The Fallacies of Bashing Both Sides in South Sudan Conflict
By Amb. Stephen Par Kuol,
Former State Minister of Education.
March 23, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — The diplomacy of war and peace making on the prevailing crisis in South Sudan has ushered in a querulous language that tends to blame both sides of the armed conflict for every thing on equal measure. It is a fallacious rhetoric that defies the logic of cause and effect. Evidently, it has it that nobody is at the receiving end of this crisis. It lyrically goes: Both sides are dishonouring Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COH), both sides are frustrating the mediators by not negotiating in good faith, both sides are responsible for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country, e.t.c. For lack of words, we have called it “both sides narrative.”
It is a long thread of diplomatic literature loaded with prejudice and intentional ignorance. Subsequently, the records are misinformed beyond rebuttal. For even worse, Makuei Lueth’s SSTV has done some permanent damage on the psyche of its captive national audience who must be told exactly what Kiir’s fascist regime needs them to hear. Like in Joseph Geobel’s culture of anti-Semitic Propaganda, in Makuei Lueth’s culture of demagogic propaganda, a lie repeated so many times can be accepted to be the truth. It is a fallacious communication in which, the three “f “words: facts, fictions, and fallacies are woven to mean the same thing (political lies). One blatant fallacy Juba is apparently getting away with for instance is the distortion that the opposition is demanding two armies for the same country. This must be exposed as a malicious misrepresentation of our position on security arrangement calling for“ a gradual and systematic amalgamation” of the two armies to create a new national army with true national character before the end of the transitional period.
The opposition also presented the crisis as an opportunity to recruit from the under-represented communities and regions into the inherently Jieng and Naath dominated army. This is timely and critical, not only to end the cycle of political violence that tends to take ethnic lines, but also to establish a new professional national army that reflects all the faces of South Sudan as an ethnically diverse nation. In demographic term, this means proportional representation of all our 64 ethnic groups in the new national army. Our position also calls for demobilization of all irregular armed groups including our Civil Defence Force (White Army), Mathiang-Anyor, Dotku Beny or any other active community based armed group throughout the country. Another fallacious fiction is the narrative that the opposition demanded payment of war debts it has incurred since it took arms in December 2013.
To the contrary, what we have demanded and are still demanding is the public disclosure of all the illegal debts Kiir’s Kleptocracy has been incurring in the name of the sovereign people of South Sudan (sovereign guarantees). That we see as our rights as citizens of South Sudan who will inherent those debts by virtue of being citizens under the international law of agency. We have also presented wealth sharing between states and the centre in a decentralized federal system. Speaking from ten years experience we believe that our proposal is beneficial to all our people in the states as the later has always been taking a lion share of the national budget (90%). This does not mean wealth sharing between the two waring parties as has been fallaciously presented in Juba’s media. This is another bizarre miss representation of the facts and issues presented in written public documents.
This fallacious propaganda cannot be allowed to go on without rebuttal. The facts must be filtered from fictions and fallacies to get into the crux of the issues at hand. In order to resolve this conflict, a new tone of communication must be created. The diplomatic community and the global media must scientifically put the accurate weight of responsibility on a balanced scale. It is imperative that each party is squarely held responsible for what it does or does not do in this blame game without rules. In another word, there is a critical need to put blame where it is due and credit where it is long over due. Flatteries and diplomatic niceties do not resolve conflicts. A crisis of this magnitude in South Sudan needs aggressive and preventive diplomacy that must start with fundamental questions to address the root causes of the conflict as follows: what triggered the crisis in the first place, who did what then and who is doing what now!!
Unlike in December 2013 when Juba managed to mislead the world with the devilish gimmickry they called coup attempt, time has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Kiir himself manufactured the ongoing crisis as a ploy to extend life span of his fascist regime. That exploded in his face when his own institutions including the court and the military intelligence dismissed the coup narrative he is still chasing like a wind. Events since then have proven that it is the same tyrant regime that cooked the crisis, which is now violating all the agreements it signed with opposition since January 2014. The UN and the international humanitarian community in South Sudan have also witnessed that it is Kiir’s regime that has been hampering humanitarian operations by harassing United Nation Mission and murdering aid workers in Greater Upper Nile. With Yowery Museveni behind him and appeasement from the region and beyond, Kiir has been overtly violating all the agreements including the COH. Militarily, the two fascist regimes of Kiir and Museveni’, their allied Sudanese terrorist groups and other foreign mercenaries have been on the offensive gaining more territories to dictate the term of negotiation on the table until today.
On the diplomatic front, Kiir’s regime has been using the dialogue as a public relations exercise. They were always in Addis-Ababa to buy time as they continued to toil for military solution. In what looked like monologue with deaf, they proposed that it is the opposition as the aggrieved party to make presentations and the government reacts to those presentations. This non-dialogical approach was designed to waste time and frustrate the whole process. We welcomed that in good faith and proceeded as agreed upon. From the political framework to rainbow document, the opposition made elaborate presentations on all the areas of needed reforms in Kiir’s dysfunctional system. On structural and institutional reforms, we made the case for the need to overhaul the current civil service and the public security sector, which is currently dominated by Kiir’s clan. At the constitutional level, we exposed the decay of the regime by pointing out that the two branches of Kiir’s government (judiciary and executive) have been made the dockets of Kiir’s home state. To entrench and institutionalize their kleptocracy, they have also taken the docket of treasury (both Finance and Central Bank). For those who know the truth, this depicts Kiir’s clannish oligarchy as a criminal establishment that must be dismantled to form an inclusive national government.
On governance and system of government, we made the case for amendment of the existing one-man’s constitution to implement full-fledged federal system. In response, Kiir’s delegation acknowledged that federalism is historical and political demand of the people of South Sudan but maintained without elaboration that the time to address it is not now. On demobilization of irregular forces and formation of a new army, they have maintained that their political status as a legitimate government grants them the right to recruit from their ethnic states of Warap and Nothern Bar-Elghazal. In sum, the opposition forces and other stake holders made the case for institutional reforms, democratic transformation, peace, reconciliation and accountability for war crimes committed by both sides of the armed conflict. Kiir’s delegation dismissed all the grievances and made it a point that they will not allow any thing that tempers with the status quo. To them, meaningful power sharing with other parties for a democratic transition leading to free and fair election means regime change and ouster of Salva Kiir. That is very clear from their English, which is heavily loaded with legitimacy and the sovereignty of South Sudan. From what we have heard so far, Kiir and the company have arrogated the sovereignty of South Sudan to themselves as their sole possession. According to them, legitimacy and sovereignty give them all the rights including the right to amend the existing transitional constitution to indefinitely cling to that dictatorial power.
It goes without informing the people of South Sudan, the region, Africa and the world that the same rule of guns attitude that Kiir and his cronies used to obstruct the democratic process and commit mass homicide, has not been deterred. They took it to the peace table in Ethiopia, not only once, but several times during the course of the IGAD mediated peace talks. That attitude was well represented on the table by Kiir’s cheeky team of negotiators. We the opposition and the IGAD envoys have been through the thick and thin of that since January 2014. We had always been there to take the pain of Nhial Deng’s eloquent blusters, Makuei Lueth’s sarcastic outbursts and Kok Ruei’s thunderous tantrums! The truth must be told that Kiir’s delegation had never gone to Addis in genuine search for peace.
Counting on military victory in the field, they had only two things to offer on the table: permanent ceasefire and re-integration of opposition forces into their tribal army( Mathiang Anyor) within three months. Any thing else is deferred to what they called National Dialogue in Juba. They also challenged the opposition to represent only those areas under their military control. The Mediation and all the stakeholders present heard that loud and clear as a negotiation of the victors versus the vanquished. The rest are contemptuous gestures against the opposition parties (whether armed or not), civil society organizations and the clergy. It is a militaristic attitude that tends to push all to protracted armed struggle. Otherwise, one can conclude with ease that Kiir and the company have lost the political debate. The only song they can sing with rhyming lyrics is the Legitimacy.
What they are deliberately ignoring though is the cold truth that the clock is ticking toward the end of their bogus legitimacy. I think it is time for, Kiir and the sycophantic surrounding to understand that the etiological meaning of the Greek word “tyranny” means illegitimate rule! In Dr. Richard Mula’s recent articulation at the talks in Addis-Ababa, “Kiir’s legitimacy has been eroded by his own despotic behaviour that has plunged the country into this mess”. Secretary Kerry of United States also put it correctly that “Legitimacy is not a presumed right of Kiir’s government”. True, it is the people who confer legitimacy and it is never a divine entitlement. It follows that the same people who conferred it can revoke it at any given time. The conventional practice teaches that it is not the election that sustains legitimacy but how the elected political leader in question governs the country.
In any case, this destructive war of shame must be ended and this needs courageous leadership from both sides. Dr. Luka Biong of Juba University has said it all in his recent article that “the Chairman of the SPLM and the President of the Republic has a moral and national responsibility to provide leadership toward national consensus to resolve this crisis. Other parties and stakeholders including civil society and the clergy have the same responsibility to bring peace but the reality on the ground in South Sudan is that Salva Kiir wields the most omnipotent power to bring it by stroke of a pen. Kiir in his diatribe belamed Dr. Riek Machar for every thing but, the world should have known by now that Dr. Riek Machar has lost it all since July 2013. To add the wound to the insult, members of his community were callously butchered in Juba. The survivors of that genocide are now subjected to protracted suffering in UN camps throughout the country. He had to escape for his own life in what turned out to be a fabricated coup.
Putting the credit where it is due, he has courageously managed to turn all that humiliation and mass anger into a national resistance movement calling for institutional reforms, peace with justice, democracy, reconciliation and national healing. He does not have any thing else to give. He is ready to do every thing including swallowing his pride to work with Salva Kiir again to stop the bloodletting. He has been in Ethiopia now for the last one year to achieve just that. Hence, the ball is on Salva Kiir’s court. The word though is that the time for presidential amnesties, re-integration, cosmetic deals and political accommodations is over. The prevailing crisis in South Sudan needs comprehensive political and security arrangement to get our people out of this slippery pool of blood.