By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD
July 3, 2010 (SSNA) — Those who read the Sudan Tribune 02/07/10, could not have missed the report on the joint meeting between the Sudan’s federal government and the government of South Sudan that took place in the southern capital of Juba. In that report I must seriously confess that it all came to me as a surprise when the vice president Ali Osman Taha, who was there to represent the Northern ruling elites, when he made the following remarks and I quote:
"It is important that the Southern Sudanese citizens feel the value of peace through provision of services for them and improvement of their living conditions," he said.
However, I don’t think that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the north and the south has ever gone beyond the level of a cease fire as long as the trading of accusations and war of words continue to be exchanged between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), even though paradoxically they remain to be referred to in some quarters as Sudan’s peace partners.
Everybody knows that South Sudan at this moment in time remains more insecure than the equally war ravaged western province of Darfur. Both the representatives from the north and the south should understand that for any services to be of a meaning the people, real peace, rule of law and democratic transformation needs to be realized. Unless these basic pre-requisites are guaranteed or at least seen to go side by side with those much advertised developments projects, their importance can only be appreciated by those who have hidden agendas, far beyond the immediate concern of our majority disadvantaged grass-roots.
Talking of improving the living conditions of people in places like Western Equatoria State, just as an example, will have to be preceded by the entire eradication of the notorious Ugandan rebel groups of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and thereafter enabling the citizens to resettle peacefully in their home villages, where they can farm their fields and attend to their traditional livelihoods. Or how do we expect the marginalized of the marginalised in remote areas like Pibor or Akobo to experience the much talked-of peace dividends when hardly a day passes by without cattle raids or inter-tribal clashes?
Taha’s expressed disappointment at the international community for failing to follow through on their pledges to provide the necessary support for the development and rehabilitation programs in south Sudan is another lame excuse. Much money has already been poured in SPLM led GoSS and we know that billions of dollars went unaccounted for. I don’t think that the international community should also take the place of law enforcement in south Sudan and force the corrupted GoSS officials to surrender back the stolen funds.
The international community may have its own vision of south Sudan’s future; the citizens themselves are never demanding that any developmental projections be put in place as a price for what they will choose in the referendum to come. The basic fact is that this region is the most underdeveloped place in the world. It never had infrastructures in place even during the colonial rule. Though fifty years of war can be claimed to have taken its toll, however south Sudan in fact needs a nation building and not just a re-construction program since most of those things will need to be introduced for the first time ever.
In the same report I was again stopped, this time for a much long time when I came across this statement, and I quote:
“Topping the agenda of Taha and Southern officials is the option of confederation between the North and South in lieu of secession, a compromise which could bring relief to many regional and international actors.”
If the purpose of the Joint Meeting in Juba was to sign ‘the so-called Unity Fund Project’ for south Sudan in its modest cost of 200 US dollars, and to be executed within the remaining life span of the united Sudan, which is roughly six months, one can clearly see how the option of confederation sneaked in to top the meeting’s agenda.
As I have clearly pointed out somewhere in this article, that genuine investments are in demand in south Sudan, a region which basically lacks everything in the area of infrastructure.