How Gen.President Kiir Did Relegated Himself from Indisputable Statesmanship
‘’A politician …is a man who thinks of the next election; while the statesman thinks of the next generation’’ James F.Clarke.
‘’ In a president, character is everything, a president does not have to be brilliant …He does not have to be clever, you can hire clever…you hire pragmatic and you buy and bring in policy wonk. You cannot rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him. He needs to have in that much maligned word but a good one nonetheless, ‘’a vision of the future he wishes to create…But a vision is worth little if a president does not have the character…the courage and heart… to see it through’’ P. N.
‘’No legacy is so rich as honesty’’ William Shakespeare.
By Abraham Chol Ayiik, Australia.
Oct 13, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — A brief explanation of the above quotes before I continue with this piece: In the first quote, I thought President Kiir was aiming to be a statesman and his focus in this crisis would have been what he wanted to leave behind to future generations but the current overt behaviour is tilting toward a different direction which is unhelpful to South Sudanese who are in limbo because of the current mess.
President Kiirs’ vision for dealing with the current crisis in south Sudan is unclear. Does President Kiir have the vision of crushing rebels so that those remaining surrender or run to other nations and then expect development in South Sudan as depicted in his current approach? The government should have not continued to use state power for what it dubbed ‘senseless war’. President Kiir should note that current vision is not sustainable and may be a recipe for chaos to South Sudan for many years to come. Moreover, this lost of plot to steer South Sudan to nationhood is destroying the nation’s manpower and civilians ‘senselessly’. If there were aims either to seek individual hegemony or other hidden motives through war, those could be self-defeating to the progress of the young nation. In fact the Politics of divided rule which set up tribes against tribes or nation against each other to the extent that it involves dirty bloody deals has not work before South Sudan seceded from Sudan and may not take South Sudan anywhere if practise again. Let Southerners choose their destiny freely without further coercion which had been deadly and a source of suffering for them in nearly fifty years. Unless president Kiir chooses a vision that will promote coexistence and development, not hatred and underdevelopment, South Sudan would have a bleak future for some time to come.
To comment for the last quote, president Kiir and his government describe this war as ‘senseless’ and a ‘power struggle’ ,yet keep taking it to rebel occupied areas. Is there any honesty there? I doubt it. But honesty may help president Kiir to revive his self-relegated statesmanship. President Kiir needs to come clean because innocent people are suffering in Upper Nile region (Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states).What will bring peace in South Sudan is neither in Uganda nor in Ethiopia but in Juba or if UN authorises ‘responsibility to protect civilians in Upper Nile region’. If president Kiir concedes executive prime minister position to the rebels today and remain head of state, that one will create a win-win situation and doing that will halt the current bloodshed of Dinka and Nuer youths set up by those who thought to liberate them and yet left them killing each other in what they called ‘senseless war’ and then accountability for atrocities committed in the war handover to the UN and AU.
How President Kiir did self-relegated his indisputable statesmanship:
First of all when South Sudan chose independence on 9 July 2011 under the guidance of President Kiir, I thought that earned him indisputable and seminal statesmanship which composed of respect and soft power not military power which may last in South Sudan politics for years to come. Instead his indecisiveness led him to choose a direction which had been a calamity to the South Sudanese people and has brought dispute to what was supposed to be an indisputable statesmanship. The images of suffering people in IDP (Internal Displaced Persons) camps and Upper Nile in general plus those dying in the front lines should have not happened because three years of independence and almost fifty years of suffering should have been deterrence to that inhumane direction. Below are the reasons that brought dispute to what was supposed to be indisputable statesmanship.
To start with, if president Kiir was aiming to attain indisputable statesmanship, this current crisis could have been avoided. After taking naive action to sack three quarters of his cabinet in July 2013 through what some termed as ‘’ill advice’’ that heightened mistrust in the nation, President Kiir would have announced his retirement pending the end of his term in 2015.Taking such actions would have served many purposes, such as lowering tensions and creating durable unity in South Sudan. President Kiir and his government cited corruption after dismissal of the entire cabinet in July 2013 but they ignored the rule of natural justice. If there was evidence that some cabinet members were corrupt, then why not institute legal action against corrupt officials and the court which is a custodial of law would have sort it out. Those with credible corrupt evidence would have faced the law and the innocent ones would have walk free. One cannot be a judge and a prosecutor at the same time without causing mess to himself.
Secondly if President Kiir was willing to seek another term in office, he would have stop beating the drum of chaos such as not obeying SPM rules apart from politicising issues which happened during liberation struggle and hijacked reconciliation that Dr Riek was spearheading to fix those issues in order to cause dispute to what was supposed to be indisputable statesmanship.
Thirdly, his attempt to micromanage the nation through presidential decrees, failing to bring book criminals who used to terrorise and kill people in the nation prior to 15th December 2013 and appointment of confidant of poor credentials all put what was supposed to be indisputable statesmanship to dispute. For example, law allows nations to establish a level playing field and if there is weak respect from the top to that level playing field (law), what would those at the bottom do? Some may abuse it. Some may have put law into their own hands at the outburst of the current crisis with previous knowledge of poor law observance from the top, messing up indisputable statesmanship and the nation.
Another significant point is that President Kiir to keep some of his indisputable statesmanship status after the alleged juba massacre would have been either to step aside and allow a third party not part of current SPM deadly machine or negotiate quickly in good faith with opponents even if it means surrendering most of his powers without relying on IGAD because a solution in any mediation process rests with the parties of the conflict not mediators. He would have taken bold step as statesman even if it means relinquishing his power to another Dinka person to finish his term to cut the bloodshed of South Sudanese because his nine years on the job and those during liberation struggle are enough achievements to let him helped the nation under this untenable situation and halt the bloodshed. Supporters of the president cited legitimacy as a reason to keep him. Did not AU indicate recently that both parties are not clean and who should be held responsible first, president because the crimes happened under his watch. Others argued that another person may rebel in the future, if rebellion is rewarded but yes when another president allows targeted killing of a tribe at large scale, then nothing will prevent that tribe not to rebel if they choose to protect themselves from tyranny. It is president to quit such that no future president should allow current allegation to happen at all circumstances. Others argued that Dr Riek had a hand in atrocities which happened during the liberation struggle in 1991, so did president and his men revenge that with alleged Juba massacre? Remember AU alleged that all parties are not clean. Thus all these arguments are irrelevant to prevent president from stepping aside for the sake of peace if he does not want to relinquish executive to position to rebels, simple as that .So President Kiir might have a hand in 2013 and Dr Riek had a hand in 1991, Both could be seen as having questions to answer, so how do we handle this situation? Both could either step down from the government or accept powering in a win-win or the UN authorises ‘RTP’ and asked government soldiers to leave Upper region and let those in Upper self-govern for sometime say, twenty to thirty years, all states share oil and resources equally and for president Kiir to run Equatoria and Bahre el Ghazel instead of allowing what appears to be ethnic cleaning or if not genocide because rebels talked about ‘just war’ and president Kiir and the dangerous president of Uganda are pushing hard to commit more atrocities while the UN and UNSC witnessed suffering of Upper civilians passively on the TV for no good reason because president Kiir dubbed this war ‘senseless’ but kept fighting it to the core.
Contentious issues in the current conflict
Oil and accountability plus Uganda president through resource interest who wanted to create Joseph Kony of South Sudan, seem to be the factors fuelling this war. But first how did this conflict started for Uganda president to participate actively creating another genocide within the alleged massacre? Or did the president of Uganda conspire for that allegation to be committed and then helped to defend it. He might wanted Nuer areas because of oil or forced President Kiir to relinquish executive power or get of South Sudan altogether to avoid further complicity in the alleged crimes. If it is a matter of their national security, they need to take their army to the border between South Sudan and Uganda to wait for their Joseph Kony there because the current war is continuing because of contention over accountability which the government seem not interested to happen while the rebels resist. This strategy will expose all parties to the conflict and they may discuss peace in good faith to quickly return peace to South Sudan sooner than later and not keep widening the hatred gap between the two communities. Thus the UN, Troika, AU and IGAD need to be realistic and not idealistic in their approach for handling of this conflict. This is another lawless environment in the making or a killing spree zone if the UNSC does not take responsibility for accountability in the conflict, assertively pushing all parties to reach a win-win solution, not through one sided approach of Museveni and in doing so, the UN accomplish its objective of saving the nations from the ‘scourge of war’.
As l stated earlier, it is vital for accountability to happen, the UN Security council need to establish their own commission or refer it to ICC under RTP. This body will pursue atrocities committed during the conflict by all parties. Those who helped South Sudan in becoming independent should not watch while it heads to human rights abuse zones. The AU commission needs strong outsiders support in order to find a lasting rule of law or justice in South Sudan, otherwise it is just a killing spree territory that had just been helped to exist in name but not behave like a nation. Doing these will save the lives of innocent people and prevent future ‘senseless wars’ according their leaders but kept fighting it while the region and UN watched or some pushed behind the scene to make it happen and that is abominable. This war has ethnic war dimensions and it need to be brought under control quickly in a win-win solution.
How to halt the current mess
Firstly President Kiir needs to restart cleaning up disputes to what was to be indisputable statesmanship. He needs to accept ceremonial presidency and then executive prime minister goes to the opposition to halt current bloodshed and vice versa in win-win. The PM will work through parliament and everything that it does will be opened to public scrutiny, thus no need for spilling more blood of southerners. If not South Sudan, all high ranking officials of the nation took an oath through a chief justice and all other officials including president attended to witness the event and this make irrelevant claims that rebel leaders never want non-executive PM because he never like to take an oath under would be king in the country through innocent blood.
If President Kiir refuse to take up that option, the region and UN Security Council should push for Nhial Deng Nhial (government chief negotiator) who is a Dinka from the home state of the president to choose either presidency or prime minister or if Mr Nhial does not want to help his people to stop current killing of each other, it should press for either Dau Aturjong or Dr Dhieu who are currently with rebels all hail from Bahre el Ghazel and who had understood the unintended consequences of what may seem to be individual hegemony pursuit being imposed on South Sudanese while innocent people became casualties. And one of these people; either Taban Deng Gai or Ezekiel Lol (former Ambassador) both from rebels who are Nuer to take remaining seat to save Dinka and Nuer who are currently in limbo, because of leadership short-sightedness and to prevent somatisation of South Sudan. President Kiir and Dr Riek should rescue their people by temporary staying out of the transition government if president Kiir does not want the first option.
Alternatively, if all these options failed, the region and UN Security should push for temporary self-government of Upper Nile region for a certain number of years, say twenty years onward and then the people of that region vote through a referendum after that period to see if they wanted to separate or not. Then the UNSC must ask the government of South Sudan to demilitarise Upper Nile region for troops from Bahr el Ghazel region in this period. This will save life and give a break to children, women, men and people of Upper Region who had suffered for many years. One condition to include in that agreement of self-government is that all southerners must share all oil revenues and other mineral resources in all part of South Sudan whether there is separation or not and they should be shared under UN observation(Norway, South Africa, UK ,China, Kenya). There is an oil factor in this war because if not, what brought Uganda president to actively participate in an ethnic war while its root causes are still contentious. The UN Security Council need to be careful not to allow genocide within alleged massacre happen while their forces are on the ground, just to be improved to curtail both side in the conflict not like the one of Uganda president which favour one side in this ‘senseless war’ according to president Kiir. Some who help South Sudan to get independent may regret later on if they do not take up bold step to push for a win-win solution. If US sent in army to help two Koreas of current UN leader, Libya, Europeans and other nations in which civilians found themselves under the same fanatic situations, why not South Sudan where the UN already have forces on the ground just to enforce ‘Responsibility to protect’ by touching some missiles and jets to push back warring parties with poor eye to civilians like those in IDP camps. The government should be forced to withdraw their forces from the following areas; Bentiu to the border of Unity and Warrap state, from Nassir to Malakal, from Ayod to the border of Ayod and Duk county, from Longechuk to other areas. These will reduce current confrontation and then find win-win solution for the young nation to move anywhere developmentally and socially. The UN Security should note that this is an ethnic war and should not rely on advice of sycophants be they Nuer or other influential individuals Dinka to keep fighting going because that also widen hatred gap between them and is unhealthy to the young nation.
Members of parliament from Upper Nile region should put their protest on record to pressure the government to end this ‘senseless war’. Peace is in Juba not anywhere else. The Civilians that they claimed to be representing are dying and suffering under the hand of the government and rebels while they are keeping quiet, what a dirty and bloody representation? These sycophants forgot that you speak on behave of your constituents either in hot or cool waters under parliamentary privileges. Even if a window to resolve this war peacefully present itself in a win-win, these sycophants give too much room to the president to conspire with foreign elements to destroy South Sudan if not Upper Nile region. They should not allow the president to continue engineer a situation like that one of transition constitution which brought South Sudan to its knee. They have to speak out against current government tricks to delay peace and continue fighting ‘senseless war’. There is no evidence on public domain to suggest a coup was attempted but misunderstanding within indiscipline army which had fought itself in many occasions after this war began and it is in public record. Why killing the nation, if not civilians of Upper Nile region? The President must be forced either to be head of state or take executive prime minister or resign and vice versa to bury ethnic dimension of the war and to prevent this negligence from the president which allowed Dinka and Nuer youth to continue killing each other for ‘senseless reason’.
Finally if the UN leader and UNSC prefer this war to continue, they need to send in trucks and airplanes (RTP) to transfer Nuer in Juba, Bor, Bentiu, Malakal, Nassir, Akobo, Dinka and Shilluk to refugee centres outside the country .if there are ones in rebels held areas, send them to their places of choices together with those surviving on waterlilies along the Nile and bush areas until peace return to South Sudan because common sense can tell that these civilians especially from the Nuer side may not come out from the centres if theirs most fear person is still running the show without checks and balances. This will give them freedom of movement and sense of security if outside South Sudan although diseases and hunger would still be a threat to them. Even if UN send in forces to support allies of forces of the government today and defeat the rebels, what will bring out these civilians to be under their most fear person remaining in charge is something that need the UN and UNSC to think about and I hope activating ‘RTP’ is vital here. Let us be realistic and moralistic here UN and UNSC. This is ethnic war and UN should come clean not to let president Kiir held them to hostage and Museveni messing up South Sudan in a broad day to create part like Northern Uganda of Joseph Kony in South Sudan!
Another thing the UN Security Council must do to prevent future ethnic fighting of similar magnitude in the country:
The UN Security Council need to rearrange current UNMIS forces into five small bases of peace keepers with protection focus for the next twenty years in South Sudan; one between Unity and Warrap State (France, Russia-jet), one between Jounglei State and Central Equatoria State(South Korea, India, Canada-jet),Western Equatoria Lakes and Western Bahre el Ghazel state (Egypt, Swill, Germany-jet),Juba (China, US, Ethiopia ,UK-Jet) and Malakal (Denmark, Kenya, Australia-jet).These mentioned members will helped to equip these forces and provide technical assistance to these officials and to the government of the day during that period. This must be done after peace return back to the nation to polish South Sudan toward co-existence and development not hatred and underdevelopment path. The government of the day naive to public discourse, election phobia and competitions over few resources are currently a threat to civilians’ in South Sudan and the need for UN forces with strong protection focus to have an eye on human abuses and with government of the day in areas of public safety. As to the funding of UNMIS in this period, the UN pay some, members suggested will help with some funds, Jet and contribute technical officials to work with current forces and government of the day, South Sudan may contribute some from their oil and missiles would be an issue if there is more abuses from any elements including government of the day or any party. This amount would be less than what is going to them through refuges assistance due to instability in the nation.
I suggest that because there seem to be a pattern of human abuses in South Sudan and if that is allowed to continue, South Sudan may have some problems to hunt her for years to come. That is why it is essential the UN bases with Jets and missiles support to be kept longer to monitor future human abuses be it from government or any party because South Sudanese have suffered for too long. The government of the day and South Sudanese in general will work to put their houses in order during that twenty year period. This will include training of army, secret agents, police and judiciary to uphold justice in the nation and mainly to stay out of tribal leanings or be impartial at all cost. Also the politicians in this period will warm up to the important of tolerant, coexistence and service delivery which are vital to the success of any nation. The forces are already on the ground, just extension of period to almost twenty years like what Australia did in East Timor although this was a short time frame with protection focus and properly equip militarily.
In conclusion, if the UN Security Council and its partners who helped to midwife South Sudan failed to take bold action to bring this terrible tribal conflict under control and remained there in South Sudan for at least the next twenty years, they must know that they have helped to create a killing spree territory for naive mentality on nationhood and outside forces which may get deceived because of oil to criminalise South Sudan territory to the extent that they may create other Josephs Konyies of South Sudan if not curtailed quickly. Thus chances of having a successful South Sudan without strong equipped UN forces in the next twenty years are very low. Wake up UN Security council and shut the door of this tribal fighting and drive South Sudan back to coexistence and development, not hatred and underdevelopment path.
Also the UN Security Council should addressed the present of Ugandan army forces in South Sudan because there is an allegation of massacre there or did president of Uganda conspire for that allegation to be committed and then helped to defend it. If it is a matter of their national security, they need to take their army to the border between South Sudan and Uganda to wait for their Joseph Kony there and peace might have come soon in the nation. How low, idealistic and dangerous the UN became under a leader whom his people and nation were rescue under the same dilemma and fanatic situation. Photos of Nuer people in Juba, Bentiu, Bor, Malakal and others in Upper region and Dinka in Upper Nile flooded the internet for relief request while the UN leader seating with humanity professors in New York who turned to rape as main concerned without attacking root cause of the problem and superpowers some of them used to claim to b saviour of the world and won peace laureate watched the photos but remain quiet. I asked what is wrong in the world system even simple problems is being allow to run out of hand? Would that be good the UN send trucks and airplane to Nuer in Juba, Bor, Bentiu and Malakal to Kenya or Sudan for their safety and those Dinka or Shilluk to Juba for their safety as well and then leave this parties to fight, Or rescue Dinka and Nuer in a win-win approach or give Nuer the guns to defend themselves from Uganda president and Dinka president.
Finally if Gen.President Kiir was aspiring to attain indisputable statesmanship; he would have not chosen hardliner approach of African leaders which had created deadly incurable tribal relations in the continent since those fanatics assumed power. He would have governed flexibly and strictly observe the rule of law for all citizens and the country would not find itself in this precarious position. This means resisting advices that were encouraging him to breach any law. Additionally, announce his retirement after realising that the tension at the time were unhealthy to the nascent nation. The benefits of these were; avoiding current bloodshed; achieving indisputable statesmanship and long-term South Sudan stability I called ‘Mandela wisdom’.
The author, Abraham Chol Ayiik, can be reached at cholayiik2004@hotmail