EDITORIAL: DRC mission nobble test but Upper Nile mess must equally be cleaned
South Sudan sent a force of 720 troops to the war-torn east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where fighting has been taking place between the March 23 Movement rebels and the Congolese army.
This is part of a joint mission with East African countries, whose leaders decided in the middle of this year to send troops to eastern Congo to help the Congolese security forces restore peace.
It is one of the few times that forces from South Sudan participate in a regional or international mission with the aim of restoring or keeping the peace, and there is no doubt that this will add value to the record of our country and work to strengthen our role in the region.
It is certain that President Salva Kiir and the Supreme Command of the South Sudan Defence Forces have gained sufficient experience in the field of peace operations, in relation to what our country is going through and the fact that South Sudan itself is engaged in a fateful battle in order to achieve a sustainable pace throughout the country.
The participation of forces from South Sudan within the joint regional forces in Congo will open the way for developing and improving the SSPDF, making it more professional, and reforming them in terms of being national forces. It is certain that the forces will feel patriotic and will learn what it means to be a representative of the country rather than a tribe or sect.
But despite our commendation of the step and our recognition of the benefits that our country will reap when it participates in the efforts to keep peace at the regional level; it is necessary to draw the attention of our government to its commitment to achieving peace internally, at the national level, because the proverb says, “You cannot involve yourself in building someone else’s house when your own house is demolished.”
There are still a number of inflamed pockets in the country still witnessing a multi-level conflict, foremost of which is the raging conflict in Upper Nile State since August 2021 between the Kit Gwang faction led by Simon Gatwech, who is fighting the SPLM-IO after he defected from it, and lately against his ally-turned-foe Gen. Johnson Olony.
The government and SSPDF must strive to stop the bloodshed in Upper Nile, which the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says, has caused at least 20,000 people to flee because of the fighting. We must exercise caution while also working for regional peace. We need to work for peace at home.