The second part of revitalisation forum kicks off on 5th February 2018 with the opposition as usual in this kind of forum on South Sudan under International Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) starting from a position of disadvantage. The government of President Salva Kiir comes in well kitted with himself having attended the Summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of state and government on South Sudan. Such an advantage enjoyed by one side in the conflict hardly makes IGAD’s mediation impartial, especially when IGAD member countries like Uganda and Kenya are openly supporting the regime in Juba.
In, ‘The facade of International Community in South Sudan’ it is argued that the international community has sided with the regime and by doing so, it has compromised its position and thus has become part of the problem in South Sudan.
It is hard to dispute the allegations labelled against the international community because it has engaged in things that can clearly be seen as biased. For example, in the, ‘Report: UN, US failed to prevent ethnic cleansing in South Sudan’ (https://www.voanews.com/a/report-un-us-ethnic-cleansing-south-sudan/4075980.html), the Associated Press points to numerous failures that could hardly be conceived as errors or lack of capacity or lack of resource in protecting vulnerable civilians.
Such is the disadvantage the opposition are starting with next week in Addis Ababa. However, all is not lost, with the limited representation of 3 persons per group without any support and resource back up imposed by IGAD to weaken them, the opposition could achieve considerable success if most of the various non SPLM groups come together and stand firm as a unit with demands for peace in South Sudan based on total overhaul of governance and security sector without President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar.
In the first part of the revitalisation forum, the opposition united their ranks and that was commendable. Now it is even more important for them to deepen their unity in order to save the country from the abuses of the SPLM. It is unfortunate that the SPLM/A-IO has through its position paper for the talks closed ranks with SPLM/A-IG. These groups are only interested in hogging power to continue destroying the country. Please see, ‘Who will help South Sudan find peace’ (http://www.southsudannation.com/who-will-help-south-sudan-find-peace/)
The opposition must remember they are on their own against the entire world (the emerging South Sudanese collective belief). IGAD has wasted the last four years in the belief that their twin track strategy for peace in South Sudan based on : 1) application of the 2005 CPA model on wealth and power sharing; and 2) re-unification of the SPLM/A; will work. IGAD forcefully promoted these theories without shame in spite of the fact that it did not have any studies to back them up. The reality is these strategies are completely unfit for purpose as it has now been proven with the benefit of time.
The real problem of South Sudan is the SPLM/A itself and identity politics. To understand and familiarise oneself with the rational, please see, ‘IGAD’s Inadequate Strategy in South Sudan’ (https://pachodo.org/latest-news-articles/pachodo-english-articles/8499-igad%E2%80%99s-inadequate-strategy-in-south-sudan)
So, what is needed in the coming talks is the total overhaul of the governance and security sector. For a start, in the article ‘President Salva Kiir sabotages the compromise peace agreement’ [https://pachodo.org/latest-news-articles/pachodo-english-articles/11445-president-salva-kiir-sabotages-the-compromise-peace-agreement] it is recommended that: “ In line with the Compromise Peace Agreement, President Kiir and Dr Machar having been identified as suspects in the AUCISS Report , must not be allowed to take part in the Transitional Government of National Unity. Their respective parties can choose other persons to represent them. As President Obama of USA and Prime Minister Cameron of UK have categorically said “killers” can not be part of the solution. Therefore, neither of the two qualifies for participation in government of national unity.”
Now the necessity to exclude the duo above is based on their failure as leaders to protect the people of South Sudan in line with their duty. There are further two more reasons why the duo must be pushed aside.
First the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer in December 2013 has created an atmosphere of huge mistrust between the Jieng and Nuer. With a member of either tribe in power, South Sudan may not see peace. No Nuer will wholeheartedly accept a Jieng president because of what has happened to them. On the other hand, no Jieng will rest assured of security with a Nuer as a president due to the fear of reprisals for what they have done.
Therefore, genuine peace in South Sudan can only be achieved without any of the two in power. I have abundantly covered this point in my article, ‘President Kiir, Riek and the SPLM are the problem of South Sudan’ (https://pachodo.org/latest-news-articles/pachodo-english-articles/8686-president-kiir,-riek-and-the-splm-are-the-problem-of-rss) The international community would have helped had they condemned the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer and held President Kiir instantly responsible but their failure has made people to think there will be no accountability for the grave crimes against humanity committed by the Juba regime.
Secondly, historically the Jieng and the Nuer have been in rivalry for centuries. Even during the 21 years of war in the Sudan the two ethnic groups indulged in committing carnages against each other. For example, between 1986 and 1988 the Jieng using SPLM/A committed such crimes against the Nuer and then in 1991 the Nuer marched to Bor and avenged atrocities committed against them by the Jieng mentioned earlier. In early December 2013 prior to the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer, President Kiir repeatedly in speeches he made referred to 1991 which may have helped to mobilise the Jieng to commit the grave crimes against humanity that followed few days after.
This unhealthy relationship of the two ethnic groups no doubt is interfering with peace and stability in the country. President Kiir and Riek are unknowingly transposing their negative tribal relationship into South Sudan national issues. This is not only undesirable but poses serious danger for durable peace and stability in the country. The well being of the people of South Sudan can not be held hostage to the chaotic social relationship of the two groups. There are 63 tribes in South Sudan and it is irreasonable to expect the rest of the 61 innocent tribes to be living in a state of war endlessly due to the toxic relationship of the Jieng and Nuer.
Therefore, both President Kiir and Riek should bow out of power to allow a neutral person from the other tribes to stabilise the country and begin to build a fair and just society that protects all the people of South Sudan.
If peace and stability is ever to return to South Sudan, it is also important that the SPLA must be disbanded and a proper national army consisting of all the people of South Sudan is formed. I made this point in my article, ‘South Sudan needs intensive care’. The 2013 conflict primary broke out because the army was dominated by the Nuer and Jieng which enabled the disagreement of Present Kiir and his Vice Riek to be translated into the current conflict.
President Kiir took advantage of his executive position and used the resources of the state to commit grave crimes against humanity. The REPORT OF THE AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON SOUTH SUDAN on page 298, article 1135 “conclude[s] that there are reasonable grounds to believe that these [grave] crimes [against humanity] were committed in a wide spread or systematic manner, and that evidence points to the existence of a state or organizational policy to launch attacks against civilians based on their ethnicity or political affiliation.” President Kiir was/is able to commit these crimes because the army is overwhelmingly composed of Jieng.
Amir Idris in his article, ‘How the International Community has failed South Sudan’ confirms the tribal nature of SPLA by writing that, “President Kiir himself has admitted that his army is made up of Dinka (Jieng), his own ethnic group.” (http://www.newsweek.com/how-international-community-has-failed-south-sudan-514204)
Translating the above into governance and security sector reform in the revitalisation form talks demands a foresighted national approach. The current supposed federal system is all but in name. The reality is that it is a centralised system of governance which enabled tribalists to exploit it for their benefit thereby destroying the country. So, the choice of governance must either be a true federal system or a confederal system (I know a confederal system by definition involves independent states, however it not impossible if we agree to have it) without President Kiir and Dr Riek Machar, the failed tribalist leaders who set the country ablaze. Whatever system of governance is adopted, the structure should be able to distribute the resources of the country equitably in terms of percentages.
Wealth, and power sharing, therefore, equally should be seen from a national perspective rather than the current myopic party/movement frame adopted in ARCSS and highly preferred by the SPLM/A. The SPLM/A and it’s off shoots and IGAD believe wrongly that the division of the country’s wealth and power must be limited to SPLM only. Hence, their selfish position papers presented to the mediator. They equate SPLM to South Sudan. This is wrong and a recipe for disaster. For example, the paper presented by SPLM/A-IO divides wealth and power between Kiir and Riek within the SPLM as if the country belongs to them alone. The crucial question is: have both Kiir and Riek sacrificed the tenth of thousands of their soldiers for positions only within SPLM to share wealth and power? Have they destroyed the country just for that? Is it really worth it? SPLM/A-IO’s proposal paper has conclusively exposed Dr Riek Machar as mere tribal leader who does not have the country at heart. He has no national agenda for the country. The assertion made by Samuel Atabi in his article, ‘Riek Machar is failing the opposition against Kiir’s tyranny’ is coming to pass (http://www.southsudannation.com/riek-machar-is-failing-the-opposition-against-kiirs-tyranny/)
So wealth and power sharing should be done nationally according to regions or states to reflect equity. If we choose to have a federal or confederal system based on the three provinces of the colonial period, then wealth and power sharing should be distributed on the basis of 33.3 percent so that each state gets its right share in everything. If we choose to go by the ten states adopted at independence in 2011, then each state should get 10 percent of the national income in everything. Anything short of this will not work. The current situation where the Jieng and the Nuer allocate to themselves unjustified percentages within the SPLM/A depriving all others as a solution is unacceptable and will not work. It will not bring a durable peace and stability to the country.
It is possible that the revitalisation forum may not yield any tangible results because there appears to be no will in the region to genuinely address the problem of South Sudan and South Sudanese now more than ever know that it is only them who can get themselves out of this mess. Discussions with many South Sudanese globally through social media suggest that the international community’s purpose for holding the revitalisation forum is to legitimise President Kiir’s regime whose tenure is coming to an end. Either way, the international community hopes to grant President Kiir continuation in power through another agreement, or through a shambolic rigged election. South Sudanese have pointed at ARCSS itself as an example where the international community supported President Kiir to obtain legitimacy in 2015. Will the opposition give the regime of terror another lease of life without overhaul of the system? This remains to be seen.
In conclusion if the revitalisation forum is going to bring any peace, the region needs to act impartially with the guarantors being honest to what they have signed up for. As for the opposition, the message from Riek Machar is clear. He has allied with President Kiir against the people with his proposal of 42 percent stake in President Kiir’s government. Therefore, the other groups need to close rank and present a joint position paper which: 1) demands the exclusion of President Kiir and Dr Riek Machar in the interim period. 2) Implementation of a national approach to the issues of governance and security rather than a party targeted approach as now.
[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
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