The implosion of SPLM/A with its factions in Juba from 7th July 2016 to 11th July 2016, was not an unexpected thing. That it would happen was not a matter of if, but when, and indeed it happened much earlier than expected. South Sudanese warned the world and kept beating the alert drums consistently, but all these as usual fell on deaf ears. The chairman of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission who should have heeded the warning certainly ignored the messages and now we have chaos in the South Sudan.
Now that things have slightly settled down following the cease fire, it is time to do some thinking on the whole thing. In this process it is important to acknowledge the pains inflicted on the country by actions of a grossly negligent government. All of us the South Sudanese in one way or another are deeply hurt by loss of loved ones, and traumatised by witnessing the savagery in Juba that went on for those four days. For those of us who survived the Juba carnage of 1965, this brutality awakens a deeper and hidden pain in us. What makes it worse is that the Juba Carnage happened on exactly the same day: Friday 8th July. Note everything is the same except for the year. As a survivor of that grave crime against the people of South Sudan, I have sadly come to accept that extreme evil exists in all societies. The naive and racially biased judgement we doled out to the Arabs was full of ignorance. For the savagery of President Salva Kiir’s government far exceeds what the Arabs had done in South Sudan.
This piece attempts to examine the consequences of the South Sudanese government’s violence against its people that has thrown the country into chaos.
If President Kiir, the Jieng Council of Elders and their Chief of the army General Paul Molong Awan Anei thought that by attempting to assassinate Dr Riek Machar they would strengthen their political grip on the country, they no doubt must have miscalculated. With or without Dr Machar their half baked plan would not bring peace. If anything it would lead to further destabilisation of the country.
It is not rocket science to work out that if Dr Machar disappears from the scene the Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) would still have to be implemented. What then is the point in trying to assassinate Dr Machar, if this is not personal tribal hatred? In the process of this evil plan, the government has plunged the country into a crisis inviting possible foreign intervention to the government’s dismay. The United Nations response to the crisis in questions appears to be heading in that direction.
Now there are three variant perspectives competing to shape the future of South Sudan. The first is made up of those who strongly recommend trusteeship as the only solution to address the chronic failure of leadership in Juba. The second group is made up of those who advocate partial intervention to save ARCISS, and the third group is made up of supporters of the government who do not support intervention of any nature. If anything they want President Kiir to continue with violation of ARCISS to appoint a Machar replacement.
The advocates of trusteeship include Professor Mahmood Mamdani, Dr Remember Miamingi, Dr Lako Jada Kwajok and others. This group has made a compelling case that can not simply be brushed aside. Mamdani in his YouTube video, ’South Sudan was not ready for Independence’, thinks that “politically this authority [South Sudan] should be led by somebody who has both the experience, and the vision, and the confidence of everybody concerned. In my [Mamdani’s] view there is one party, which is the AU High Panel in the Sudan led by former president Thabo Mbeki.” (https://uk.search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=B214GB642D20110806&p=south+sudan+was+not+ready+for+independence)
Although Mamdani’s argument is powerful for the case of trusteeship, his conclusion quoted above falls short of acknowledging and accepting that there are capable South Sudanese who can actually competently with confidence lead South Sudan, for example, Fr Paride Taban.
Dr Miamingi in conversation with Ivan Okuda of the Monitor newspaper under the heading, ‘South Sudan as a state was still born’, equally makes a powerful case of intervention for a hybrid administration consisting of local and foreign people. He sums it as follows: “This country has failed and won’t work unless the following happens: first, an international military intervention to secure the country and protect civilians. Second, the replacement of the failed government in Juba with a hybrid administration of South Sudanese technocrats supported by our brothers from the region and international community. This transitional arrangement will reconcile, heal, foster accountability, restore order, hand it a constitution and after that process organise elections with guaranteed sanity.” (http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/PeoplePower/South-Sudan-as-a-state-was-stillborn/-/689844/3298006/-/rv8c42/-/index.html)
Dr Kwajok expressing the view of the majority of South Sudanese in his article titled, ‘United Nations Trusteeship is the best option to resolve the crisis in South Sudan’, points out that “There is a growing consensus among a significant number of South Sudanese that supports UN takeover of the country until it’s able to function as a viable state. A 5-year period under UN Trusteeship would give the country the chance to start afresh on sound foundations.” (http://www.southsudannation.com/united-nations-trusteeship-is-the-best-option-to-resolve-the-crisis-in-south-sudan/)
The second group wants to see the implementation of the peace agreement resume with both President Kiir and Dr Machar working together. The group consist of the United Nations, IGAD and the Troika.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon advancing this view in his response to the crisis recommended to ‘the Council (UNSC) to take action on three fronts: impose an immediate arms embargo on South Sudan, enact additional targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders blocking the implementation of the peace agreement, and fortify UNMISS with “desperately needed” attack helicopters and other material to fulfil the mandate to protect civilians.’ (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54434#.V41JaNQrLs0) Equally both IGAD and the Troika called for the same. (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article59587)
The third group is that of the government and its supporters who want the status quo to continue. The Jieng Council of Elders is already issuing out threats against any intervention. Please see, ‘Dinka Council of Elders warns war over additional UNMISS troops’, (https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/dinka-council-elders-warns-war-over-additional-unmiss-troops). This group should be ignored. They have already failed spectacularly and they have nothing to offer the country.
Those arguing for trusteeship no doubt have made strong and valid points that South Sudan one way or other needs to be pulled out of the mud it is deeply stuck in. Their recommendations however ignore a hidden reality in South Sudanese politics, which is that the country actually has knowledgeable and competent leaders to lead it, the reason these leaders have not surfaced is because of SPLM/A’s violence towards leaders from other ethnicities. They have not asked the question: Is it true that South Sudan does not have the necessary leaders? If they did, they perhaps would have come up with the right answer. Mamdani’s recommendation is outright contemptuous of South Sudan and its people. He parachutes Mr Mbeki as the qualified person to fix South Sudan without taking into consideration that leaders like his nominee, are currently failing South Sudan. What have the foreigners with impeccable governance credentials appointed to manage the current agreement done? Are they any more of a success than the failed South Sudanese leadership? How has the implementation of ARCISS led to chaos under their watch? All the signs for impending troubles were in their face, what did they do? Mamdani presents a paradox himself in his video where he acknowledges the failure of the international community.
On the other hand, placing hope on ARCISS and spending energy to salvage it is a dead end. It will not work. What is needed now is for the two perspectives of those supporting intervention to be merged to give birth to a totally new approach that breaks the backbone of the cancer - SPLM/A with its various factions once and for all, in order for peace to come to South Sudan.
Therefore, the international community as recommended should intervene to separate the SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO and demilitarise the capital. Once the capital is demilitarised and security is restored, the intervention force takes over the security of the capital for the entire duration of the interim period. This should then be followed by the dissolution of the Transitional Government of National Unity of President Kiir and Dr Machar. A national Unity conference should then be organised composed of all the registered parties, registered civil societies, faith based groups, and the Diaspora supported by one of ‘The Elders’ (www.theelders.org), preferably Kofi Annan with the main objective to choose a new transitional government whose agenda includes the main provisions of ARCISS. This new administration must be a product owned by the South Sudanese people, to dispel the propaganda of the JCE and their song of sovereignty aimed at elevating themselves fraudulently. It also should avoid the shenanigans and bias of IGAD Plus during their mediation of ARCISS.
South Sudan’s parliament should not play any role in this process because:
It is not a legitimate body. All the MPs like President Kiir himself were not voted in by the South Sudanese people in an independent South Sudan.
They failed to play their role in holding the executive to account since 2005.
A good number of the MPs are nominees of the already proven failed leaders that have plunged the country into the abyss. The people of South Sudan through the mentioned organisations should now make the decision of who should run the country on behalf of the people.
In conclusion, South Sudan has been hijacked by the SPLM/A, and it has been abused to an extent that the only way out now is partial intervention. If the international community truly wants to support the people of South Sudan as it claims, then they need to provide the needed security and safe environment for South Sudanese to exercise their collective sovereignty. This surely is not much to ask for...
[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
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