again, this time collectively, demonstrated political victory on July 9, 2011, by voting overwhelmingly for independence and separation from Sudan. Emerging from such a brutal history, disenfranchised but with independence in our hands, we are once more asked to raise to the occasion.

How can the National Dialogue facilitate reconciliation among our various communities, that is both genuine and lays concrete foundation, to how we should live and govern ourselves as a people?

The National Dialogue Steering Committee should broaden its reach and engage our people across the board. The preconceived notion that our people fight over scarce resources, is an attempt to simplify a rather complex set of issues. Marginalization in South Sudan must be understood in the larger context and addressed in a way that mitigates the impact of historical isolation and the policies of divide and rule.

Therefore, we must use this opportunity to examine our resources, supply & demand and prescribe / implement a clear economic agenda. A very small number of our people participate in the formal sector, and the National Dialogue must further explore ways to make our economy more inclusive and adoptive to the political, environmental, and regional changes.

This means translating our people’s concerns and long held grievances into technical documents useful in rural development and urban planning.

How can the National Dialogue engage the political parties of South Sudan, and pave the way for a fair and credible national elections in 2018?

A dialogue at the grass roots on how to interact with political parties, will correct and prevent future mistakes. The political environment in South Sudan as we know it is narrow, thus the National Dialogue must be the vehicle by which our people make it clear, that we totally reject, dictatorial practices of the old Sudan, use of violence and one party rule.

And in the interest of strengthening institutions, and ending the current conflict, political parties should be correctly engaged and compelled to hold coherent positions. There must be a concerted effort to make political parties answerable to the wider public. All political parties should be asked to publish their policy positions and recommendations on the following areas: economy, healthcare, education, resettlement & rehabilitation, system of governance, number of states, accountability and security.

This exercise will encourage the wider public to evaluate its expectations of government, both local and national. Furthermore, dissecting these views and elevating the conversation will make it easier to break the harmful practice of sectarian politics, and expand the political space.

In conclusion, I urge all of us, and in particular political parties, to think deeply about who we are as a people, and how we should govern ourselves. The growing role of outside hands, in crafting fundamental documents, responsible for shaping our society and way of life should concern us all.

Therefore, let us engage in meaningful discourse, and fully utilize available platforms such as the National Dialogue, to achieve, desirable outcomes for our people.

You can reach the author via his email: AwengMangar-Achol <mangar.achol2011@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 from.

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