A Short Response to the Issues of the Two Armies, Wealth-Sharing and Debts Raised by Jacob D. Chol as Some of the Reasons Why the Peace Talks Collapsed
By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak,
April 9, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — In an article published by the Sudan Tribune on April 8, 2015, Jacob D. Chol of the University of Juba attempted to analyzed the reasons why the IGAD process ended without an agreement. The title of the article is “Overhaul needed in stalled South Sudan peace process”. He identified and analyzed what he referred to as “…three drivers why the South Sudan peace process has come to a standstill.” These three drivers included use of a misguided model to resolve the conflict, IGAD’s inconsistency in the mediation and Zero-sum interest of regional countries.
My interest is in the first ‘driver’ because it blames both the IGAD and the SPLM/A. All the three reasons advanced are silent on whether or not there should be any blame on Salva and his regime in Juba for the failure. That makes the analysis and conclusions interesting to me. The other two reasons can be responded to by IGAD and IGAD countries which the article has identified as inconsistent and having zero-sum interests.
In his analysis of the first point, the author seemed to put the blame specifically and primarily on IGAD for pursuing what he labeled as ‘misguided model’ of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). He did not elaborate, though, enough to convince the readers that the CPA model was actually used by the IGAD to end the current war. But, he mentioned and blamed the idea of having two armies, wealth-sharing and disclosure of debts as having some responsibility for the failure of the last round of talks. These ideas were parts of features of the CPA in 2005. It might be the reason why the author talked of the CPA model. These should not be the only reasons why IGAD could be accused of plagiarizing the CPA model, especially if the IGAD was not the one introducing these ideas (SPLM/A introduced them).
Secondarily, the author blamed the SPLM/A on these same three issues. Which is which? It has to be one of the two that should be blame, if any on these issues. Blaming both for the same issues would mean to suggest that the two conspired. The confusing thing is that the author did not explicitly make such a claim.
On the issue of the two armies, Jacob stated as follows: “First, let us look at how the IGAD mediators have pursued a misguided model for the South Sudan peace process. Rather than analyse the situation for what it is, mediators have simply plagiarised the Sudanese peace process model which ultimately led to the independence of South Sudan in 2011. The agreement between the ruling National Congress Party of Sudan and the SPLM worked because it aided the secession of the then Southern Sudan.” I agree that situations should always be analyzed for what they are. I believe that every situation is unique and different from others in one way or the others. A solution to one particular problem should not be mechanically applied to other problems if conditions are not identical. However, Jacob failed to disclose how the 2005 agreement was plagiarized in the Addis Ababa process.
Yes, the CPA led to the Independence of South Sudan and that is a measure of success. The author of the article stated that “The agreement worked because it aided secession of the Southern Sudan.” It should be in a reverse position. Secession worked because the agreement was implemented almost in good faith. How can he prove that the agreement would not have worked if it was not intended for the secession of South Sudan?
Jacob seems to believe that the ideas of the two armies, wealth-sharing and disclosure of national debts were responsible for the failure of what he called the 2005 CPA model used by the IGAD in Addis Ababa. He stated, “This model fails for the current South Sudan situation particularly when we consider the elements of having two armies, wealth sharing and contracted debts. In peace theory, underpinned by international law, armies are meant to serve the State, not personal or political parties. So how could two standing armies protect and defend the constitutions of party leaders? Therefore, the idea of having two armies in a would-be South Sudanese peace accord is a misplaced ambition with serious negative consequences.” The second sentence is a complete contradiction of the authors stated belief that a “…situation…” should be analyzed “…for what it is…” His idea of a “…peace theory, underpinned by international law…” dictates that there should not be two armies is general, and it does not address specific problems in a particular state—problems that might dictate creation of two armies for a particular purpose within a specific time period. It is a contradiction. In addition to that, the author was not specific as to which peace theories and international law that he was referring to, which he thinks should fit the current South Sudanese situation.
The two separate armies are meant for a short period for a specific reason. It is not as if they shall remain separate forever. The two armies will work together to protect the people of South Sudan and the territorial integrity of the country. As such, they are meant to protect national interests, not personal or partisan. After all, both groups are negotiating as two pieces of one SPLM Party. Therefore, the idea of the two armies is not a misplaced ambition. It goes to the heart of the problem that the peace process attempts to resolve.
The author’s idea that secession and having new identity for a people are the only reasons why one state should have two separate armies is inaccurate. He stated, “The only way this (having two armies) would be feasible is if Dr Riek Machar has ambitions of secession and new identity of the people.” The author’s problem is that he seems to have intentionally limited is reasoning to the 2005 CPA arrangement between choosing either unity or separation between the Arab North and African South. I think that was an accident of history. Sudan’s problem was not a need for secession; Sudan’s problem was not geographical; and Sudan’s problem was not about a need for a new identity. Ours was a problem with the systems created by the successive governments in Khartoum after Independence. This was the main reason for us to say to the North in 2005, ‘Hey, make unity attractive’. Therefore, it is not a condition that one has to demand secession between two or more people with separate identities before demanding two separate armies to bring a war to an end.
Jacob should remember that in 1997, Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA) was signed. It actually became the basis for demanding two separate armies in the 2005 agreement. However, the 1997 KPA did not result in the South seceding. In that agreement, there were two armies provided for, choice between unity and secession was provided for and it was the African South that was supposed to go on a referendum. It was exactly what the CPA adopted. Nevertheless, under the KPA, separation never happened, not because there was no provision for two armies. Nor was it because separation was not provided for as one of the choices, nor was it because we ceased to be African South dealing with Arab North. But, it was because good faith implementation was lacking on the part of Khartoum. This is an example that demanding an arrangement for two armies is not necessarily an automatic license to secession.
The other example that Jacob D. Chol failed to realize is that of Nepal. After signing the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the two Nepalese armies remained separate for five (5) years. The condition for the Maoist Rebels was to see to it that a republican government was established under a truly permanent national constitution that gave state power to the people before the two armies could be integrated to form one national army. When the reform conditions were eventually met, the two armies were integrated, and the country has remained united ever since. This is another example that having two armies in the immediate post-war period does not indicate a desire for separation or creation of a separate and new identity of a people. Therefore, the SPLM/A’s demand for two armies during the transition is meant to provide a guarantee for the good faith implementation of the would-be peace agreement. It has nothing to do with separation or creation of a separate new identity of a people.
In regards to the wealth-sharing, the author stated, “Likewise with the idea of wealth sharing, one wonders what wealth Dr Machar of SPLM-IO wants to share with President Salvar Kiir? Is it the oil wealth of the Greater Nile region? Under the 2012 Petroleum Revenue Management Act, there is already a wealth-sharing agreement in place with two per cent of the country’s oil wealth goes to the oil-producing states.”
I believe that Jacob D. Chol talked about wealth-sharing in a general sense. He has not seen the SPLM/A’s position paper that was on the table for negotiation in Addis Ababa. Had he seen it, he would not have asked a question such as the first one in the above paragraph. There is no such thing as wealth-sharing between Dr. Riek Machar and Salva Kiir. The wealth-sharing that the SPLM/A proposed was (and still is) one between the national government and state governments. Not just one between the national government and oil producing states (as is provided for in the 2012 Petroleum Revenue Management Act). Our current situation is such that wealth belongs to the national government that only decides what and when to give to the states at will. The states do not have any right to demand from the national wealth. There should be a situation where states can also share in the revenues nationally generated, whether from oil wealth in Greater Upper Nile, gold, taxes, and et cetera. If oil is a national wealth, it should not be just the oil producing states that should benefit directly. Other South Sudanese states should also benefit directly, just as the national government benefits directly. They should not just wait for handouts from a supposedly generous national government.
Therefore, no one demands wealth-sharing between Dr. Riek Machar and Salva. Instead, Dr. Riek Machar and the SPLM/A are demanding for wealth-sharing arrangement between the national government and the people of South Sudan through their respective states.
Jacob had the following to say about the debts: “SPLM-IO are also insisting that the full extent of SPLM-IG debt is made public which is okay, however, the group is believed to have borrowed millions of dollars for their armed operations which they hope to repay after peace is achieved.”
Why would such a position be detrimental to the peace process? Why would the author assume and conclude that the SPLM/A has debts that it wants to repay by asking for disclosure of national debts? The SPLM/A believes that our resources are very limited. These very limited resources are what we have (and will continue to have for a while) to fund the development projects once peace is signed; these very limited resources are what we will have to carry out reforms during the transitional period; these very limited resources are what we will have to carry out rehabilitation activities once peace is signed; these very limited resources are what we will have to make a saving for our future generations; and these very limited resources are what we will have to service our national debts once peace is signed.
In order for the country to be able to take up these responsibilities, there is a great need for planning so that specific allocations are made to suit specific purposes within our future financial capacity. Without knowing how much national debt there is, how would the Transitional Government of National Unity plan what to allocate to servicing debts? In order to prevent future conflicts in this area, there is a need to know the amount so that it becomes part of the agreement. There should not be allowed a room for one to later surprise the others by saying, ‘Oh, there is a loan from so and so that we must take care of as a nation’. If we allow such a situation and similar grey areas in the peace agreement, we are basically inviting rooms for detrimental manipulations in the future.
I hope these remarks make some clarification on the issues initially raised by Jacob D. Chol in his April 8 article. It is up to the readers to make sense of the two articles. Those in Juba can access position papers from the government delegation who live in Juba and compare them with Jacob’s article to establish the truth independently. Those who are outside and have relationship with the SPLM/A should request from the local SPLM/A offices so that they are up to date on issues that were involved in the negotiations in Addis Ababa.
The Author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.