OPINION: Graduation of forces entrenches people’s confidence in gov’t
August 30, 2022, marked the restoration of our shattered hope to rejuvenate the confidence people once had in government.
Throughout the liberation struggle, South Sudanese trusted their leaders and followed them diligently for 21 years until peace was signed in 2005.
This opened up the pathway to the referendum, enabling the southerners to secede from Sudan due to the marginalisation and corruption in the Khartoum regime.
The southerners joyously celebrated their independence on July 9, 2011. As a known fact, South Sudanese are scattered everywhere in various countries in East Africa and the diaspora due to the civil strife that tore apart our beloved nation, barely two years after independence.
Women, and children, mostly orphans, were forced out of the country to flee from their liberators, who had now turned into rebels; enemies, and were set to kill them just for food and power. It was a shame! We were mocked by our neighbours and were called names wherever we went. Life has become much more difficult.
People perished in cold blood almost everywhere. Our brothers could go the extra mile to ambush us whenever we travel in search of greener pastures. You could be killed innocently on your way to Nimule by your own compatriot in the name of being a rebel.
In the quest for peace and unity, our President Salva Kiir, sat with his fellow comrades in the previous liberation struggle. It took them years to pen down some articles to guide them in their shared government and perhaps enjoy the wealth together.
They signed it successfully in 2015, and in 2016 they disagreed again, leading to another serious bloodshed. They indeed fought, and the peace that was once sought blew away through the windows of J1, our state house, on that sorrowful evening. Again, our children, usually orphans, ran to the bushes and the government’s big guns were fired terrifyingly everywhere.
We feared but we held our balls and still managed it here in our capital city, Juba. Where shall we run to? After years of running, some of us are tired of escaping death. So, we stayed and our President again went to Addis Ababa for peace talks. They managed to revitalise this present peace agreement which has today yielded to this momentous occasion and graduation of the “Unified Forces”. Thanks to our leaders!
However, with the implementation of the revitalised peace accord, a lot of hurdles have come along the way for the parties to the agreement, and security arrangements had been the most difficult part to tackle.
Everyone including the top leadership has had reservations about the said matrix. The president has always assured the public that he and his government are committed to bringing about peace, love and unity in the country at all costs.
The arms embargo and numerous sanctions posed serious threats to the full implementation of the agreement given the fact that the professional army needs arms before and after graduation.
You cannot train the army and fail to arm them. Today, as we graduate our guards, the force that will safeguard our sovereignty; we are worried about where to get arms when the international community has cautioned against buying them. They call it “Arms Embargo”.
A man cannot protect his house with sticks but with spears, bows and arrows. That is another wait-and-see scenario.
The president’s slogan of “one people, one nation” came to life yesterday as the people were united by the sight of the professional national army mandated to protect citizens, and the cheerful crowd at Dr John Garang Mausoleum was indeed a new hope for the nation. Such is the long-awaited moment in the history of our nation.
For 11 years since independence, the Republic of South Sudan has been torn apart by its sons and daughters who had no professional military ethics on how to handle arms and protect the citizens and their property. Instead, they were protecting their tribesmen in power, and this has put us into a serious mess over the years.
Conclusively, the army should distance itself from political and ethnic affiliations but rather be committed to protecting the nation from external threats. The politicians on the other hand should not view these forces through tribal or ethnic lenses but as the guards of the nation, the protectors of the constitution. We cannot continue to live in fear, intimidation and exile.
Our people need to be repatriated to their homes and counted to know the exact numbers of our beloved fellows that have fallen in this war.
Let us embrace one another as countrymen and women and build a nation our children can be proud of just like the teamwork shown by our Bright Stars. Congratulations yaa Junubin! Maburuk!