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The images of South Sudan – Speak of the Urgent Need for Peace Implementation

By Kuyang Harriet Logo Mulukwat

Two years ago, South Sudan descended into a conflict with itself and little did we know that the conflict will rage on for over two years. The Government and the SPLM/IO convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the aftermath of the first violence to amicably resolve the conflict. Sadly, despite the commitment of both parties, peace is a long way coming. It has been achieved on paper, but there are significant challenges when it comes to the implementation of the agreement that was signed on the 27th of August of last year. Both parties do not have the logistics to conclude the security arrangements, especially the movement and deployment of the SPLM/IO forces to the proposed areas – this has affected the formation of a joint force consisting of the SPLA and the SPLM/IO forces. It is becoming a long wait for all citizens who are hoping that the process of the implementation of the peace agreement would move fast, so that things can get back to normal.

Now as it is, everybody seems to be suggesting that the return of the Vice President designate will improve the economic situation. That’s not necessarily the case. His return means that the process of the implementation of the peace agreement will proceed unhindered and in the process, donors and friends of South Sudan will contribute significant sums of their tax payers’ money to support recovery programme before progressively moving towards institutional strengthening and nation building. I read an article in one of the daily newspapers in Uganda and the writer captured the situation of the citizens in one of the saddest images I have seen. In the picture, a woman was pictured squatting near a burnt area. The area might have been Malakal or any other where the conflict has significantly razed all habitats. She was thin and frail. We have seen worse images some more gross than the one I have just described and they all speak of the need to expedite the process of peace implementation. There is hope that South Sudan will recover and there is hope that we will learn from the pains of the recent crisis and take a stand that conflict will not recur in this country. The images speak of extreme poverty and of living in some of the worst conditions in the conflict affected areas.

The images tell us that there is despair in the affected population and even those who had thought that they were safe are now feeling the effects of the economic crisis. The prices are soaring daily and as the citizens try to survive on their own – something has to be done very fast and that starts with the implementation of the peace agreement. Every time there is a delay in the implementation of the peace agreement, we all die a little. There are examples of other countries that have gone through similar crises in the past and they have determinedly emerged and moved progressively towards ensuring that they will not fight again. One such country is East Timor, which shares a similar history with South Sudan. They had their political crisis which was very bloody and very quickly they negotiated a settlement and put their differences aside. South Sudan can do the same.

However, timing is of essence in this particular regard. The longer the peace implementation process stalls, the more the images of South Sudanese will get more deplorable. We all see the images and we are extremely frustrated! The image of the woman squatting in a burnt area haunts me. I know many South Sudanese carry similar images. During the International Women’s day reception at the US Residence in Juba, several women toasted to their achievements. I am usually no talker and chit chatting is not my thing. But in this particular event I spoke to one outstanding lady who had lived outside of South Sudan for nearly all her life. So I asked her why she returned to South Sudan – she told me she returned because of the conflict. She lost many relatives and felt she was duty bound to return home to make a difference. She told me that the future of this nation lay in our hands. I nodded to all that she said, but I know that at that time in point, we were all silently reliving the images in our minds and souls.

I know all the stakeholders at the front and those behind the scenes are working to expedite the implementation of the peace agreement because just like the citizens of South Sudan, they have their images – horrible painful images. These images are what haunts us and they are the reason that the implementation of the peace process need to be expedited.

 

The Writer is a South Sudanese Lawyer and a Senior Consultant on Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law and teaches on a part time basis at the College of Law of the University of Juba. She can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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