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How Many Would Arrive With Riek If 586 Persons Form SPLA-IO’s Advanced Team?

The leadership of SPLA-IO is still behaving as though clinging to the mood of war rather than of peace. Insisting that it must send an Advance Team comprising of now 586 delegates beats the logic both politically and economically. But what disturbs me more is that the decision is seemingly detached from reality and expectations of Peace Partners. It is not practical economically unless IO is not for reconstruction of the nation ruined by war, to expect dispatching 586 delegates to Juba at this moment. The undertaking is not in good taste. The Armed Opposition went further as to say its team represents another controversial 21 states its leadership created earlier. It seems to me that it is looking for an opportunity to delay the implementation or disregard peace. Before I proceed I wish to make it clear that I am not in opposition to the return to Juba of members of SPLM-IO. They are citizens of South Sudan and can live anywhere in the country. But 586 officials the SPLM/A-IO leadership insists must be transported to Juba beg many questions. They are officials; meaning they would require special treatment such as state protection, decent accommodation, feeding and transportation by the three levels of government, namely center, state, and local government (County) levels. That is to say their immediate needs rest on the shoulders of the government in Juba, state government and local government, respectively. Therefore, such undertaking will cost huge sums of money that the current status of our economy would not afford. I wonder what 100 officials cannot handle that warrants 586 persons to be flown to Juba. Members of the advance team are guests of the peace partner (SPLM IG), thus government is expected to shoulder needs and to take good care of them at all levels. Catering for 586 officials isn’t a small thing unless there is a hidden agenda that is not visible to everyone; the IO wants to achieve. If sending 586 delegates to Juba were in line with normality and in good taste or prerequisite for implementation of the agreement, it would not warrant anyone’s concern. Revisiting periods of Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, I vividly recall that the government of the Sudan received us from the Airport and catered for our security, accommodation, etc. and the funds spent on our delegation comprising nearly 200 delegates; now what about the ever-increasing figures of IO delegates? The leadership of SPLM under Dr. John Garang arrived at the above number after considering the size and economy of 25 states of the Sudan. It is not clear which formula IO Leadership applied to arrive at the figure other than saying it is distributing the numbers across the 21 states of South Sudan, which doesn’t exist. Perhaps, one would imagine that IO leadership is imitating the same idea of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, but in an exaggerated manner. 

However, I don’t understand it when an authority that has committed (itself) to the Compromise Peace Agreement would not put into consideration the economy of the nation it envisages being part of rebuilding. The concept of Compromise Peace Agreement translates into new paradigm shift in that there will be one government working to put together the broken nation. By peace agreement, the State is forming one government to rescue the country’s economy, repair broken trust, social cohesion, and transforming the nation, to mention a few.  It is no longer Kiir or clique’s government, but a National Transitional Government comprised of all the parties to peace. If any of the parties to Peace Agreement thinks taking a decision like to trampling upon the economy in order to fail the other awaits a big shock. Just as ‘tomorrow success begins today’ also today’s failures began yesterday. Success of the National Transitional Government depends on being considerate to the people when taking decisions concerning issues of national importance. 

 

The issues I expect to hear from the leaders of all the political divide is how they could collectively repair the damaged economy, alleviate suffering (of citizens) brought about by the senseless war, etc. but not how one wants to incur unreasonable expenses in the name of peace. 

Taking decisions geared towards sabotaging efforts aimed at alleviating the suffering of the people gives me reasons to think that the nation is not at the center of the heart of that particular leadership. Caring about the nation should be seen in the way decisions regarding rebuilding the nation’s economy, governance, reconciliation, reform etc. are reached and not how to disadvantage the above efforts. It may not matter as who is contributing to the funding of transportation, accommodation, and feeding of 586 officials of the IO Advance Team, the bottom line is that the resources spent on implementation recklessly or prudently will aggregate to pool of “Rebuilding South Sudan” project. This includes repatriations and rehabilitation of IDPs.

Whether Troika or EU or IGAD or government of South Sudan pays the above cost, still the disadvantage here is the broken nation, South Sudan. The signatories to Peace, the SPLM in Government and SPLM Leaders, SPLM IO and other Political parties have got a moral obligation to consider each other as peace Partners, avoiding picking on the other and debating petty issues, but on the real issues pertaining to peace as well bringing the nation back to its cohesive units. The key factor should not be how to put partners into difficult positions, but how to work together. 

When one considers limited spaces in terms of Hotel accommodation, feeding of delegates and transportation one may not ascertain the logic behind sending 586 persons as the Advance Team. How many would arrive in Juba with Riek if 586 persons form IO Advance Team? I can only imagine it as an attempt to indirectly create unnecessary burden to the donors, leadership in Center and other levels of the governments as the above would have to cope with meeting transportation bother inter-countries and internally, accommodation, and feeding. 

Initially the IO wanted its Advance Team to comprise of 500 members but this figure fluctuated and finally grew to 586 now; indicating that there is no genuine efforts if not leadership at the side of the IO. Perhaps this does not represent an advance team but an agenda the leadership of IO has not revealed to the nation. 

In the same light the Presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, is on record for asking for biographies of those delegates coming to Juba. This is neither practical nor represents good faith. But all said and done, IO needs to be told simply that their demands is not supporting the speedy implementation of the peace nor helping the struggling economy.

I am also very concerned about the continued violations of the ceasefire. The situation that is unfolding in Western Equatoria state and Western Bhar el Ghazal where fresh attacks against the government and vice versa were reported. With the current situation, one would have reason to worry as lives continue to be lost although the very parties violating it are the same who signed it. We all must put the interest of our nation first. The nation’s interest centers on people and not individual leaders or groups. 

 

The opinion above does not represent the views of the government of the Republic of South Sudan or The Nation Mirror. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


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