Did the South-South dialogue end the ethno-political polarization ahead of referendum?

Originaly posted on November 30th 2010 on SPLM-Diaspora

South Sudan has gone through many milestones in its political history: the 1947 Juba
Conference where our traditional leaders came together and pled our case for special dispensation for the south prior to independence so as to bring the people and the region from the state of deprivation and then establish a viable confederal system of government that will protect the unique African identity of Southern Sudanese; to the 1965 Round Table Conference, where the astute sons of the region argued for an equitable share of state’s power and constitutional guarantees to protect the rights of its citizens; and to many other brave historical and poignant political and personal sacrifices calling for unique representation for the people of Southern Sudan at the national political
scene.  There has never been any other moment in the history of the South more important then the 2010 South-South Dialogue.

At this  juncture in our history, the sons and daughters of the South came together once
more to show strong leadership and personal and political sacrifice, that was rarely seen in the last decade in the regional politics of South Sudan, to shed light on the political as well as personal differences and the future of South Sudan. Few people have had any hopes that the outcome of the dialogue would lend itself to a pragmatic change on the leaders of the many political parties in the South to ward-off any potential threats to the running of the referendum in January 2011.

The ethnic components of the political dispensation of the region has for many years
affected the fluency of strong political representation at the national, regional as well as at the local levels, where many of the tribal conflicts are executed. The National Congress party have used these differences to weaken the resolve and value attached to the concerns of the people of Southern Sudan because of the nature of the fractious political arrangement that has been established. The leaders of the different political regimes in the South have favoured personal achievement over the overall concerns of the people and the south as a whole, in the past.

As well, the political orientation of the Southern Sudan Political forces are limited more by tactical gains instead of moral foundation that asserts the right of the people
of Southern Sudan for equal access to  resources, effective political representation and meaningful development in the region.

The question that remains to be addressed as we get closer to the referendum in January 2011 and after is: can South Sudan political forces maintain the solidarity that has come out of the South-South Dialogue to post referendum and build a unique political arrangement that will lead to a new constitution and a republic? This is an open question to all who are in the circle of power or have the wherewithal conceived for our future.

Three months ago no one would have ushered in the spirit of brotherhood and fraternity that has been exhibited at the South-South Dialogue in Juba.  The ethno-political
landscape in Southern Sudan was very different than today, especially; after the end of the South-South Dialogue in Juba.  There is a sense of open discourse and intent to engage in more strategic relationships that will guarantee a favourable political space in the post referendum in Southern Sudan politics.

This shift in the Southern Political orientation is an infantile move in the right direction towards a more constructive political space, where opposition to government policies is seen as important to the advancement of the new polity, consistent with the nature,
maturity and organic understanding of consensus building inherent in Southern
Sudanese cultural norms. This organic understanding of the nature of consensus
building, if nurtured, will usher in an era of social, cultural and political mosaic that will surely magnify the cohesion inherent in our culture of peace.

Noting the importance of African culture in the realm of political dialogue in Southern Sudan is not just vital to the milestone reached through the South-South Dialogue but also for future consultations on the nature of the state that will be envisioned. Will the new state continue to present the maladies of the current one or branch off to chart a new course that will represent the ideals of the Movement and the aspiration of South Sudanese people?

There is no magic ball that will assist in forecasting how the south
will look like come January 2011 and beyond; however, steps taken today will surely make it easier in structuring a meaningful state institutions as well as moral compass to guide it. If such system cannot be developed, then, there is a great chance that the South-South Dialogue will continue to be a fruitless exercise in the process of achieving a model nation for South Sudanese.



About dusouth

Passionate South Sudanese who is interested in advancing the cause of peace and new thinking into the political discourse in South Sudan.
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