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Citizens for Peace and Justice Letter to IGAD

H.E. Amb. Seyoum Mesfin,
H.E. Gen. Lazurus Sumbeiywo,
H.E. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa Eldabi,
Special Envoys,
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

10 June 2014

Re: Civil Society Representation in the IGAD-led Peace Talks

Your Excellencies,

June 10, 2014 (SSNA) -- I am writing to you on behalf of the secretariat of Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ), a coalition of South Sudanese civil society organizations (CSOs) formed to promote a peaceful and just resolution to the crisis in South Sudan, in order to set the record straight about CPJ and to voice our deep concern with the manner in which the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has gone about selecting representatives of civil society to participate in the peace talks in Addis Ababa.

Origins of CPJ

CPJ was formed in January 2014 at a consultation in Nairobi to explore the causes of the conflict in South Sudan and examine the role that civil society could play in resolving the crisis. CPJ made its first public statement on 15 January (available at http://www.gurtong.net/ECM/Editorial/tabid/124/ctl/ArticleView/mid/519/articleId/14588/categoryId/120/Statement-On-The-Crisis-In-South-Sudan-By-Citizens-For-Peace-And-Justice.aspx). The statement called for the peace process to be expanded to include voices from all sectors of South Sudanese society. It also said that for sustainable peace to be achieved, the peace process had to go beyond the political dispute within the leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) that sparked the violence to address the fundamental governance problems that South Sudan has been grappling with since the end of the last war in 2005.

The 23 signatories to the 15 January statement included many of the most prominent members of South Sudanese civil society, all of whom have a longstanding presence in the country. At that first meeting, a seven-person interim committee was formed, which would later become the CPJ secretariat. The organizations represented in the secretariat include: Assistance Mission for Africa (AMA), Nuer Peace Council (NPC), the ROOTS Project, South Sudan Democracy and Elections Monitoring and Observation Programme (SSuDEMOP), South Sudan Law Society (SSLS), the Sudd Institute and Voice for Change (VFC). All seven organizations are registered as legal entities under South Sudanese law and have a demonstrated track record of working at the national, state and local levels in South Sudan.

From 9-12 February 2014, CPJ held a second civil society conference in Nairobi to expand its membership and to stimulate thought about the substantive issues that we felt needed to be addressed in the peace process, including: transitional governance arrangements; constitutional reforms; truth, justice and reconciliation; security sector reform; economic reform; and humanitarian support. As can be seen from the list of signatories to the 17 February conference statement (available at http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/news/press-releases/direct-participation-of-civil-society), participants were overwhelmingly drawn from organizations that were either operating in South Sudan or had recently fled to neighboring countries to escape the violence.

Initial Selection Process of Civil Society Representatives

In March 2014, IGAD invited CPJ and a number of other civil society networks, including the South Sudan Civil Society Alliance (SSCSA) and the National Non-government Organizations (NNGO) Forum, to help organize a conference to develop a modality for civil society engagement in the peace process. A 13-person secretariat was brought to Addis Ababa to draft the conference agenda, participant list and conference materials. An entire day was spent vetting conference participants according to a strict criteria in order to ensure that the conference included civil society organizations with well-established networks in South Sudan, that the participating organizations were independent and not partial to either the Government or the SPLM-in-Opposition, and that the individual participants reflected the full diversity of South Sudan.

At the conference, 14 individuals, seven men and seven women, representing the full diversity of South Sudan were selected to represent civil society in the IGAD-led peace talks. Six of the 14 representatives were members of the SSCSA executive, including the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the SSCSA. CPJ was selected to serve as the focal point for following up on the issue of civil society engagement with IGAD in Addis, while the SSCSA was selected as the focal point for activities in South Sudan.

On 17 May 2014, IGAD notified CPJ that its request for civil society representatives to be accredited to participate in the peace talks had been approved. IGAD requested five additional names to be added to the list of 14 to maximize the representativeness of the group. Three additional individuals from the SSCSA secretariat and two individuals from state-level CSOs were added, bringing the total number to 19. In June 2014, the 19 civil society representatives traveled to a stakeholder symposium being organized by IGAD in Addis Ababa with the understanding that this would be an opportunity for them to formalize their relationship with IGAD and the peace talks.

A New Selection at the Stakeholder Symposium

The stakeholder symposium got off to a late start due to concerns expressed by some of the stakeholders about the participation of the 19 independent civil society representatives. It was a somewhat chaotic scene. Both the Government and the SPLM-in-Opposition had arrived with their own syndicated civil society organizations. Groups of civil society organizations that were not invited to the event were also mobilized to attend in the hopes that they would be able to convince IGAD to let them participate in the process.

The day after the symposium ended, Ambassador Lazarus Sumbeiywo called the civil society representatives for a meeting. Roughly 40 individuals, including 16 of the 19 independent civil society representatives, several groups that traveled from Juba of their own accord, and other CSOs affiliated with the Government and Opposition were in attendance. Ambassador Sumbeiywo announced to the room that they should elect seven representatives to participate in the peace talks: one chairperson, two women, two youth and two elders. The announcement came without any advance notice to the 19 independent civil society representatives and without explanation as to why a new selection process would take place. The group in attendance proceeded to elect the seven representatives; only one of the 19 previously selected representatives was retained.

The Way Forward

CPJ has not yet received an official explanation from IGAD as to why the 19 civil society representatives that had been notified that they would be accredited to the peace talks have been replaced by a new group of seven individuals selected in such a hasty manner. The new group of seven does not reflect the diversity of the outgoing group, and as a result of this decision, many of the most capable and highly regarded CSOs in South Sudan have been cut out of the process.

CPJ is committed to working for the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan and we will do what we can to support all stakeholders in the process. Nonetheless, we would be remiss if we did not express our deep concern at the course that civil society participation has taken. We urge IGAD to reconsider its decision and to sit with CPJ and other independent civil society coalitions and networks to find out how this situation might be remedied in a manner that is amenable to all concerned parties.

Yours sincerely,

David K. Deng
Secretary, Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ)

South Sudanese in Australia Met with Maverick Democratic Governance Advocate, Dr. Wani Tombe

By Tut Pal Ding

South Sudanese in Melbourne Australia had a euphoric political symposium with the maverick democratic governance advocate and the leader of Greater Equatria Council of Rights ((GRECOR) Dr Wani Tombe.

Melbourne, June 10, 2014 (SSNA) -- In a forum attended by over 600 South Sudanese community members and Australian friends of South Sudanese, Dr Tombe wowed the audience who were glued to their chairs for the whole two-hour duration of the forum by his frank articulation of the causes of the conflict. Those in attendance included some recognizable faces who are members of the main Australian political parties as well as representatives from law enforcement agencies. Dr Tombe gave a candid political oration on the current political, humanitarian military affairs in the country.

The meeting which took place on Sunday 1st June 2014 in Dandenong, South Eastern Melbourne’s suburbia known for it’s a large South Sudanese population was organized by the South Sudanese Crisis management and Advocacy Group (SSCM&AG) and the SPLM-In Opposition. SSCM&AG is a body that has been working with the community leaders and NGOs aiming to raise awareness about the plight of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Sudan with international community to remedy the suffering of innocent civilians. SSCM&AG also work with political leaders in the area of dialogue to try to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the current conflict in South Sudan.

Dr Wani Tombe is touring South Sudanese communities in diaspora highlighting the root courses of the conflict as well as proposing mechanisms to end the war. Dr Tombe traced back the root causes of the conflict back to colonial era decisions where ethnic groups of the then Southern Sudan were lumped together without proper consideration about their ability to co-exist with one another.

Dr Tombe also squarely put the current crisis on leadership failures within the ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) which he described as political grouping where the rulers believe in “zero-sum political philosophy” in which for example, group A believe in the elimination of group B for group A to exist. Dr. Tombe liked this kind of leadership mentality to that of Adolf Hitler which led to the Second World War. This comment was understood to mean the thinking of many people around the president Salva Kiir whose intentions and behaviors have been labeled as tribally motivated. This group of advisors and occasionally including the president himself is viewed as protecting Dinka interests. Many critics ceased on comments which were made on records by the president during a tour of the Greater Bahr el Ghazel Region in which he asked the audience whether they will allow anyone to take the leadership from them, in which the crowd interposed “it will not happen”.

Dr Tombe and GRECOR have accused the government of committing massacres against Nuer tribe simply because his arch rival, the former vice-president Dr Riek Machar, the leader of the current armed rebellion in the country. Tombe told the audience that what happened to Nuer can happen to any ethnic group if the current leadership sees them as threat to their stay in power.

Tombe, who hails from the Greater Equatoria Region, moved on to address possible solutions to the war where he called for a legitimate uprising to overthrow the government.

Speaking directly to the people of Greater Equatoria, Dr Tombe called for all the sons and daughters of Greater Equatoria to abandon Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and not fight for a government with tribal motivations on how to run the country. Tombe clarified his remarks are not a call to violence but a call for citizens to exercise their rights to determine how and who they would like to govern them.

Gatluak Deng Gai, the Chairperson of the SSCM&AG advised the audience who, as it could be observed, represents all sides of the South Sudan politics, to act as citizens of one nation and be active stakeholders in running their country. Mr Gai told the audience to take and use whatever they can from the presentation and use it to make South Sudan a better place.

Rebels Military Spokesperson Says Government Troops and Their Foreign Allies Abandoned Positions in Jonglei

Addis Ababa, June 8, 2014 (SSNA) -- The Spokesperson for South Sudanese rebels’ military wing said government troops with their foreign allies have deserted their positions in Jonglei State, warning that such a move could result in a ‘wind of change'.

Federal Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, the military Spokesperson for the Sudan people’s Liberation Army (in opposition) added that their forces have reoccupied the deserted outposts, saying the decision was made due to security reasons.

“Kiir’s troops and UPDF’s forces that had been occupying Gadiang forward base in Duk County, Jonglei had abandoned it along with Poktap, and Wernyol barracks. Other smaller military outposts were also abandoned. Salva’S forces and Allies are currently heading to Bor vie Panyagor, the Administrative HQs of Twic East County”, Beig. Gen. Koang wrote on his social media wall.

“SPLA’s Gallant Forces are occupying abandoned bases to avoid security vacuum and possible lawlessness”, he added.

General Koang also warned that the whole country could see “winds of change”, unless Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), the main protector of Kiir’s government maintains forward bases.

“With no UPDF forces in forward bases, Bor is left vulnerable to winds of change, Juba and eventually the whole country”, he warned.

Fighting erupted in Juba late last year, tens of thousands of people have been killed, and more than a million people have fled to the neighboring countries.

Peace talks between the two warring factions are continuing in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

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