It is time for the leadership of South Sudan to get to work and build a peaceful new nation. The leaders of 24 political parties in the South are meeting in Juba today in a post-referendum forum—called for by President Salva Kiir—to arrange for a transitional government that will take over on July 9.
The resolutions that were adopted in October 2010 by these parties will form a roadmap for future governance. Vice President Riek Machar, who is also the deputy chairman of the SPLM, served as chairman. Secretary General for the Southern Sector, Ann Itto, said that it was important that all the parties work together to resolve the challenges ahead.
Two items high on the forum’s agenda will be security and drafting of the future constitution. The concern over security became more crucial after last week’s clash in Jonglei between the renegade general, George Athor, with the SPLA military. (More on Arthor in the following article).
Machar pointed out that the Southern Sudan 2011 Taskforce, which he chairs, serves as a think-tank for the government as it requires the inclusion of members of all the political parties, civil society organizations and faith-based groups. He has sent letters requesting that organizations submit names of their representatives. His announcement is no doubt in response to complaints among tribal leaders that the new government appears to be dominated by members of the Dinka ethnic group, the largest in the South. They are being accused of the same abuse as their former northern government in Khartoum—as “elitist and exclusionary.” Machar, himself from the Nuer tribe, wants to demonstrate that all will be represented.
Machar also pointed out that the government had identified 59 objectives to achieve in the post-referendum period, including the official name of the new nation, its flag, national anthem and coat-of-arms. Some of the names put forth include: Azania, Nile Republic and the Bibical name Cush. Most prominent seems to be Republic of South Sudan, abbreviated as RoSS.
TROUBLE IN JONGLEI
At least 105 soldiers and civilians were killed in Jonglei only a few days after the announcement of the Referendum vote to secede, straining the efforts of the southern government and military to make a peaceful transition to statehood.
General George Athor, a former deputy chief of general staff in the SPLA, became
disgruntled when he lost an election for governor in Jonglei last April. He and his followers fought against the SPLA more than four times until he was barricaded so he could not move from his base; then later merely monitored. The following month General chief of Staff James Hoth Mai, at the 27th anniversary of the formation of the SPLA/SPLM, called for reconciliation and forgiveness among political leaders. He said, “The tribal conflicts have become a nuisance to our young government. May I call upon individual tribes in southern Sudan to embrace peace and harmony with your neighboring tribes.”
President Salva Kiir in his inaugural address in Juba in May 2010 pledged to initiate reconciliation initiatives and asked all to do the same. “Let us heal our wounds, preach harmony, and forgive each other,” Kiir said.
An article in Time Magazine online (Feb. 9 2011) commented: “During the previous civil war, more southerners died at each others’ hands than were killed by their northern enemies, who funded and armed southern tribal rivals.”
Even the South’s Vice President, Riek Machar became a rebel commander at that time, splitting the movement along tribal lines, supported by Khartoum. As a Nuer, he challenged the beloved Dr. John Garang, a Dinka and head of the SPLA. Machar and others who fought at times against their fellowmen, now call for peace. Let us hope and pray they will remain sincere, even if it shortens their reach of power. And that others who foment squabbles will lay down their arms for the greater cause of peace and prosperity for their young nation.