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Sudan Tribune

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South Sudanese academics call for exclusion of top rival leaders after conflict

June 21, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – A group of US-based South Sudanese academics and professionals have called for exclusion of both president Salva Kiir and armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, from a transitional government of national unity and proposing that a non-Nuer and non-Dinka leader should lead transitional period after a final peace agreement is signed.

Face to face talks between the South Sudanese government and rebels resume in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 13 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Carl De Souza)
Face to face talks between the South Sudanese government and rebels resume in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 13 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Carl De Souza)
In a public position paper entitled, “Defining a path for concerted efforts to end the conflict in South Sudan,” the group of 11 individuals composed of South Sudanese professors and lectures in different universities in the United States also want the interim period to be between 3 to 5 years so that a new leader of transitional government of national unity could have ample time to implement the agreement.

They challenged the notion that there was need for both president Kiir and former vice president Machar to take part in the top leadership of transitional government of national unity in order to convince their respective constituencies to stop the war, arguing that only without the two leaders can formation of interim government become feasible.

“Simply put, the formation of the interim government is only feasible by excluding Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar Teny from being part of it,” the group declared in a jointly signed position paper extended to Sudan Tribune on Friday.

“In fact, in the interest of enhancing the process of national forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing, it may be prudent that the other 62 ethnic groups that do not represent the two warring SPLM leaders provide the leadership of the interim government,” they said.

The group is headed by Dr. Amir Idris: Professor, Fordham University and their membership include Dr. Scopas S. Poggo: Associate Professor, Ohio State University; Dr. Henry Lejukole: Research Scientist, NewLink Genetics Corp; Dr. Sam Laki: Professor, Central State University, Wilberforce OH; Dr. Jane Kani Edward: Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of African Immigration Research, Fordham University; Dr. Augustine Lado: Professor, Clark University; Mr. Benaiah N. Duku: Program Officer, ECDC Inc. (National Refugee Resettlement Agency); Ms. Sarah Cleto Rial: Program Director, My Sisters Keeper, Boston MA; Dr. Joseph Agolory: Researcher; Dr. Utem Kamin Watba: Former Dean of Business and Technology, Prairie State College; and Dr. Hillary Elonai: Retired Pediatrician.

The position paper also called on the African Union’s (AU) Commission of Inquiry to release the report on atrocities committed by the two warring parties in the conflict so as to hold them accountable.

They said although it was necessary for the two top rival leaders to be used “in the short run” in order to bring peace by signing a final peace agreement before they can step down, the group however complained that the “peace negotiation process has so far consumed too much effort, time, and financial resources trying to cobble together the restoration of the status quo ante in South Sudan.”

The group however said there was need to address the fundamental root causes of the conflict which they said started within the SPLM and developed to a national crisis and criticized the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for its recent proposal which they said only divided power between SPLM factions.

“What started as an internal SPLM conflict in South Sudan has become a major and protracted national crisis that threatens the very existence of the young nation…The root causes of the conflict must be addressed to ensure that a sustainable peace and progress is attained in South Sudan,” they also wrote.

They also called for an all-inclusive political dialogue so as to bring about a peacefully negotiated and acceptable settlement to the crisis in South Sudan, which they said should be “in the interest of the entire nation rather than some narrow ethnic, regional, or partisan interest.”

“To this end, every effort must be made to identify the diverse interest groups or stakeholders such as organized political forces, church leaders, community organizations or associations, women and youth groups, etc., and engage as many of these as possible both within and without South Sudan, to ensure that their voices are heard in Addis Ababa,” they further proposed.

The paper also stressed the need to enforce the cessation of hostilities agreement between the warring parties by all means including arms embargo on the belligerent forces as well as targeted sanctions such as freezing of personal assets, saying the sanctions should be imposed in collaboration with neighboring countries.

The group also proposed for building of a unified national army for South Sudan that is of equitable size, diverse, physically fit and better trained to defend the security of the nation which process should be done during the transitional period.

“A federal system of government should be established in the constitution and the relationship between the federal, states and local government should be clearly defined in the constitution. The permanent constitution should ultimately be passed by the people in a national referendum,” their paper further reads.

They also said peace could be attained in South Sudan “sooner than later” when the US government chooses to play a central role in the peace process like it pushed for the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 between SPLM/SPLA and Sudanese government.

They concluded by assuring that if their proposal was put into practice the conflict would end and peace and stability would reign in the young nation.