Tomori, NCMP – The recent call by an official in Lakes State for immediate forceful disarmament in the area to end the cycle of violence calls for proper scrutiny.
Earlier this year, at least 81 soldiers and civilians were killed as the authorities carried out a plan to try to reduce the number of weapons in circulation in a country recently pummeled by civil war.
The efforts to disarm communities in South Sudan are an attempt by the authorities to tackle insecurity and stem retaliatory attacks in a country fractured along ethnic lines.
Understandably, the UN Mission in South Sudan reports that revenge attacks and cattle-related killings remain the biggest insecurity challenges after political violence subsided in the country following the signing of the revitalized peace agreement.
But aid groups had cautioned that the “top-down” approach, instigated by a government viewed with suspicion by many in the country, was likely to fuel clashes.
The government’s disarmament efforts always looked complicated in a country awash in weapons after the civil war. In any case, many communities, particularly politically connected ones, are able to quickly rearm, said Alan Boswell, a senior analyst for South Sudan at the International Crisis Group.
“Disarmament in South Sudan resembles an abusive counterinsurgency operation, not an orderly collection of arms, which the local militias often resist giving up,” Mr. Boswell said. Because the government lacks much “political legitimacy or authority” in many parts of the country, he added, it “relies on the violence that often deepens the crisis.”
The disarmament process should be voluntary and not forced and at the same time must be simultaneous throughout the country to make sure that the arms collected do not go back into the wrong hands.
The government should build proper storages in places where disarmament will be conducted and unserviceable weapons collected have to be destroyed in the presence of the public to build confidence amongst them.
In this way, the process will be peaceful and will ensure a trustworthy relationship between the government and its people.