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President Kiir has several times in the past pledged not to take South Sudan back to war. He needs to demonstrate this now by doing everything in is power to end the current bloody crisis

The year 2013 marked of the start of political upheavals and speculations in the Republic of South Sudan. After December 15, political commentaries from academics and experts locally and across the globe dwelt on the eminent plunging of the country into instability and possible civil war, if no significant measures would be taken by the government. Probably the most prominent warnings before the alleged coup were the letter from the ‘Friends’ of South Sudan and the tireless public lectures and policy-oriented researches from the Sudd Institute team. None, of the early warnings seems to have sent a clear message to the government for significant change of direction. The country eventually leapt into crisis with what first started as a shoot-out among the presidential guards in Juba on 15 December 2013 and two days later erupted across the country, as a conflict between the two major tribes: Dinka and Nuer, in the perception of many international media outlets. The government dismissed the armed strike as a foiled coup d’état by the alleged SPLM/A rebel group led by Dr. Riek Machar. The government also went further to air out their suspicion of the possible instigation and support of the rebels by an international group, particularly UNMISS [UN Mission in South Sudan">. Whether coup or not, the rebels being supported by the international bodies or not, the buck stops with the government of South Sudan to immediately make sure the country stabilizes ,and that the people of South Sudan regardless of their tribes, religions and other creeds can peacefully co-exist.

The formation of the Crises Management Committee must be applauded and seen as evidence of political will by the government to end the crisis in the country. However, its composition must be closely scrutinized. For desirable outcomes, the committee would have been largely comprised of both national and international experts, instead of the cluster of politicians, some of whom could actually be part of the problem. The second move that must be much-admired is the recent call by the president of the nation, Salva Kiir Mayardit, for the people of South Sudan to work towards peaceful co-existence, and his promise to restructure the peace-building infrastructure: legislature, judiciary and executive. The third commendable step is the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement regardless of both groups’ future commitment to it.

Peace-building infrastructure processes must be strategized, or they will not achieve their purposes. Strategizing means instead of depositing the cluster of politicians together, there is a need to have a diverse and inclusive group of experts forming part of the various committees in the reformation of the SPLM/A structures, legislature, judiciary and the executive. Probably, the most demanding issue on the table right now is for the government to work towards changing the hearts and minds of the warring parties, and work jointly for a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan. This is a very difficult task; however, it can be significantly achieved by reviving and empowering the Truth and National Reconciliation Committee. The moments of truth, repentance, forgiveness and true reconciliation must be given way, from the top leadership to the grassroots. Governments are run by human beings who are fallible, with lows and highs. Our fallible sides and lows must be cemented by full repentance and honest probe for forgiveness.

The churches across South Sudan are doing tremendous work and must be supported. The recent message from AMECEA consortium of Eastern African Catholic Bishops,“We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is…” (2 Cor. 5:20): let there be an immediate cessation of hostilities and let the people of South Sudan rediscover the sense of nationhood”, must be commended and must be in the hearts, lips and tongues of every South Sudanese politician, expert and all citizens.

The president of the Republic of South Sudan has several times pledged not to take the people of South Sudan back to war. That is a top-notch political statement and must be matched with a well-talented, experienced and disciplined team, as well nationalistic in character to help shape the policies in congruence with the president’s statement. The root cause of South Sudanese problems heavily rests on the lack of robust and credible executive, judicial and legislative institutions. Establishing credible and strong institutions is a long term goal, it may not be realized in few years’ time, but in the long run. However, the current SPLM led government under his H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit must lay the foundation for the future generation. The ministry or the department of peace must be established for coordination and focus on peace-building projects.

* Agook Mayek Riak is an Economist currently based in South Sudan, and can be reached at [email protected]

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