The African women’s Lobby (AWL) pushes the Government of South Sudan and all Oppositions to work for sustainable peace and development. There is no better way to do this than the absence of war.
A Brief Report of AWL Series of Discussions with South Sudanese Government officials and Opposition leaders Date: 3rd March to 5th December 2021, Released on June 28, 2022
Following the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) in 2018, and the Rome Talks. The parties agreed that AWL shall act as an observer in the peace talk.
Effective dialogue is a necessary component of finding durable solutions to substantially reduce distrust and the gap between all parties. The series of AWL webinars on finding durable solutions is both an essential means of ensuring that facts and good policies are provided for the people, and a clear signal that conflicts are a major problem for all (government, oppositions, citizens and others who are working in the anti-war field). In practice, however, this remains a challenging task for all parties to engage directly and work together for durable solutions as reflected in this report. This means parties’ positions differ, despite significant efforts at the national, and regional levels on peace talks aimed at increasing cooperation and dialogue on matters of finding durable solutions.
AWL engage all parties to work together for durable solutions, especially when the parties’ positions differ as listed here below present the positions of all:
The Real-SPLM Position
Mr. Pa’gan Amum Okiech, the leader of Real – SPLM, pointed out that “the current revitalized peace Agreement has been imposed on South Sudanese parties by the former government of Sudan of President Omar el Bashir […] this agreement was designed to consolidate the regime of President, it was not meant to be implemented; it was an attempt to make the opposition give in to the then incumbent government of President Kiir in return they receive positions in the executive and parliamentary seats without real power to effect change. A peace agreement without bringing any real peace to the people of South Sudan.” He added that “A peace agreement without bringing any real peace to the people of South Sudan.”
Mr. Pa’gan Amum further explained that “for South Sudanese to have a successful transition to peace and democracy and to achieve stability in the country, it is vital to have a paradigm shift away from the failed and dysfunctional transitional governments formed by the parties to the conflict to forming a caretaker government of technocrats consisting of South Sudanese professionals, who have no political interests or ambition for elected positions, but who can reboot and stabilize the system of governance in South Sudan.”
On coming elections, Mr. Pa’gan said that “the government of technocrats is not only to build the state’s institutions, but also , organize free and fair elections at the end of the transition in which the people of South Sudan can elect their government. That way usher the country into a stable political system and normalcy.” Pa’gan Amum elaborated that “this technocratic government can easily win support from the region and international community because they are professionals and not political personalities interested in governing.” He further explained that this “technocratic government will be neutral and professionals who are only interested in building the system, including the electrical system and accounting system that is very transparent and cannot be manipulated, and they can be trusted”.
Pa’gan Amum concluded that “the Real-SPLM is to return the real vision and core values, pressuring the Real SPLM vision and making it come ture and contribute to the realization of the dream of the South Sudanese people who deserves to live a dignified life”. As such he also added “it is essential to have the government of technocrats who will put the electrical system in place, and thereby, the people of South Sudan will be able to elect their leaders in a free and fair election based on programs or/and manifestation the political parties provide […] Only when the government of technocrats is in place, then all political parties will be out of the government but will support this government of Technocrats. Political parties will be out of the government to organize and prepare themselves for elections.”
The SSUF/A Position
According to the SSUF/A, leader Mr. Paul Malong Awan, “first and foremost, there must be disarmament, to enable the government to protect the citizens from enemies within and outside”. Mr. Paul Malong, declared that “Peace is bigger than what the war has taken away, so coming together with the great communication of dialogue to achieve cohesion through understanding is the solution”. He also said that “SSUF/A want unity of South Sudanese people and that leaders shall unite; Unity is important, all opposition groups need to come together and work together as a team through dialogue with other political parties so that we can bring peace and peaceful coexistence.”
In regard to the question for the coming elections, Mr. Paul Malong, points out that “ there is currently a weak government in South Sudan. Thus the people of South Sudan need a strong government […]” Malong explained that “there is an internal conflict between different tribes and within the tribes, for example issues of cattle rustling, inter-clan fighting continue to reign. No one is getting along with each other because people are not sitting together and discussing their disputes with the assistance of a strong government that can help them identify root or structural causes of the problems and then resolve them”.
Furthermore, Mr. Paul Malong also said that “land grabbing is a problem, especially in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. When we see land grabbing that is deeply a concern – for example, I bought a piece of commercial land that was not meant for sale. Still, someone else who settled the dispute by paying 11 months rent to the landowner […].” The point here is for “all not to claim community land by grabbing it or using arms as a tool to loot the property of innocent civilians.” A key point is that to return the land back to the real owner has a large degree that can help understand the public opinion of peace. Moreover, Mr. Paul Malong also pointed out that “corruption is a real problem”. He further explained that it is the government’s job to resolve such issues. “Only strong government policies can address and resolve the issues of land issues and corruption and security issues. Our societies are broadly addressing a lot of the concerns, and we have listened to people. Therefore, the SSUF/A wants reform to save the country, its national security to promote peace and protect the rights of people”. He added that “SSUF/A wants the powers to be checked and balanced, and all must be under the rule of law.”A key point is that “if the rights of citizens are violated then we have a problem. Second, the effective protection of rights of all is associated with justice”.
He concluded that “leaders who have fought many battles for this country had been humiliated and disrespected[…] I was forced into opposition by the government, being outside the country is not my choice. The refugees who left the country are not by choice, they have been forced to leave their home. therefore all of the parties – the leaders should promise what they can deliver to the people to promote physical, mental, spiritual, and economic protection of all people”.
The NDM/PF Position
According to the NDM/PF leader, Amb. Emmanuel Ajawin ” the NDM/PF concern is that there are older leaders – older leadership should give a chance to younger generations. That change is needed. young generations will play a critical role in building successful economic transformation and public service to the people. Furthermore, the country ruled by elders leaders is not moving forward; instead, it is a more aggressive one. If only they can give a chance for the younger generations, positive change would have happened.”
Amb. Ajawin mentioned that “the presidential system has developed a dictatorship in the country followed by the lack of the rule of law. South Sudan needs a parliamentary sovereignty” which fuses the executive with the legislative power.
Amb. Emmanuel Ajawin pointed out that “People are not getting along, and that is because leaders are using tribes to their political advantage” Ajawin explained, that “leaders have become corrupt with no vision to build a country through this presidential system and tribalism. As he said, “4 billion dollars that went missing to 75 individuals as funds for building a hospital that was to equip hospitals and save lives”.
In regard to questions about the coming elections, Amb. Ajawin said that “the NDM/PF wants South Sudan’s economy to rise, to do so it focuses on Industrial and technology Development, including building manufacturers and training young people to lead the industries. The youth needs to be empowered.” He explained that – examples of industrial production that could have been made in the country. Essentially he lamented in-depth about putting economic value, adding to the agriculture sector to promote youth engagement in fighting against poverty; to boost education sector, Health, and employment opportunities as a solution to the generational pathway to exit poverty.”
Furthermore, Amb. Ajawin added that “the NDM-PF aims to empower women and young people and include them in the leadership of the movement/party.” He concluded that the NDM-PF is committed to peace and changes through a non-violence approach. However, Ajawin mentioned “the challenge that NDM-PF faces in dealing with issues of peace is how to reach the population of South Sudan”.
The NAS Position
As mentioned earlier, the leader of NAS, Gen. Thomas Cirillo was invited/informed about AWL’s initiative. Thus, Mr. Thomas Cirillo didn’t engage directly in discussion. However, only initial steps have been made by NAS in this regard – for example, Ms. Tereza Leila Jube, one of the NAS secretaries, introduces to AWL some NAS documents, such as their political Ideology. According to information we received from Ms Tereza, “the NAS wants an inclusive modern South Sudan […] Peaceful and prosperous South Sudan that ensures freedom, justice, equality and the rule of law”. The NAS said that “The government has failed to forge a common South Sudanese identity that is inclusive of all ethnicities in the country.” Furthermore, according to Ms. Tereza Leila Jube, one of the secretaries, “the NAS wants equality between all people,” but we don’t have the concept that women have 35% or so. It’s equal rights between women and men in NAS.”
The Government Position
Ambassador. Joshua Franco Paul highlighted that “peace is paramount. the R-ARCSS is essential, and the government with oppositions inside the country are implementing it well”. He pointed out that “the government wants sustainable peace to save the country and create a suitable environment for dialogue toward sustainable development.” Amb. Joshua further explained that “the unity of South Sudanese is important, and the government and opposition inside are committed to implement R-ARCSS, acting as a solution for the current situation. The Government holds a desire for sustainable peace in South Sudan”.
Ambassador. Joshua also said that “the government wants all including outstanding opposition to return and strengthen peace. The R-ARCSS to a large degree can help find the solution, absence of peace can create instability”.
On the questions of Land Grabbing, Amb. Joshua said that “Land grabbing is the contentious issue of large-scale which most of the outstanding oppositions point-out. The government has formed a committee dealing with the issues of Land Grabbing, as well as there are also committees for border security issues in place”. According to the Government officials “ R-ARCSS Implementation has resulted in a Marked Reduction in Conflicts across Many Parts of the Country & Peace is already being felt by Citizens”.
In regards to questions about the concerns of migrants and refugees, another official said that “ Displaced individuals, eager to return Home and Restart their Lives. Peace is vital for Durable Solution […] South Sudan South established Strategy and Plan of Action for Refugees, among , such as establish a Supportive Framework for South Sudanese-Migrants, Refugees, IDPs, Migrant-Workers, Diaspora & Host Communities, Find Sustainable Durable Solutions, Achieve Lasting Peace in the Country and the Region at Large. And anchored and guided by the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (RARCSS)”.
The government officials highlighted that “according to UNHCR, as of May 2021 over 375,000 Refugees from the Neighboring Countries have returned to South Sudan. Since 2017, 1.3 million IDPs have returned to South Sudan […] Most Refugees continue to speak of a Future back in South Sudan, while IDPs long to see home. Yet, they also spoke of their Concerns.” The Government officials added that “whereas other countries are hosting South Sudanese who left the country, South Sudan also hosts over 320,000 Refugees from Several Countries.”
Nevertheless, concerning the challenges faced by young people and special university students who have been described as ‘future leaders’. Hon. Beatrice Khamisa Wani, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Dr. Justo Wani Jada, Director General for higher education, reaffirmed South Sudan’s commitment to continue working towards enhanced cooperation to address the challenges that face both students/young people and that the government are jointly for finding durable solutions.
According to government officials, The government is also determined to continue striving for concrete solutions, and cooperation within and amongst the ministries, including members of parliament have attended and highlighted their concerns which were already addressed in AWL first conference (AWL conference on Thematic meeting “Challenges faced by South Sudan Students in Egypt: Discussion in AWL first conference 18 june 2021)
AWL Calls for South Sudan Peace Conference
The AWL is helping the dialogue between citizens, government and opposition. The AWL is striving for a larger context where the Global Agenda Goal: 16 with a focus on peace, justice and security, is a high priority for the people and for AWL and is a cornerstone of AWL policy – protection of the people demands for sustainable peace and development.
Therefore AWL wants to hold a three days consultative conference on South Sudan peace this year 2022. To do this conference, AWL needs funding support from the government, oppositions, Sant’Egidio Community, and friends of South Sudan that can fully sponsor this conference. Their Support will also boost cooperation within and between all parties and friends.
Why is the AWL initiative important?
Responding to a question on why AWL Initiative is important, here are some expression from both government and opposition leaders:
- Amb. Joshua expressed that: “Peace is vital for sustainable solutions and the role of AWL and Diaspora for peace are good and welcome for when we come together for peace we can achieve the common well-being of humanity and everlasting peace.” He added that ” unlike other groups, the AWL is a neutral organization that is significantly focusing on improving positive effectiveness including constructive criticism […]”
- Pa’gan Amum, expressed that “the AWL plays an important role and is very much welcomed, and I want to encourage AWL members to aim high and achieve peace in South Sudan, the African Continent, and the rest of the world. Our Societies at this stage are male-dominated. This male dominance also brought wars and conflicts because if not checked, male energy can tend into dominant things to impose their will and be corrupt. This male energy is largely based on egoism and greed. It has to be balanced. It is productive energy, but it can become destructive. Therefore it has to be checked to bring a balance between the two energies that form the human being, that is, the males and females energies. Only if the male energy is checked, we can reduce dominant aspects of the conflict, wars and destructive elements and then we can create an environment of productivity that can lead to striving human-being”.
- Mr. Paul Malong Awan highlighted that AWL role is so vital “many South Sudanese had lost their fathers in the war, as such women are very important. My mother is the one who raised me. He further expressed that “the SSUF/A has recognized AWL and respects women. Secondly, the AWL initiative will be revolutionary for better South Sudan and Africa”.
- Amb. Ajawin expressed that “the AWL’s initiative for peace has a specific goal; continuing to seek peace is a welcome idea”. He further added that “South Sudanese need to come together to bring a fundamental change.”
- Dr. Justo Wani Jada, Director General and Acting Undersecretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, said that AWL is an important organization for the “Ministry of Higher Education, Science and technology, we want thank AWL for the counseling services, mentorship, and mediation intervention in minimizing the challenges faced by South Sudanese students in Egypt.”
- Diaspora leaders among others, Mr Hakim Jouk, Mr Tut Gatwech, Mr Flix Demo, just to mention a few agreed that “AWL initiative for finding solutions is a good approach focusing on how to close the gap between outstanding opposition, Citizens and government” The Diaspran, further expressed that, “ we will work together with AWL to push for sustainable peace in South Sudan”. The process of these Webinar discussions provided an opportunity for the South Sudanese government, opposition, citizens and Diaspora to engage in dialogue for peace. The Diaspora believed they could do more than just assist South Sudan, and are looking for a way to reach what they believed was their full potential with a focus on politicians and journalists. Also, Diaspora as international actors were impressed and they said that the role of AWL “simply represent[ed] the demands of people and Diaspora.”
The Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU): https://docs.pca-cpa.org/2016/02/South-Sudan-Peace-Agreement-September-2018.pdf
The Rome Declaration and the Rome Resolution: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2020-01/south-sudan-rome-declaration-pope-saint-egidio.html
Anchored and guided by the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (RARCSS)”: Read more here: https://data.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/91426
UNHCR calls for renewed commitment to South Sudan’s peace, development, and future:
https://www.unhcr.org/tr/29737-unhcr-calls-for-renewed-commitment-to-south-sudans-peace-development-and-future.html & See also South Sudan RRP – Mid Year Report: https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/89113
The Real SPLM is a new organization we have formed in order to mobilize and reorganize the SPLM members who are committed to the SPLM vision as designed by the late founder Dr. John Garang de Mabior,”https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/south-sudan-s-amum-unveils-new-party
The South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) led by ex-army chief Gen. Paul Malong Awan. Until 16 May 2017 Malong was the Chief of General Staff (COGS) of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The Chief of General Staff was the highest-ranking military officer in the SPLA (now South Sudan People’s Defense Forces).
Emmanuel Ajawin, the leader of the National Democratic Movement-Patriotic Front (NDM-PF), was appointed as the Secretary-General of the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), read more here; https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/ndm-pf-s-ajawin-appointed-ssoma-secretary-general