IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais | photo | Hellen Achayo
IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais (Photo cerdit : Hellen Achayo)

At last the Eastern African regional organisation known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development abbreviated IGAD and tasked with mediating peace in South Sudan has come out clear as partial and therefore a part of the conflict in South Sudan on the side of the regime in Juba. It has done this by the letter of invitation it issued to General Thomas Cirillo Swaka, the leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS) dated 1St March 2019. The tone and language in the letter is a naked demonstration of abuse of power and authority. Though in reality, were it not for the naivety of Dr Riek Machar, IGAD should never have been a “mediator” in the conflict of South Sudan.

First, it is a trade block whose sole purpose is to promote trade among its member states. Its meddling in South Sudan political affairs is accepted by the International Community because it provided them with the chance to test out the neoliberal global theory of making trade blocks around the world to be arbiters of trade and political conflicts in their respective zones. Similar trade blocks intended for Western World like Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) faced strong resistance from Trump during his campaign for the presidency simply because such blocks are politically unaccountable. Its future is in doubt. The one intended for the Pacific countries known as Trans -Pacific Partnership on the strength of the resistance to the former ended up as a still born.

The nature of these blocks prioritises profits over the well being of people which is the cardinal objective of the global neoliberal order. With such objective, it is not a surprise that they are ill equipped to deal with political conflicts and sadly for the same reason they are prone to corruption.

Secondly, IGAD is a tool of its dominant member states to pursue their economic interest at the expense of the people of South Sudan. These two reasons are more than enough for Riek to have out right rejected IGAD as a mediator. Riek can not claim ignorance because to date all the IGAD member countries fiercely resist IGAD’s involvement in their internal political affairs/conflicts. For example, when political violence erupted in Kenya following elections in that country in 2007, it opted to employ the invaluable services of Late Kofi Annan rather than IGAD. Another example is the problem between Ethiopia and Eritrea, IGAD was neither asked nor allowed to take part in their conflict.

When it came to South Sudan in December 2013 following the Nuer ethnic cleansing, Riek without consulting erroneously accepted IGAD to be a mediator, a nightmare that is to haunt South Sudan until today. Within two days of Riek’s acceptance of IGAD it straight away declared its partiality through President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda when he visited Juba on 27/12/2013. “Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has said a group of East African nations (IGAD) has agreed to unite and defeat the South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar. He was speaking during a news conference in the South Sudanese capital Juba. The former Vice President [Dr Riek Machar] was given 4 days to agree to a cease fire in a move that threatens to widen the domestic conflict into a regional one.” Please “South Sudan: Museveni threatens Riek Machar with ‘defeat’. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxijYk_EjpU)

As if this was not enough, Riek went on to connive with President Kiir and IGAD to exclude the South Sudanese stakeholders from the peace talks in Addis Abba and to cut a long story short, the trio cobbled together the first agreement (ARCSS) which was born on 17th August 2015. President Kiir and the JCE instantly started to violate this peace agreement by decreeing the 28 states and carrying out targeted assassinations of SPLM-IO members until things came to head in July 2016 while Riek was meeting with President Kiir in J1. Lots of people lost their lives in that show down that saw Riek chased to the Democratic Republic of Congo like Napoleon chased Snowball out of the farm in the book Animal Farm. IGAD’s handling of this incident clearly was biased. It shut its mouth and supported the violent actions of the government. For example, the replacement of Riek by Taban Deng Gai and heaping blame on the victim (Riek). IGAD rewarded Riek’s connivance with incarceration in South Africa.

So from day one IGAD started dancing to SPLM/A propaganda coined by Dr Luka Biong that the solution to the problems of South Sudan lies in the reunification of SPLM/A. Biong to this date still entertains this nonsense that South Sudan may not recover “unless there is political will and national vision that can only be provided by a united SPLM” In the mind of this self proclaimed member of “Gun class” South Sudan is SPLM/A, and SPLM/A is South Sudan. He can not visualise other options because it is painful for him to imagine the demise of their ethnic system. For Biong there is no problem with SPLM/A but President Salva Kiir. If President Kiir is removed everything would be OK with SPLM/A remaining intact in place. What a delusion?

Unfortunately, the ‘International Community’ including IGAD bought Biong’s perspective of SPLM/A re-unification whole sale and proceeded to rely on it as the only solution to the problem of South Sudan instead of focusing on the root causes of the conflict. By doing so, indirectly they colluded with the regime of terror in Juba prolonging the suffering of the people of South Sudan. The people of South Sudan now appear to have lost hope in the International Community. Please see ‘The Truth hurts, but it’s to be said: Case against UN & TROIKA in South Sudan’ (http://www.southsudannation.com/the-truth-hurts-but-its-to-be-said-case-against-un-troika-in-south-sudan/)

IGAD’s support for Jieng nationalism and militarism in South Sudan to create an ethnic state is so blatant that even a child can see through it. For example, the injustices it heaps on Riek Machar and its vigorous promotion of a policy of moral equivalence to demonise the opposition in order to equate it to the regime in Juba thereby blurring the realities in the country. IGAD’s support emboldened President Kiir to the extent that he attempted to remove Riek without any condemnation speaks for itself. The people of South Sudan are watching all this unfairness with bitterness. It is IGAD’s and international community’s bias that is now pushing South Sudanese to think about Americanisation of the county. This emerging thinking is capturing the collective psyche of South Sudanese and recently General Lemi Logwonga Lomuro published an opinion titled ‘All South Sudanese Must own personal guns for self defence' which is circulating in the various South Sudanese social media like wild fire.

While the conflict deepens, Dr Ismail Wais who no doubt is conflicted issues threatening letter to National Salvation Front not knowing that his organisation, IGAD has lost credibility in the eyes of South Sudanese people. The average South Sudanese sees IGAD as a puppet of President Kiir and therefore part of the problem. Dr Wais unashamedly is copying the tactics employed by the rogue regime of the deposed President Omer Al Bashir in August/September 2018 during the peace talks in Khartoum to secure the fake IGAD agreement. President Bashir applied verbal violence and terror tactics to secure an agreement under duress in which he and President Museveni of Uganda are the main beneficiaries of South Sudanese resources. Dr Wais influenced by those unlawful techniques now feels confident he can apply them to the non signatories to complete the fake peace agreement they are waving to the world. Hence his intimidatory letter to the opposition to try to force them to board the “sinking ship”.

Dr Wais needs to know that peace can not be achieved by force. He needs to learn something from the speech of Professor Albert Einstein at the New History Society at Ritz Carlton, New York City on 14th December 1930. Einstein correctly emphasised that, “Peace can not be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. You can not subjugate a nation forcibly unless you wipe out every man, woman and child. Unless you wish to use such drastic measures, you must find a way of settling your dispute without resort to arms.” (http//archive.ppu.org/people/Einstein.html) Better still if Dr Wais heeds Pope Paul VI’s message, “If you want peace, work for Justice” (http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_p-vi_mes_19711208_v-world-day-for-peace.html) IGAD can not have it both ways. If Dr Wais is serious he needs to find other ways of bringing peace to South Sudan by acting ethically and not through crude archaic methods of intimidation and violence.

R-ARCSS is flawed and it does not address the root causes of the problems of South Sudan. So the stance of the non signatories is right and there is no need for Dr Wais to try to bamboozle the opposition. International Crisis Group’s (ICG) report ‘Salvaging South Sudan’s Fragile Peace Deal’ from page 10 to 14 shines the light diplomatically on the nature of the fake peace agreement. Khartoum according to this report angered some members of IGAD because of its greed to curve for itself a portion of the cake (South Sudan resources) using the peace agreement. Please see, ‘Salvaging South Sudan Fragile peace deal’ Africa Report No 270, 13th March 2019. The fact that this peace agreement is not about South Sudan tells it all. The deposed president of Sudan Omer El Bashir and President Yoweri Museveni were pursuing their own interest at the expense of the people of South Sudan using IGAD.

President Museveni is a known spoiler and no doubt he is the person behind the chaos in South Sudan. Recently, AMLive NTV Kenya featured an interesting debate in which President Museveni was referred to as the destabilising factor in the whole of East Africa region.

Dr Simiyu Werunga, one of the panellists during the AMLive NTV Kenya discussion titled ‘Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni accused of being a stumbling block in EAC unity’ asserted, “I want us to look at the totality of the problems we are having in East Africa. There is just one denominator. Out of all of them and the denominator is a person called Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Kaguta has problems with us (Kenya) in Miyunga land. Kaguta has problems with South Sudan because of Riek Machar and Salva Kiir. Kaguta has a problem with Kagame. Kaguta has problems with Nkurunziza and Kaguta had problems with Kabila .............. So we must understand that all these problems we are dealing with in East Africa has a source and this source is because of the longevity of the person who has been in power. He is the longest in East Africa .................... But I think we need to understand and look at East Africa from that angle: who is the denominator in all these problems. Then we start talking from that perspective”. Please access and watch the video in this link:

As Dr Werunga suggested the talks needs to start by looking at the real issues and the actors behind the chaos. Not by targeting the opposition fighting for their rights and using intimidation to promote the interest of the real spoilers. Dr Wais’ external pressure which promotes shaping of an ethnic state in South Sudan is not compatible with the internal dynamics of the conflict and the lived experiences of the people of South Sudan. This will collide and at a certain point in the near future it will lead to total failure. The policies of ethnicisation promoted by the regime in Juba will not be accepted by the people of South Sudan. If Dr Wais doubts the assertion of South Sudanese that President Kiir is committing grave crimes to create an ethnic state, let him read Carol Berger’s article, ‘Ethnocide as a tool of State-building: South Sudan and the Never ending War’. Berger is not a South Sudanese and for that matter she is an impartial reporter without interest.

The question that will arise will be: what was the point for IGAD in using coercion and violence to achieve a hopeless peace that does not solve the real fundamental problem? The Pastoral Message from the South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ meeting, Juba 26th February 2019 (http://amecea.blogspot.com/2019/03/south-sudan-catholic-bishops-urge-for.html); Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/A_HRC_40_69_0.pdf); Dr Remember Miamingi’s ‘Open letter to Ambassador Ismail Wais, IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan’ (https://www.wearesouthsudan.com/2019/03/05/open-letter-to-ambassador-ismail-wais-igad-special-envoy-to-south-sudan/) and many others in the public domain already in their analysis suggest clearly R-ARCSS will most likely collapse due to the fact that it is flawed and does not address the root causes of South Sudan problem.

The refusal of the international community to listen to the people of South Sudan through the opposition has an aura of racism. Although IGAD is an African organisation, it seems ignorant of the working of racism. The fact that millions of South Sudanese Africans are perishing due to state policies to create an ethnic state is viewed and reduced to ‘SPLM/A’ conflict should raise eye brows. There is a sense in the international community of the victims don’t matter and the perpetrators don’t need to be brought to book. This runs through all the years of the conflict. Look at the policy of moral equivalence, what does that mean? Look at the nature of the peace agreements designed so far, you will note that they are designed to lead to more chaos and death, what does that mean? Look at the oppressive nature of IGAD’s behaviour, what does that mean?

It is sad that IGAD is at the forefront of validating centuries old beliefs that Africans are sub humans and commodities. The history of slavery without doubt proves this point. Eric William’s book ‘Capitalism and Slavery’ concretely puts the dehumanisation of black people on greed fuelled by capitalism. South Sudanese are dying now because their country is endowed with resources. This means nothing to the powers that be. The life of a black man means nothing but resource and profits do. Do you see the similarities with the obnoxious Transatlantic Slave Trade of yester centuries? Anybody who cares to observe and listen carefully to the tone and language used by some members of the International Community can not miss to pick the racist vibes.

The crucial question is: how can an African organisation fail to value the lives of Africans in Africa? Why is this organisation not acknowledging the crimes committed in South Sudan since December 2013 to date by the Juba regime? Why are they validating racism by dismissing the injustice done to fellow Africans? Why is Ismail Wais allowing himself to be an agent of oppression and promotion of racist values? Frankly speaking IGAD is a disgrace to Africa.

Therefore, IGAD’s letter to the leader of National Salvation Front embodies the current global neoliberal thinking anchored on pursuance of interest and profits at the expense of everything else including human well being. So that means if IGAD member states are benefiting from the sufferings of South Sudanese that is acceptable to the world and the people of South Sudan should just put up with it. President Salva Kiir and his regime in Juba can continue committing grave crimes to realise his ethnic state so long as he allows the ‘International Community’ to exploit the resources of South Sudan. It is up to the South Sudanese people to save themselves. Simple message, is it not?

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

Elhag Paul

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