Joining Arab League Will Not Help South Sudan

Published on 14th March 2018

I was shocked by the news that South Sudan’s leaders have applied for Arab League membership. I believe that building our national welfare should be better than many memberships with nothing to gain.

On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became the 54th independent country in Africa and less than a year later, South Sudan became a member to many states as below:

On 14th July 2011, South Sudan was officially admitted to the world leading body-the UN. The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization tasked to promote international cooperation and to create and maintain international order.  Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict.

In December 2013, a political power struggle broke out between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, as the president accused Machar and ten others of attempting a coup. Fighting broke out, igniting the South Sudan civil war. Numerous peace pacts between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IG) and SPLM-IO as the main parties to the conflict were subsequently broken. A peace agreement was signed in Ethiopia under threat of United Nations sanctions for both sides in August 2015. Machar returned to Juba in April 2016 and was appointed First vice president. Following a second breakout of J1 dog fight in Juba, Machar was replaced as First vice-president by Taban Deng and he fled the country as the conflict erupted again. Soon after Machar left Juba, many rebel groups emerged in Equatoria, Upper Nile and  Bhar el gazal regions.

Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the war according to the UN. About 3 million people have been displaced in a country of 12 million, with about 2 million internally displaced and about 2 -3 million having fled to neighboring countries of Kenya, DRC, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda.

On 27 July 2011 South Sudan became the 54th country to join the African Union. The objectives of the AU include but not limited to: to achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and Africans, accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent, to encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United nations and the Universal decal rations of human rights, to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent, to promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance, to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance to African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other relevant Human rights Instrument. Finally, to promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standard of African peoples.

On 7 December 2011, The Republic of South Sudan formally joined IGAD. IGAD has been a key partner and broker in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Southern and Northern Sudan in 2005. Its main objectives include: Conflict Prevention, Management, and Resolution, and Humanitarian Affairs; Infrastructure Development (Transport and Communications); and Food Security and Environment Protection.

On 2nd March 2014, South Sudan became a member state of East Africa Community (EAC). This body aims at strengthening the ties between the members through a common market, a common customs tariff, and a range of public services to achieve balanced economic growth within the region among others.

South Sudan has not fared well in these unions as a result of its  leaders who have perpetuated conflicts and corruption. Joining the Arab League does not only dictate the will of South Sudanese majority.  Conditions of joining the league clearly tell that we are not welcome. A member state should be an Arab Muslim nation with its official language as Arabic. Where do we  fit here?  What do we seek to gain by joining the Arab League? Will joining the Arab League Solve South Sudan’s problems? Do we need  two official languages in our country? There are many Arab nations who are currently in turmoil like Syria which take the lead in world worse indicator.

South Sudan after independent deploys the semi-illiterate to market its existence in the geographical world in the name of being the sons, daughters and relatives of the liberators. Without a proper foreign policy, South Sudan will always be in conflict in any alliance. 

Rather than think about joining the Arab League, our leaders need to ask why we are continuously losing lives to conflict.

By Akol Abiong Bol,

Juba, Republic of South Sudan.

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