STEPHEN PAR KUOL: South Sudan in the Shadow of Global Transitions
ALASKA – The year 2017 will go down in the history of the contemporary world as a year of multiple global transitions. From the UN Headquarters in New York to Washington D.C, London and the African Union headquarters in Addis-Ababa, the capitals of global power are going through overwhelming political and administrative transitions. Batons are being handed over to new guards and the old guards are going home in earnest. Experiences have it that changes can bring progress, but they can also be detrimental to institutional memory on timely critical matters. In another word, the shock waves and hurdles of transition from one administration to another can delay actions on issues that demand urgent attention. Evidently, some of those transitional leaderships might not settle down to pinpoint their pressing internal and external policy priorities until next year. What is humanely worth noting though is that in the shadow of such transitions with competing priorities, hangs South Sudan in the balance of simmering civil war, famine, displacement, genocide and extreme human suffering. The rest is; a protracted mass indignation in the war weary nascent nation!
It goes without informing the records that the world has finally pronounced the unpronounceable (genocide) in South Sudan. That is the telling tale of all times! What goes untold though is the gruesome tale that Salva Kiir Mayardit has subjected the people of South Sudan to systematic genocide, not last year or this year, but since 2006. In fact, nothing has changed in term of adherence. What has changed is the lethality of the weapons currently used (gunships and tanks) to perfect its fatal accuracy. Unfortunately, the prevailing narrative among pundits in some circles of global power is still presenting it either as looming or diminishing threat. Even Mr. Adama Dieng, the UN Special Advisor on prevention of genocide has only warned the world of what he called “ the risk or potential for genocide in South Sudan”. Just like in that human tragedy of Rwanda, describing this progressive inhumanity in future tense is another betrayal to the humanity of the communities at the receiving end of Kiir’s policy of mass extermination.
Thus, the new guard in those capitals of global power are hereby reminded that they owe it to our collective humanity and posterity to push the plight of South Sudanese people to the top of their agendum. Having proposed that, it must be reiterated that putting it in the policy agenda is one thing, but getting it right is another thing. As publicly acknowledged by Obama’s own envoy, Ambassador Donald Booth in his recent presentation at the US Peace Institute, Obama put the South Sudanese crisis in his foreign policy agenda but got it all wrong. True, serious diplomatic blunders have been made including isolating the largest armed opposition (SPLM/A (IO) and other stakeholders that led the country to peace in July 2015. This erroneous policy by the so-called guarantors has not ended the crisis. It has only given Salva Kiir more incentive eliminate political space, pushing the opposition either to armed resistance or depressing limbo in exile.
In pursuit of its zero-sum military solution, the regime is currently launching a dry season scorch earth campaign of genocide throughout the country. As if that is not enough, the fascist regime has introduced state terrorism. Of late, it has embarked on kidnaping opposition leaders and prominent human right activists with refugee status under international humanitarian law in foreign capitals. The victims of such terror are currently languishing in the regime’s ghost houses in Juba where they are subjected to torturous and inhumane treatment. Many have perished in the brutal hands of the regime’s ruthless hoodlums. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called South Sudan “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.”
Despite the chilling truth that the country’s economy is at the collapsing stage, the regime is continuing with its fascist fiscal policy of spending more than 60% of the total oil revenues on its tribal war machine infamously known as Mathiang- Anyor. Using the sovereign guarantee privilege, the regime has also mortgaged the future of South Sudan through foreign loans to purchase weapons of mass destruction. Under the prevailing institutionalised graft, Kiir’s war diplomacy is grossly extravagant! According to inside leakages from the presidency, the recent presidential visit taking an entourage of 61 government officials to the Ethiopian capital Addis-Ababa has cost South Sudan (1.3 million USD). This has been done with straight face on the backdrop of economic and humanitarian crisis in the country.
For the worst part, Kiir’s regime has been using food as a weapon of war amidst famine. Humanitarian aid workers have been facing serious challenges including attacks, harassment, intimidation, access constraints and bureaucratic impediments. The latest episode is the policy of raising cost of work permit for foreign aid workers operating in South Sudan to ten thousand South Sudanese pounds ( $10,000 USD). International aid workers have also been lynched and rapped. At least 67 aid workers have been killed since December 2013.Presently, South Sudan ranks second only to Syria as a source of refugees in the world. The total number of South Sudanese refugees has reached to more than 1 million. Of the 1.6 million internally displaced persons, some 200,000 have sought refuge in United Nations protection of civilians’ sites.
As mentioned a fore, the point Iam driving home to the global powers with punch and clouts is that the onus is still on them to quickly end this Kiir’s made catastrophe in South Sudan by bringing concrete pressure to bear on him to stop the on-going campaign of genocide, release all the prisoners of conscience, allow humanitarian access, open up political space for dialogue on resuscitation of the Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCIS) and deter the prevailing impunity through expedition of the judicial process as stipulated in the said agreement.
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