23 Oct 2018

 

South Sudan Hinging Between War And Peace

...South Sudanese citizenry and the Church believe that in order to make HLRF work successfully, it will need the international community to bring pressure to bear on the opposition groups to unite, present one common peace agenda and confront the Incumbent Transitional Government of National Unity"

 
BY Hon Arop Madut Arop
 
In accordance to the timeline set by the IGAD led High Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF), the second talk is expected to reconvene possibly during the first week of February 2018. The second meeting is set to discuss the signing of the permanent ceasefire agreement and a search for the type of governance that will suit the people of South Sudan.
 
The key to the success of the up-coming February meeting will largely depend on how possibly Revitalisation Forum will harmonise the two positions held by the government and the opposition groups. There are fears that the terms used by the conveners, the incumbent government and the opposition groups may frustrate the upcoming peace process, as each may interpret the others’ terms differently.
 
In the first place, the Government would want to revise or rearrange the clauses of the August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Crisis in South Sudan (ARCSS) document. The opposition groups, on the other hand, would want to renegotiate the said peace deal or resuscitate it.
 
In both cases, the two words: revitalise or resuscitate are synonymous words in English Language, but differ only in their usage and the importance the user attaches to them or intends to achieve.
 
As regard to the signing of permanent ceasefire and definition of the type of governance that will be acceptable to the people of South Sudan; observers are of the opinion that, despite the reported numerous ceasefire violations, the South Sudanese stakeholders may be pressured by the international community to silence the guns and accept peace for the interest of their people. Regardless, there is still a glimpse of hope that permanent ceasefire will be signed.
 
Concerning the type of governance that will be discussed in the February meeting, it would appear that, all the South Sudanese stakeholders taking part in the current peace talks are agreed that a federal system of governance will be suitable for the people of the young republic. Again, the word federalism, like revitalisation, revision or resuscitation, is a lopsided term used by nearly all the countries of the wide world with some variations.
 
Federalism or Federal Type of Governance
Before I start talking about the type of governance that will be discussed by the Revitalisation Forum, I would like to underline the fact that, my interest in writing this piece is not to give an expert knowledge to the stakeholders. Rather to float some ideas to brainstorm them in order to make thorough research and to come up with informative and education agenda for discussion in the Forum plenary discussion.
 
Basically, the term federal mode of government is a system in which the central, national, federal or con-federal governments do share powers and resources with the peripheries: Counties, Districts provinces, regions or states. In these circumstances, the powers and resources shared are not universal but are defined by the interest of the concerned dominant authorities. Below is a brief about various types of governance that have come to the fore since the beginning of modern civilisation.
 
The first original form, the HLRF stakeholders must look at, is the centralised system of governance. In the centralised system of governance, all powers and resources are owned and controlled by the central/national authorities. As we all know, it was the system which was put in place in the Sudan in the pre-and post -independent period (1956 – 1982).
 
The second type of governance is the devolution governance in which some powers and resources are given to the regions. The classic example is that of the United Kingdom, where power and resources are devolved to its four regions of: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
 
The third type of governance is the decentralised system in which certain amount of social powers and local resources are given by the national government to the lower level of governments: counties, regions or states. This is an administrative system which is now in force in the Republic of South Sudan.
 
The fourth system of governance was the ideologically and administrative wrapped up semi con-federal system which was adopted by the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  In The Soviet system of governance, powers and resources in the 15 republics were controlled and directed by the central committee of the communist party based in Moscow. Once the communist ideology fell apart, in 1990s, the 15 republics in the Soviet Union Federation became separate independent states.
 
The same type of system was also adopted in the Union of Socialist Federal Republics of Yugoslavia; which also later splintered into eight independent republics of: Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slavonia and Kosovo.
 
The fifth type of governance and the most enduring system of governance is that of the United States of America (USA). In the USA federalism, power and resources are reasonably and rational shared between the Federal government and the states. Remarkably, the USA type of federalism is so unique to the extent that it cannot be adopted outside the United States of America.
 
The sixth type of governance is the system of cantonment in Switzerland. Remarkably, the Swiss system of governance is also a unique type of federalism because the population consist only of three main nationalities: French, Germans and Italians who are bound together by the system of cantonment. The power and resources are therefore distributed equitably,
 
Presidential-Parliamentary Federalism  
Advisably, the South Sudanese stakeholders in their research must also look closely at other forms of federalism. The first of this type is the French dual federalism, which is both presidential and parliamentary. In the French federalism, the President of the Republic is both the head of state and government. He is elected by one man one vote nation-wide. The prime minister on the other hand, comes to office from a party which brings majority of members to parliament in a general election. The French prime minister shares executive powers with the Federal President. He chairs the daily activities of the government. When there are national issues tabled before the two houses of parliament like the presentation of national budget, national security and policies related to foreign relations, the president as head of state and government chairs the Cabinet meetings.
 
The second parliamentary form of governance is the Indian parliamentary federalism. Like all forms of parliamentary democratic federalism, the Indian president is ceremonially a non-elected head of state. Whereas, the Indian prime minster is the head of government, he comes to office through democratic general elections. The head of the regions or states are called chief ministers, who come to power also through democratic elections to the extent that in some of the states, government could be formed by one of the dominant opposition political parties while the federal prime minister comes to office by winning national parliamentary general elections. The state governors in the Republic of India are not also electable. They are appointed by the president and enjoy ceremonial powers like that enjoyed by the president. Remarkably, there is a clause in the Indian constitution, which strictly prohibits any state from seceding from the rest of the Republic of India.
 
In regard to the assumption that South Sudan will become a federal state, the sharing of power between the federal government and the peripheries will present fewer problems. But the sharing of resources will present tremendous challenge to the parties, because most of the resources in South Sudan are untapped or are still underground.
 
As to the question discuss widely by the general public as to whether the IGAD designed Forum (HLRF) will salvage the elusive war situation in the Republic of South Sudan, it will be important to look at the IGAD itself. Regrettably IGAD members do not appear unanimous in their approach to the solution of the South Sudan conflict.
 
Reportedly, IGAD members are divided. While some favour the idea that the incumbent administration, led by President General Salva Kiir and First Vice General Taban Deng, should continue in office, there are other members of IGAD who believe that, the best way would be to reconcile the two SPLM-IO factions with General Taban Deng giving his position back to Dr Riek Machar, in any Transitional Government of National Unity to be formed.
 
The members of the former group are of the opinion that this is a non-starter, as it will escalate the war between the two factions; making it difficult to reach any agreement being negotiated under the auspices of the IGAD led HLRF. Unless members of IGAD are united and genuine in their pledge to support the realisation of peace in the world younger state, any success of the Revitalisation Forum, will appears questionable, to say the least.

In a nutshell, any future success of the Revitalisation Forum, to salvage the situation in South Sudan, will depend largely on the following factors: Firstly, it demands the international community to stand together genuinely and cooperate in effort to bring pressure to bear on all the South Sudanese stakeholders to work for the fulfilment of the HLRF peace mission; at best for the interest of their people.

Secondly, the South Sudanese citizenry and the Church believe that in order to make HLRF work successfully, it will need the international community to bring pressure to bear on the opposition groups to unite, present one common peace agenda and confront the Incumbent Transitional Government of National Unity and its affiliates that have already decided to stand together as a bloc. 

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