Sebahate J. Shala
The DDR programmes in South Sudan–pre and post referendum era have been accompanied with serious challenges and delays in implementation. The lack of political will among the main actors, limited and delayed funding, miserable economic conditions, unsustainable reintegration packages, and lack of inclusion and participation account for the main factors to have hindered the DDR process (Turyamureeba, 2014:2). Lack of willingness (emphasized as key element in IDDRS guidelines), particularly within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army(SPLM/A) to begin downsizing active-duty forces under the perception that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was merely a ceasefire, preventing the Security Sector Reforms (SSR) efforts to be fully realized (Munive, 2013:7).
In fact, as some DDR specialists said, the most severe problem was that DDR was not introduced in the right time adding that “if the process had been started six months after the CPA, it might had worked.” (IRIN, July 2011)
The peace accord between the Government of Sudan and SPLM/A was signed in 2005 ending the long-lasting civil war between the North and Southern population, whereas the DDR was first launched in January 2009 – four years later. Additionally, ineffective and incoherent communication on the DDR has also weakened the operation (Stockholm Policy Groups, 2010:3). Further, the CPA did not include disarmament, as one of the main components of DDR; weapons were not destroyed, but just stored under the control of each army although the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and SPLM/A ensured that eligible combatants reported for demobilization and collected weapons (Munive, 2013:21). The prevalence of small arms within the communities remains a source of instability (UNSG, 2014).
As envisaged in the CPA, the DDR main objective was to ensuring favorable conditions for the implementation of peace-building activities by downsizing, standardization and rationalization of forces of both–the SAF and the SPLM/A as well as integrating of Other Armed Groups (OAGs) and creating a new national Sudanese Army. Typical for 2nd generation, DDR in Southern Sudan had development objectives and was community-driven approach–it was designed to preparing ex-combatants socially, politically and psychologically in order to fit into civilian life (Turyamureeba, 2014:1) as well as to contribute towards the three-year Strategic Plan for Recovery and Development in Southern Sudan (2009-2011) in order to meet the MDG in all recovery and developmental spheres (UNDP, 2013:5). While special attention in the agreement were given to other special need groups (SNGs) associated with ex-combatants, such as the disabled and elderly combatants, child combatants and children associated with the armed forces, as well as women associated with the armed forces, the Stockholm Policy Group (SPG) found in a review report, only 9,736 combatants and women associated with the armed forces had been demobilized, and even less assisted in their reintegration by early December 2010 (SPG, 2010:3).
The reintegration program envisaged 180,000 ex-combatants- 90,000 from the north and south respectively. The first phase included 34,000 participants, with only 12,525 combatants demobilized by April 2012 and even fewer had been supported by sporadic reintegration services (Munive 2013:8). The majority of ex-combatants were never reintegrated due to low economic opportunities, lack of access to land especially in urban areas (UNDP, 2013:6). That was mainly as a result of the operational disconnection between main stakeholders, Southern Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC), the SPLM/A, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the UNDP regarding demobilization and subsequent reinsertion and reintegration. Finally, the DDR, did not contribute significantly towards the achievement of the relevant outcomes of the UNDAF (2009-2012) and UNDP Country Programme Action Plan (2009-2012) to improve environment for sustainable peace, restoration of socio-economic infrastructure, and revival of the economy (UNDP, 2013:6).
A reassertion of the SPLM/A position has happened since the South Sudan achieved independence in 2011. The party changed its course by taking a leading role for a second phase of DDR, planned to have started in April 2012, where some 150,000 personnel has been planned to be demobilized and reintegrated, but it has postponed several of times, due to the irregularities found by the verification commission regarding the registered ex-combatants. The third phase has been launched in April 2013 including an approximately 500 participants (Munive, 2013:8-9). But, the relapse of conflict in December 2013 due to the government crisis within the ruling SPLM/A has plunged the country into civil war – the third one to date, and consequently has complicated the process. A new thinking is suggested in the South Sudan contexts, in order to move ahead with the DDR process.