IGAD Mediators, the South Sudanese people have the right to know – By Anyieth D’Awol
After more than a year of talks in Addis Ababa under the auspices of IGAD, we, the people of South Sudan, know far too little about what is being done in our name and on our behalf.
We know there is a peace process, publicly backed by the region and by the international community. We know there have been numerous attempts to reach comprehensive agreement, all of which have either failed or so far been inconclusive. We have little confidence in the quick political fix being pursued.
The silence of the IGAD mediation is worrisome. What are your plans? What is your strategy? Why do you not directly involve us in the peace process, the citizens it is meant to serve?
This is more than about the right of citizens to know, which we hope is obvious and self-evident. It is about the right to be involved, and to hear more than the propaganda of the warring groups, which strengthens the parties and prolongs the conflict. We never know what is true.
Factual information will enable us to leverage our leaders. We are the constituency for peace. It is our peace process, the peace process of South Sudanese, not the peace process of IGAD, nor of Salva Kiir, nor of Riek Machar.
Clearly, there are matters where discretion and confidentiality are necessary. But these are limited and few. When the future of our country is at stake, IGAD, we expect to hear more than the occasional press release or public statement from you on the milestones or the stalemates.
Mediators Seyoum Mesfin and Lazaro Sumbeiywo, you have decades of experience in peace processes, and have lived through the conflicts of the region. If this was a process directly concerning your own countries, Ethiopia or Kenya, if the politics of Addis or Nairobi were being discussed now, you would have every expectation that your compatriots would be involved, be informed and be included in events. South Sudanese deserve no less.
We understand that the next round of talks, due to convene on February 19, may be the last. This is welcome news if it means peace and prosperity is at hand. But we have our doubts.
We must be reassured. We need honesty and explanation. The broader the community engagement, the greater the potential for durable peace is. A more open and transparent process means we are aware of the elements of the agreements and can better hold our leaders to their word and deed.
For peace to be sustained the citizens must believe in it, must be included, must have our voices heard. This peace process cannot be the preserve of the elite. Too many processes, too many agreements in the past have used that logic. None have succeeded and almost all have contributed to this conflict.
Mediators, South Sudan is more than Juba. Please, tour our country. Tell us the news. We may be sceptical but we must hear you, in every town and many villages across this land.
Send your delegates. Translate your messages and information into our languages – English alone will not reach the masses. Be tireless in your attempts to speak to us. Do not only visit the offices of ministers and generals, of the president and other politicians. They matter, but they are not the only South Sudanese who matter.
Yes, it is tiring and time consuming and it may be tedious. But it is necessary. It is vital. After more than a year of suffering, this plea should not even be required. That it has become necessary is most unfortunate. But there is still opportunity for you to correct this situation. We are waiting.
Anyieth D’Awol is a human rights activist and Founder and Director of the ROOTS Project, a civil society organization based in Juba, South Sudan.
I totally understand your frustrations with talks in Addis. and the thirst for peace in South Sudan. I agree with you but looking at the whole drama, IGAD is not the problem, the problem is the South Sudanese politicians!. I am hesitant to call them leaders because they have not reflected at any point the principles and qualities of leadership or a leader. First and foremost, did you hear any of them talking about South Sudanese people??. The whole talking is about positions, power sharing etc which is a typical of politicians. Leaders care for their people but these ones think of positions and elections, not even about people who are going to vote. What is being discussed in Addis Ababa is politics without principles and is a reflection of destructive leadership with conscience but without humanity in heart.
Yes, we are not consulted by IGAD because the talk is concerning the people fighting for power and not concerning the purpose they have for the people. For God’s sake, what type of leaders who do not even have mercy for their people who are being uprooted from their livelihood and leaving like slaves and beggars in their own land??. What type of leaders are these two people who do not have petty on the children living in open space, under the heat and cold? Women living in unsecured environment with no privacy for even taking shower?? . Leaders who can not feel sorry for their action that put uncontrollable flow of tears from the eyes of mothers crying for their dead husbands and children???. Leaders with blood in their hands???. Leaders fighting for the control of oil field!. True leaders never fight or seek leadership or destroy people but protects people.
I really feel pain about the senseless war in south Sudan but my earnest prayer is that, The Almighty God of creation will hear our cry and shall bring us true leaders who have compassion and vision for the people of the new nation and they should remember that, “Blessed are the peace makers” and if both Kiir and Riiak want blessings, let them give the people of South Sudan their dignity and right of living in peace and work for the generations as God created them.
There was a documentary aired world-wide by some 3 “Lost Children of South Sudan” or was it Sudan in which an uncle of one of them dressed in an attire similar to that of a senior army personnel who said they “Dinkas and Neurs” fought for the country and would rule the country for 30 years before allowing others.
What has gone wrong? Is the uncle still alive? If so what has he to say?
This was to Sudantribune.com, regarding 3 articles why Equatorian government were in Ethiopia but couldn’t go thru.
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing in regards to the above “pieces” on the current political climate in our beloved country. I am writing with regrets or disappointment in our “doomed” political system; which is tribally based whether the authors of the above analysis failed to UNDERSTAND and FAILED to point out! WHY ARE THE TWO TRIBES DOMINATING THE POLITICAL ARENA? The governors of “civilized” people of Southern Sudan have the RIGHTS to represent themselves in the current government despite past writings as the country is still transitioning from “No-man land” into habitat for humanity.(Declaration of Independence and Constitutions are writings produced by men and amended over several times base on the political climate and the will of people). So changes in the government requires lobbying and making amendments in order to bring about change. So the governors of the southern regions have the RIGHTS to LOBBY for their position(s) despite being hailed from “certain tribes”. I DO NOT SEE leaders from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania refusing to accommodate Salva Kiir or Riek Machar since they are NUER and DINKA(only DOMINATED TRIBES IN POLITICS). So the attacks on the “governors” only show that ONLY TWO ELEPHANTS in the politics and the “governors” are merely elected figures to keep quiet.
PS. The rest of the world laughs at southern sudanese leaders! or africa in general. SOSA needs education and maybe we can claim OBOMA!
i really agree with you madam, this all thing has become peace jokes like the ugandan one in Nairobi IN 1985. PLEASE the people of s. sudan only need peace. may be all the two players should be killed so that peace can be achieved. thank you for telling the world the truth,papa,
My Dear sister Anyieth I am proud of you. What you have stated is true. We are being locked out of what is going on with the talks in Addis Ababa and I would even say within the country itself. Neither the government nor IGAD is able to inform the people of South Sudan at the grass root of what is really going on in Ethiopia with the peace talks. Even our mass media are silence… they are not free to inform us of how things are progressing as before… no more usual open debates… this country is not only of Salva Kiir or Riek Machar… it is ours and we need to be informed and listened to… we need to participate in the process of bringing everlasting peace. No more mere words but go “Deeper” as the catholic bishops have said in their pastoral letter and with action show us your love and concern for the people entrusted to you to lead. We don’t deserve to suffer in the hands of our own people who have given their lives for the birth of this new nation… enough the suffering we have experienced in the hands of the past oppressor. We trusted you and elected you to serve us and not to bring suffering to us again… enough is enough. NO MORE WAR NOW… WE WANT PEACE (DEVELOPMENT) NOW…
My Dear sister Anyieth I am proud of you. What you have stated is true. Though we can not deny some of the achievements of IGAD still I feel that more could be done to avoid that we are being locked out of what is really going in Addis Ababa and I would even say within the country itself… by dragging long these peace talks. Neither the government nor IGAD is able to go deeper to inform the people of South Sudan at the grass root of what is really going on in Ethiopia with the peace talks. We are being kept at the surface of this process.
We are being blessed with a number of radio stations… some even are using local languages, news papers, magazines and etc. Hence, in order to inform and involve people at grass roots in the process of bring lasting peace to our beloved country, I would suggest IGAD to spend the resources they have to use these means in making their mediation efficient and effective… I would expect IGAD to promote active, open and free debates through the mass media. This would give people at the grass root the chance to contribute for the building of everlasting peace in this bleeding country. And by doing this IGAD will collect enough material for better mediation otherwise your role will be only limited to roof of the house and not to the whole house. People are tired of listening the same refrain: “they have sign an agreement”… of what only God knows.
OUR ELDERS, WE DON’T WANT MORE WAR… WE WANT PEACE! LET US GIVE EACH OTHER THE CHANCE TO PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN THE DEVELOPING OF THIS YOUNG NATION. LET US NOT DETER THE UNFOLDING ON THE BRIGHT HOPE OF THE FUTURE OF OUR YOUNG GENERATION.
Sister Anyieth, we are with you. We are on the ground and we are seeing what is happening, but I can not comment now because am not allowed to. But we pray that God Almighty will do something for the people of South Sudan. Before God, nothing is impossible.