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Two armies in South Sudan is the self-confession of the failed state

By David Aoloch Bion

The warring parties, the Government and rebels SPLM/A O have agreed to command separate armies during the interim period like the Sudan had two armies, the SPLA and SAF in the interim period (2005 -2011) before South Sudan separated from Sudan. The SPLA was kept as separate army to safeguard the referendum to determine whether South Sudan can be an independent state or remain in the united Sudan.

Today, on the above mentioned precedent, the Government and the rebels have agreed to have the separate armies in the peace talk mediated by IGAD in Addis Abba.  This propounds many questions like- what is the SPLM/A O going to safeguard?  Do the SPLM/A O want to have independent country like SPLA wanted to have South Sudan before?  Are these two army, militias or the national armies? Is South Sudan with two armies a sovereign state or stateless territory controlled by warlords? Is the agreement not a peace agreement but short break for war that will resume after 30 months of interim period?

All in all, from the disinterest point of view, the two armies in South Sudan is self-acknowledgment that South Sudan is a ‘’failed state’’ It is self –confession that South Sudan is ‘’stateless territory’’ controlled by ‘’warlords’’. It is self –declaration that South Sudan is a divided ‘’two countries’’, one ruled by Kiir, one ruled by Riek. It is self admission that the individuals like Mr Kiir and Mr Riek are either ‘’above the state’’ or ‘’are state themselves’’.

What is the objective of keeping two armies?  Is it to protect individuals like Mr. Kiir and Mr. Riek? Is to protect power from the one who has it like Mr. Kiir? Or is it to seize power from someone like Kiir and give it to somebody like Riek?

In black and white, the two armies will not see themselves as friends or comrades but as enemies as it happened in Malakal during the interim period. Two fighting took place in Malakal because of three separate armies; there were SPLA JIU, SAF JIU and Gabriel Tanginya Army. SPLA JIU was in South Malakal, SAF JIU was in North Malakal, and Tanginya Army was between Malakal airport and Upper Nile University .Each army had its own check point.  Tanginya Army  erected a check point between the town and the airport , his(Tanginya ) forces checked and searched anyone passing through their  check point, which  later on provoked the  fighting that involved the three armies in Malakal. Therefore ,  if there are two armies ,  fighting will erupt not by  orders  of   any commander  but because of rudest  check and search from Check  points of  separate  armies . It can happen at one check point like in Bentiu but will involve the whole South Sudan into fighting like one check point dispute in Malakal involved three armies into fighting.

In fact, in last 11 months, SPLM/A O led by Riek had failed to take power from Kiir; therefore, they will not take it even if they are commanded separately. Furthermore, integration cannot stop any soldier from fighting if he wants to fight. Last December, the army was integrated and mixed but they fought, therefore, integration cannot prevent soldiers from fighting.

Immediate Integration of the two armies is the best solution and best hope for South Sudanese who are thirsty for peace. Integration will assure the people that peace has come; integration will build trust and confidence among the people of South Sudan. Integration will promote reconciliation and healing. What are you going to tell the people in the Reconciliation and Healing conference during the interim period, if there are two armies? Two armies during interim period mean fighting is not stopped yet.

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