Peaceful Governance in South Sudan: Lessons from Kenyan Leaders Coming of Age

From: Dr. Hakim Dario, People’s Democratic Movement, Press Statement – For Immediate Release, MAR/12/2018, SSN;

On 8th July 2016, as if 15th December 2013 was not enough, the world looked on at South Sudan as political violence erupted again in Juba instigated by the JCE and President Salva Kiir against his FVP Dr. Riek Machar, in the wake of no more than three months into ARCSS implementation, which triggered renewed civil war in the country instead of extinguishing its flame.

(Editor: 15th December 2013 was the date pres. Kiir launched a genocidal war in Juba targeting and killing members of the Nuer tribe)

President Kiir chose and preferred violence over peaceful means to settle differences with former FVP Riek, the grave consequences of which the country and millions of its population today in refugee camps and POCs suffer in silence without a glimmer of hope in yet another HLRF search for an illusive peace.

President Kiir as head of the TGONU in the country on 8th July 2016, did not pose the legitimate question of “what will become of South Sudan from the repeat resort to uncalled for violence against fellow country men and ARCSS peace partners” that is now destroying the people’s social fabric and what hope was there now for peaceful governance in an ethnically polarized country bent on violence?

Last year in October 2017, the world witnessed a political contest in presidential elections in ethnically polarized Kenya between arch political rivals; incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and Hon. Raila Odinga, which was concluded in a court ruling, the first of its kind in Africa for coming of age of the rule of law and the independent judiciary in Kenya.

This appeal to law and peaceful means to political conflict resolution in July 2016 would be far fetched in President Salva Kiir’s and JCE world in South Sudan ruling with impunity!

PDM notes that while Kenya’s court ruling raised hopes and held promise of a new start for the country, however, the events that followed confirmed that the Kenyan nation and people were divided down the middle, unashamedly largely on ethnic lines if not exclusively so.

This turn of events were watched with great anxiety and trepidation worldwide. What will become of Kenya and what does it mean for African democracy?

What hope is there for Africa if a country like Kenya, until recently, one of few success stories of African nationhood and democracy was cracking under the weight of ethnic division, corruption and strive over power before our very eyes on the world stage!

And since its independence 55 years ago, a grim prospect of civil war was on the horizon for a deeply divided Kenya.

On 9th March 2018, what was seemingly an unlikely political event happened in Kenya, as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chief political rival Raila Odinga, stood together to address Kenyans about the state of their nation and the way forward.

This came as a shock, unexpected but also as a great relief, not just to Kenyans but also to their immediate neighbours in South Sudan, the African continent and the world at large.

PDM commends the phenomenal event seeing the two arch-rivals – who only a few months ago couldn’t see eye to eye, making a joint statement – standing together to address Kenyans and to face the world: a huge victory for the two leaders; a victory for Kenya and a lesson for her conflicted neighbours.

President Kenyatta and Hon. Odinga evaluated their options, decided to heed to the voice of reason. Both leaders are third generation of Kenyans, are schooled and exposed to statesmanship, which is lacking in President Salva Kiir’s and JCE world leadership of South Sudan.

It is instructive which by contrast makes leadership of our country appear to be from the bygone ages of violence and despotism.

PDM applauds the stance and steps taken by the Kenyan leaders – to subordinate their personal rivalries and political ambitions in order to serve the interest of Kenya and Kenyans first.

These two leaders had and have the capacity to destroy Kenya and destroy themselves in the process, but chose not to.

The good news is that they chose the path to resolution of potential conflict through peaceful political means as the preferred option to avert violent and destructive conflict where nobody wins but everybody looses.

PDM looks to Kenya as a valued peace partner to extend their new policy of respect for rule of law, human and peoples rights and security inside Kenya and beyond its borders to effect our country South Sudan to uphold a culture of peace and put the people first.

PDM takes particular interest in what happens to Kenya that matters to South Sudan, as Kenya is not only a home to thousands of fleeing refugees since 2013 but Kenya morally and materially supported South Sudanese throughout two wars of liberation.

The two countries share not just common borders but peoples of common linguistic and ethnic origins.

It was among the first to recognize the legitimate right of our people to self-determination.

Unfortunately too however, today’s South Sudan under President Salva Kiir shares in common with Kenya what “Building Bridges to a new Kenyan Nation” describes as the lack of national ethos in that both South Sudan and Kenya are increasingly being defined by politics of corruption and violence.

The Sentry organization chronicled in numerous reports, how the current crop of political and government leaders in South Sudan are defined by corruption, impunity, lack of vision and lack of respect for human rights and public property.

As Kenyan leaders have acknowledged what it takes to build bridges to a new Kenyan Nation, South Sudanese leaders should know too that before you can build a bridge, you must acknowledge the need to have one to bring people together.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga have set their goal to pull Kenya back from the brink and collapse, history and the people will not judge them harshly if they remain true to the promise they made in their address to Kenyans to create the political space and opportunity for all Kenyans to live together in peace, harmony and dignity.

That will require the support, dedication and commitment of all Kenyans and the international community, not least their neighbours.

The leaders of Kenya have come of age, graciously risen to the challenge of leadership, called a “spade a spade” and averted destruction of their country.

PDM supports the courageous steps they have taken in the interest of Kenya and all its peoples.

As the search for South Sudan peace through the HLRF continues in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, will IGAD mediators and the parties to HLRF put the people and country first?

Sincerely,
Hakim Dario PhD
CHAIR _________________________________________________
PEOPLE’S DEMOVRATIC MOVEMENT – PDM