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Mamdani: South Sudan was not ready for independence
Mamdani suggests that for peace to prevail in the youngest nation the current political class should step aside and a different, more inclusive, leadership should take over.

A leading anthropologist and scholar Prof Mahmood Mamdani says South Sudan independence was rushed and this has resulted into the recurring violence in the neighbouring state.

Mamdani suggests that for peace to prevail in the youngest nation the current political class should step aside and a different, more inclusive, leadership should take over.

Mamdani, who was part of the African Union Commission of Inquiry panel on South Sudan that sought to inquire into the causes of the violence, says the United Nations must take responsibility for doing little or nothing to mitigate the violence when it first broke out in December 2013.

In 2015, Mamdani and others others under the auspices of the African Union Commission of Inquiry authored a report into the challenges of South sudan. The majority on the Commission of inquiry concluded that the problem was a criminal in nature as a result of the break down in the law.

However, Mamdani dissented and wrote a minority report titled,  ‘A separate Opinion” in which he argues that South Sudan’s problem is a political problem and must be addressed as such.

A vortex of turbulence which began in December 2013 later morphed into a civil war. But a shaky power-sharing agreement created grounds for a volatile situation, which recently prevailed in the capital when Kiir and Machar’s presidential guards clashed.

So who is to blame for this conflict? To answer this question one must revisit the process leading to independence, Mamdani postulates.

South Sudan’s efforts to secede gained credence when in  2005 the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan.

The CPA was meant to provide a road map for a five year transitional period, which would be capped with a referendum on independence of the South. All this was crowned on 9th July 2011, when the South voted overwhelmingly to secede.

Yet this euphoria amongst the citizens was short-lived as the political elite in Juba took the place of the oppressors in Khartoum. Shortly after assuming office, Kiir’s regime faced internecine conflicts, widespread corruption, cronyism  and biting poverty. South Sudanese yearned for the leadership of their charismatic leader John Garang who had earlier on died in a helicopter crash in 2005.

Prof. Mamdani says the decision to grant South Sudan Independence was rushed by the united States, Britain and Norway which make up the Troika.In the wake of the 9/11 attacks the US was adamant that the peace negotiations in South Sudan should move on quickly. The government of Sudan was scared that it may be the next target of the US aggression after Afghanistan and Iraq and it is that fear that caused Sudan to sign that agreement.

Mamdani says the Troika deal was not all inclusive because instead of bringing all political parties and actors in South Sudan to the table, they brought only those with guns and large armies. This in effect kept some moderate groups out of the negotiations that led to the formation of South Sudan.

In 2010, there was a conference which brought all political parties together. This would provide a platform for a transitional government.

However, in December 2013, the country imploded when disagreements within the SPLM political bureau spilled over into ethnic divisions which remained bubbling below the surface until they came to surface and culminated into a civil conflict of which the recent violence is a direct consequence.

The United Nations has maintained a 7000 troop presence in South Sudan since 9th July 2011 and yet there presence remains a point of controversy. The number has grown to 12500 after the Dec 2013 violence.

According to the original mandate, the UN mission was only peace-keeping, which limits their role. Mamdani says the United Nations must be held accountable for failing to keep peace.

Whereas an uneasy calm has returned to Juba, the international community in consultation with the South Sudan citizens must find a political solution which is all inclusive and which according to Mamdani excludes from government the two protagonists Kiir and Machar.

 

 

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