What Chance for a Power Sharing Peace in South Sudan?

Tongun Lo Loyuong

African Arguments, March 18, 2015

The collapse of the IGAD-led power sharing negotiations on South Sudan revealed the inherent flaw with the process and justified various critiques that have previously been expressed by many commentators. At the heart of those criticisms was the concern that IGAD has managed to reduce South Sudan’s peace process into a power sharing façade aimed at appeasing the very elites responsible for the war. Political power will simply be redistributed among the same leaders at the expense of addressing the central issues that culminated in the violent eruption on 15th December, 2013.

The underlying causes of the conflict, including proximate causes or causes derived from political leadership failure, have had little bearing on IGAD’s peacemaking initiative. The well-documented crimes and gruesome atrocities perpetrated against the civilian population, often across ethnic and tribal lines, are increasingly seen as being neglected in determining an adequate…

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The Deepness Project

There are real, at times debilitating consequences, that result from a dozen years of learning in an education system like Zimbabwe’s, which places – or rather, misplaces – a significant premium on discipline. The kind of discipline I’m talking about is not the three strokes from a cane that my forty classmates and I got on our behinds as often as every school term. The crimes our teachers found us guilty for ranged from getting 60% on an exam instead of over 90% to, by far the most common and most egregious of them all – “noisemaking”. Honestly, I’ve never quite philosophized or intellectualized the moral repugnance inherent in these reasons for discipline and the seemingly inhumane ways of meting it out.

The discipline, which I believe has incapacitated my generation, not only in Zimbabwe, but across the continent is how the need for permission from an authority was inculcated…

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Xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the need for transformation

Vito Laterza's Blog

The recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa are a major cause for concern. They are part of a complex landscape where past and present grievances, injustices and structural inequalities are forcefully emerging from decades of neglect and justificationist techniques to preserve the status quo. More than anything, we need unity and solidarity across all groups and communities, in a delicate moment when histories, identities, memories and feelings can be easily mobilised for destructive and self-destructive purposes. We need to reflect deeply about causes and concerns of all involved, and avoid using these events in any way to justify narrow political and identitarian concerns. Now more than ever, we need to recognise each other’s humanity, no matter what is being said and done by whom and for what purposes.

But let’s not fool ourselves. The entrenched inequalities and injustices these attacks hint at – which of course are much more…

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The Anatomy of Electoral Reforms: Why the MDC must free itself from the “No Elections without Reforms” Box

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Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging

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The Politics of Exile. Dauphinee, E. (2013).

Dauphinee, E. (2013). The Politics of Exile. Oxon: Routledge.

The Politics of Exile, tells the story of the narrator, an international relations professor and researcher, and Stojan Sokolovic, a Bosnian Serb now living in Canada, as well as the many interrelated stories of his family and other people involved, in various ways, with the Bosnian civil war.

As a novel, it is successful. The characters, are believable and in this sense, if no other, are ‘true’. The novel is truly engaging, I read it within a couple of evenings (which is very fast for me), and there are numerous twists and unexpected outcomes (especially with the priest, and Stojan, and his brother etc). Stojan challenges the narrators ability to capture the war in a simple binary categories of those who were innocent and those who were guilty. It turns out that Stojan himself had killed several Bosnian civilians during the war, a fact that the narrator cannot forgive him for despite their growing friendship beforehand. But the novel seeks to be somewhat compassionate to the otherwise ‘evil villains’ (Inayatullah, 2013 *) and shows the multiple reasons people get dragged into conflict, mostly of course they were drafted into the army and threatened with prison or execution if they refused.

However, the book is also an autoethnography, and a work of international relations scholarship (as evidenced by its academic publisher and author). It seeks to criticise the continuing positivist and distanced approach to issues that clearly have person aspects. It is also, I think, a critique of the overly formulaic nature of academic work, that not only isolates non-initiated readers from its important message (see Doty, 2010**), but in itself becomes a form of police (in the sense that Ranciere*** uses the word). Dauphinee has written on ethics and the Bosnian war, and the book is based on her experience of this research, and her personal responses to it. While it is unclear whether the book is entirely true, entirely fiction or somewhere part wayinbetween, (in her other writing she mentions meeting Stojan in Bosnia rather than in Canada). However I don’t believe that it matters, while others I have discussed the book with say that if she is making it up she is abusing her authority as a scholar, I think that the issues raised, even if complete fiction, are true in the sense that they relate to human experience, and simply seek to point out that there is more than one side to a story. I personally think the story is partially fictional, but based on her encounters with many Serbians during her research and the many stories they have told. In this sense I think it is likely that Stojan is, rather than being a single person, a memory or composite of multiple people (explaining his ghostly, colour changing eyes, and the fact that he also appears in her other articles in Bosnia).

He is possibly a war criminal, as you say, but he is also something more and something other than      that.” (p201 – about Stojan).

“I live as well as I can in every moment, with love and gratitude, and I try to live in a way that would  make the boy whose death I was responsible for proud of me. I remember him, and I think, in this  moment, would he be pleased with who I am?” (p203).

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The west left Libya weakened and unstable

The Libyan crisis sparked a controversy regarding humanitarian intervention in the context of Responsibility to protect (R2P). The African Union (AU) described it as an African problem; the French and Italians described it as a Mediterranean problem; the British and the Americans described it as an international problem; while the Arab League felt that it was a “spill over Arab” problem. All of the above are correct to some extent.

However, whether for good or bad, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorization to impose a no-fly zone over Libya was an essential part of the international response to the unfolding political crisis in Libya. The AU’s response to the crisis was perceived as weak, regardless of the fact that it had tabled its African Roadmap before UNSC Resolution 1973 was implemented.

Another problem the AU confronted was that although Gaddafi agreed to participate, the rebels were not too eager to negotiate a peaceful settlement. The AU wanted, at all costs, to prevent internal conflict from spreading. This explains why the AU constantly emphasized that only diplomacy and dialogue could resolve the political standoff.

Years after Hillary Clinton’s famous remarks, “We came, we saw, he died,” many policymakers in the AU and the supposedly dying Arab League are now left with the burden of reconstructing Libya. The events in post-Gaddafi era suggest that Libya runs the risk of being another Somalia — a complete disaster that is already acting as breeding place for extremism that ultimately destabilizes the region.

The world’s attention has been focused on the spread of ISIL while Libya lies in ruin, tearing itself apart because of a legitimacy crisis. Airports and hospitals lie in smoking ruins, diplomats were evacuated and the once vibrant civil society has been sidelined and silenced through a spate of assassinations. A contest between the cities of Misrata and Zintan presents a situation where all parties are going for the mantle of legitimacy in a society devoid of vibrant democratic institutions.

The conundrum is that all camps claim legitimacy and authority over the state. These conflicts and lack of workable solutions in the rampaged and troubled North African country are a threat to regional security.

As the situation deteriorated with massive bombing operations raining in Benghazi, Libya increasingly became a vacuum for foreign meddling. The battle conflict between anti-Islamists and Islamist groups for Benghazi and Tripoli was interwoven with local conflicts. This was not the case during Gaddafi’s era — he managed to act as a buffer zone and a hegemonic force that eliminated and suppressed any instance of religious and ethnic conflict. The international community had a black and white approach to the Libyan situation, which was a symptom of the regional quagmire.

This was a stubborn approach, with a single goal of eliminating the Gaddafi regime but with no sustainable governance and reconstruction policy. This approach was bound to fail and was out of touch with reality on the ground. This approach exacerbated the situation as opposed to ameliorating it. There has been mushrooming of many non-state actors in Libya and battles and bombings between militia groups.

UNSC’s application of R2P in Libya was applied within the scope and faith of R2P. However, the implementation of Resolution 1973 by NATO was incompatible with R2P. It went further than its civilian protection mandate and instead embarked on regime change mission. This backfired and led to lack of trust in R2P. If only the 1973 resolution was not implemented by NATO, Libya could have been a different place.

NATO’s war on Libya was declared as a humanitarian intervention-bombing in the name of saving lives. Attempts for diplomacy by the AU were stifled and any possibility of peace talks was subverted. Libya was barred from representing itself at the UN where shadowy NGOs and human rights groups had leeway to present information that served as prerequisite for bombing Libya in the name of democracy. The war on Libya was not about human rights protection.

Whatever the reason for toppling Gaddafi, it is clear that once a stable, prosperous Libya lies in ruins and there is prolonged civil unrest. Years after Western intervention, the so-called international community has once again managed to create a failed state, and still the NATO-led alliance refuses to admit its Libyan mistake. Libya is now run by extremist militias, the parliament agrees on little and the interim government has no army to enforce security let alone impose policies.

Many Libyans who were duped into trusting Western intervention now have to live unbearably, with the society descending into a country run by Islamists, tribal leaders and militias all jostling for positions and authority. The future of Libya remains uncertain. There is a possibility of partition based on ethnic and regional enmities, and this will likely produce a Somali-like manner where meaningful democracy and sustainable economic development are impossible. This kind of a failed state will become a safe haven for terrorism and sanctuary for violence.

The West poked a beehive when it bombed Libya. It created a state where people are left with no sense of hope for a better future. If the war on Libya was in compliance with R2P and driven by the need to protect civilians, the West should have proactively helped Libya to stabilize and rebuild. The country has been left to wither away, which raises the question: was the Libyan intervention really about protecting civilians or just another geopolitical expansionist campaign?

Libya will need a strong leader to restore order and security in the society because when security is at stake human rights take a back seat. My argument here is in favor of a stable military government in Libya or a civilian government with strong support from securocrats, even though the international community might not fancy such.

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