Contribution of political governance on ethnic conflict management in South Sudan: the case of Juba County
Kueigwong, Lam Tungwar
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Ethnic conflicts in most countries across the world have been linked to marginalization concerns related but not limited to exclusion, lack of public participation in decision making and inequality in resources sharing, aspects which point to weaknesses or failures of political governance. Thus, if these conflicts are to be managed well, the political governance bottlenecks must be addressed. Countries across the world, including South Sudan have established and implemented various political governance frameworks intended to spur constructive management of ethnic conflicts with varying outcomes. The purpose of this study was to assess the contribution of political governance dynamics in the management of ethnic conflicts in South Sudan’s Juba County. The specific objectives of the study were to: evaluate the nature and scope of political governance framework aimed at the management of ethnic conflicts in Juba County, assess the effectiveness of political governance strategies used to guide the management of ethnic conflicts in Juba County and to determine the political governance challenges to the management of ethnic conflicts. The study was guided by the constructivism and the dominant institutional theories. Methodologically, the study was anchored on a descriptive research design. The target population comprised of state officials in various government departments relevant to the study, elected leaders, Nongovernmental organizations representatives and opinion leaders representing various ethnic groups in Juba County. From this population, a sample of 186 was obtained to participate in the study. The sample was obtained using stratified, simple random and purposive sampling. A questionnaire comprising of closed and openended questions, Focus Group Discussions and an interview guide were used to collect data from the respondents. The quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics while the qualitative one was analysed through content analysis. The study established that the political governance framework that forms the basis for ethnic conflict management in Juba County comprises of the constitution, acts of parliament, government policies and the revitalized peace agreement. These governance documents and especially the constitution and the revitalized peace agreement were found to have the necessary regulatory provisions to anchor ethnic conflict management in the course of governance undertakings as reported by 85% and 89% of the respondents. Among the strategies used for ethnic conflict management were the use of military force, decentralization and power sharing. Use of military force was found to be counterproductive as it encouraged the mobilization and arming of ethnic militias and vigilantes. While decentralization as a model of governance had been rolled out, the study established that it had not been adequately resourced as reported by 74% of the respondents to address some of the drivers of the ethnic conflicts in the study area. The strategies were also found not to have significantly contributed to proportionate inclusivity of ethnic groups in public service through a quota system as would be expected in a multi-ethnic setting. The major challenges found to undermine political governance strategies aimed at ethnic conflict management were corruption and lack of political good will as reported by 92% and 100% respectively of the respondents. These are challenges emanating from poor governance which can corrected to turn the tide. The study recommends that decentralization be implemented and supported fully through good governance practices. The findings may be of benefit to the leadership of the country and Central Equatorial state within which Juba County is located as well as researchers in the field of political governance and ethnic conflict management.
Africa Nazarene University