BY: Franco Duoth Diu, Public Administration Specialist &
Mayen Benson Nirew, BSC in Communication Development, University of Juba.
The National Dialogue, as defined by various academic documents, is a process by which two or more conflicting parties prefer to undertake a political initiative by creating a mechanism that enables them sits and negotiate in a free and conducive environment over the issues that fragmented them. As happened in other countries, the National Dialogue process is usually undertaken to achieve certain objectives critical to the unity and progress of the country. These objectives are as follows:
Sustainable peace and security
Reconciliation and healings
Building confidence, trust & love among the conflicting groups
Unity and harmony
In this connection, the National Dialogue is an importance initiative that works as catalyst for achieving national peace, unity, integration and progress in any nation. In comparison, National Reconciliation is a process through which two or more conflicting groups are reconciled to iron out their differences for purpose of achieving the socio-economic, political and development objectives of their country.
THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE IN THE CONTEXT OF SOUTH SUDAN
On December 14, 2015, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, issued a Republican Order declaring the National Dialogue. The order was received with great optimism with majority of our people viewing the initiative as a genuine process to end the current war and achieving sustainable peace and reconciliation among South Sudanese communities. This is because the South Sudanese communities were optimistic that the dialogue will provide them a platform to discuss critical causes of the conflict such as the question of system of governance, citizenship, land grabbing, non-equitable distribution of national resources, corruption, tribalism, unemployment and other social problems facing the young republic of South Sudan.
In a sequential manner, the President of the Republic took another bold decision by appointing 109 members of the National Dialogue Steering Committee from which 15 un patriotic members declined from taking up their positions due to lack of their commitment towards the love of this country and its people. This is because they view the dialogue as a government property while the initiative is the belonging and the property of South Sudanese communities.
The third episode was the launching of the National Dialogue on 22nd May, 2017, by the President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and witnessed by national and foreign dignitaries. On the same day, the co-chairpersons and the sub-committees’ chairpersons were appointed. Subsequently, the Steering Committee of the National Dialogue immediately started with their duties and responsibilities which is the preaching of the gospel of National Dialogue.
However, the criterion through which the states’ representatives were selected was not a community based consultation. The mechanism of selecting the representatives of the states would have served as an instrument for achieving the most desired objective of the National Dialogue. We are saying this because some of the representatives have never visited the areas they represent since the eruption of the conflict in December 2013 up to today. Leaders who are known by the people and familiar with the situation on the ground should have been the best choice in order for the dialogue to succeed.
THE INCLUSIVITY OF THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE
Since the National Dialogue is defined as means or mechanism through which serous social cleavages are resolved and bring about political transformations, it is therefore necessary for the National Dialogue steering committee to start the process of National Dialogue at the grass root levels. This is an area where the magnitude of conflict is so immersed; and it is the level which should first be targeted by the National Dialogue Steering Committee.
The National Dialogue steering committee should also seize the principle of inclusivity for the success of the process by involving community leaders such as chiefs, spiritual leaders, youth groups, women leaders, faith-based groups and the elderly people who matters in the society. The National Dialogue at states’ level will need a lot of efforts to be exerted by those who will be active in the negotiating arena at states. This is because the ongoing conflict has destroyed the social fabrics of our people; it has also created a significant amount of hatred to the extent that it would not be an easy task to reconcile those communities once and for all.
The criteria of selecting members of the National Dialogue at states’ level should be consultative. This means that the subcommittees representing states in the National Dialogue Steering Committee should be the one to identify the right people who will help them achieve the most the desired goal of the National Dialogue. The selection of the members of the states’ subcommittees should be free from the influence of the States’ Governors due to the fact that the dialogue was declared as a community-led process so that its ownership is primarily communal. In this case, the communities of South Sudan will not perceive the process as a property of the Governors, a scenario which will make the dialogue successful.
THE NATIONAL DIALOGUE IN THE CONTEXT OF GREATER UNITY STATE
In greater Unity State, there are places where the National Dialogue will easily make a breakthrough. These places are as follows:
Ruweng State is a state whose citizens have never been affected or fractured by the December 2013 crisis and for that matter; it will be easy for the National Dialogue to be successful. Secondly, the border areas between Northern Liech and Ruweng States have been relatively peaceful since the eruption of the conflict in December 2013. As a result, the relationship between Northern Liech and Ruweng states has been significantly cordial.
Northern Liech State
Conversely, the National Dialogue in Northern Liech State will to a larger extent achieve its most desired goal and objective because the leadership of Northern Liech State under Dr. Joseph Manytuil Wejang has a wider acceptance and by extension undertake serious mobilization of the population in the state behind the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. Secondly, the coming of the First Vice President of the Republic, H.E Gen. Taban Deng Gai, to continue the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) has significantly made it possible for different sections in the state to embrace and accept the peace agreement. It can therefore be concluded that the National Dialogue in essence has succeeded in Northern Liech State without doubt.
Southern Liech State
As for Southern Liech State, the National Dialogue will most likely face difficulties in achieving its objective in the state because the communities in the state are not under one umbrella. This is manifested by the fact that some communities are far from Government control areas. In order to bring those communities back to Government control areas, there is urgency for the government to use special techniques to demobilize the population in Southern Liech State from rebel propaganda and join the process of the National Dialogue and National Reconciliation. This will be achieved through frequent use of public rallies, peace & reconciliation conferences, and extensive engagement of traditional leadership, spiritual leaders, youth groups (Gojam leaders), women groups and elderly people who exert much influence in the society. For the success of this important exercise, both the National Government and the Government of Southern Liech State will need to mobilize both human and financial resources to facilitate the process.
In conclusion, the level to which the acceptance of the National Dialogue in the states will depend mostly on the public perception of the states’ administrations to which those communities belong. If the communities are happy with their state leadership, then the National Dialogue will most likely succeed. The National Dialogue is a communiqué of truth and apart from that noble objective; it will definitely lose its meaning. In normal circumstances, National Dialogue defines the legacy of hard times and good times through which the population of a certain geographical entity had gone through. Hence, there is a great need for the leadership of the country to critically examine the current problems facing some of the states in the Republic of South Sudan to avoid the dangers of working in a waste. We therefore urge every citizen in the Republic of South Sudan to stay faithful and honest to The Almighty Father during and after the National Dialogue so that our nation reclaims its previous glory. May the Lord bless our country and its people abundantly, Amen!
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