OpEd, Politics

 Measures to Stop Proliferation of Arms in South Sudan

By Joseph Akim Gordon

The proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) is recognized as an obstacle to development, in addition to facilitating criminal and armed violence.

SALW are used to facilitate sexual and gender-based violence and to reinforce violent, gendered social norms.

Proliferation of arms in South Sudan is connected to political instability and armed liberation struggle.

South Sudan waged armed struggle to free itself from Arab domination and the imposition of sheria Islamic laws to non-Moslems in South Sudan, but Khartoum regime was determined to enforce it by force, if necessary. For this reason, South Sudan in 1955 started armed struggle to liberate itself from Arab dominated regime in Khartoum. The end result of the armed struggle obliged the Sudan Govt. to accept South Sudan referendum that resulted to South Sudan Independence in July of 2011.

After South Sudan Independence, it was not able to collect arms from several militia forces, almost every political leader had militia force, and some of them are ethnic-based. In addition, during civil wars in Uganda lead by Joseph Kony, driven by Ugandan forces, sold their arms cheaply and at times exchanged arms for food.  Similarly during the rebellion in the Congo, some the rebels sold arms and ammunition to South Sudanese, so all these developments increased the proliferation of arms in South Sudan.

So, during the liberation struggle of the Anya-Nya movement 1955-1972 and SPLAM 1983-2005, no records of arms to their forces were kept, as such, there was not meaningful effort to register all the arms from the militia forces belonging to individual political leaders.

Another concern is that the pastoralists are heavily armed with even modern arms similar to that of the government. The question is that where did they get the modern weapons from? Now, in peace time, the Govt. is not able to register the arms from the civilians or find a mechanism on how to take the arms away from civilians.

It is noted that the armed civilians are able to challenge the army, because they have all the types of arms than the Govt. except that they lack battle tank. One country cannot have two armies. So, the best option is to find a mechanism to disarm the civilians peacefully.

In pastoral areas collection of arms must be comprehensive, it must be done tactfully because if you take arms from village A, then village B or C might carry out raid in Village A knowing that village A has no arms. So, it must be planned properly that the collection of arms must be done in boma or payam, and this must be followed with next boma or payama in this manner the Govt. will have an upper hand in this operation.

Alternatively, a voluntary hand over of arms to the Govt. in exchange for cash. The disadvantage of this method is that a person with many guns will surrender one and still will cause threat to others. The armed civilians will surrender only when they realize that the true peace prevails everywhere. Where an armed group raid stop raiding their animals. But we need to be cautious about the arms that are collected and kept in secured place; it should not be resold to the civilians any more

So long as that the govt. is unable to collect guns or arms from civil population, the incidences of insecurity will not end.

Nowadays, we hear cases of unknown gun men, cases of suicide have multiplied at least every week you hear suicide using a gun.  Armed robbery, looting, because of economic difficulties, is common as gun owners rent the fire arms to threaten or kill for money. The gun owner does not care whether some body is killed or wounded, his interest is the looted money or properties.

They have become brave to eat blood money and do not care about the repercussion to him and family. Eating blood money is just like consuming poison.

The govt. has announced that its forces will be deployed to central Equatoria, it is said the forces will conduct this operation to collect illegal guns, but not to temper with citizens’ property.

The operation is only for illegal guns but we hope the soldiers will adhere to this order.  The worry in the civilians is that even if they were told exactly what to do, we are saying this because in previous search operation,  some soldiers ignored orders and made civil population scared of military and the police.

We hope this time; they will carry their operations honestly as instructed by their leadership.

To create peaceful atmosphere in the country, it is only the organized forces that are allowed to carry guns when on duty. The army or the police officer who is off duty should not carry guns, as this alone frightens the civil population.

Also, the police or the army should not keep guns in the residential areas.  After duty, security personnel should not carry guns or move in uniform because the civilians do not feel free with soldiers in uniform and carrying arms.

The author can be reached by e-mail: akimgordon222@gmail.com

Comments are closed.