REMNASA’s Take on the IGAD Sponsored Talks and The Key Provisions and Justification For Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan
July 21, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Recently IGAD, which has been engaged unsuccessfully to bring peace to war torn South Sudan for the last 2 years, issued yet another peace framework called “key Provisions and Justification for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan” as the basis for negotiation in the forthcoming round of the IGAD Plus talks. Though REMNASA is not directly involved in these talks, as a Revolutionary Movement actively striving to create a meaningful democratic change in South Sudan thus legitimatizing it as a formidable and responsible stakeholder in future establishment of prosperous democratic South Sudan, is strongly obliged to comment on the IGAD proposal. This is because the proposed Agreement is not only going to affect the current antagonistic forces in South Sudan but in fact the whole citizentry of country. This agreement is supposed to aim at not only bringing the current war to an end and subsequently end the carnage and cycle of death which has become the daily life of the people of South Sudan but it is also meant to create a new political dispensation that can guarantee peace, create hope and foster rapid development in the war ravaged country. In its peace framework, IGAD has proposed 7 interrelated chapters namely:
- Transitional governance arrangements. This includes formation of broad based transitional government, tasks and terms of the transitional government, compromise on power sharing, schedules of the powers, expansion of national legislature, reform of the judiciary, arrangement for states most affected and national elections.
- Permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements. This includes terms for permanent ceasefire, unification of security forces, monitoring the ceasefire,demilitarizing the national capital, reforming the security sectors and unifying the forces and interim command arrangements
- Humantarian assistance and reconstruction. This includes commitment of waring parties to provision of humantarian services, voluntary return of the displaced and rebuilding conflict affected areas
- Resources, economic and financial management arrangements which includes key institutional reforms to selected institutions in the country, managing revenue and establishement of three institutions namely national revenue authority, public procurement and asset disposal authority, and an economic and financial management authority (EFMA)
- Transitional justice: accountability, national reconciliation and healing. This includes formation of commission for truth, reconciliation and healing and exercise of justice abd accountability for those culpabe.
- Permanent constitution making process
- Establishing robust joint monitoring and evaluation commission
While REMNASA welcomes and strongly supports IGAD’s consistent and sincere efforts to resolve the costly war in South Sudan, REMNASA contends that IGAD’s approach to the peace negotiation and priorities advanced here are wanting and surely will not lead to realisation of genuine and lasting peace in South Sudan. IGAD appears to believe now and indeed in the past that the problem in South Sudan is power sharing by the two protagonists in South sudan conflict and assumption that if you fix the power sharing equation, then permanent peace will be realized. This is the concept that IGAD continuous to hold despite the failure of the past peace talks. In the same vein the Arusha talks were based on believing that the problem of South Sudan stems from the SPLM split. REMNASA wonders how stupid the people of South Sudan would be willing to kill thousands of their own because they would like Riak Macher to be the Vice President or Prime Minister of South Sudan. How can such a position help heal the rift that has come into the country after all Riak held this position for nearly 8 years yet the country slit into chaos and into a failed state.
REMNASA believes that this concept is unfortunate and if IGAD Plus is threading in that line, the talks are already a stillbirth. This is basically because the problem of South Sudan is a constitutional and institutional problem which started right after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This problem predates the 16-17 December 2013 Juba massacre. What happened in Juba was a calculated move by a dictatorial regime bent to rid itself of any democratic challenge so as to continue perpectuating its domination of the people of South Sudan. Therefore, by starting the peace talks with power sharing means IGAD has not learnt any lessons from the previous rounds of the talks. Secondly, IGAD appears to be content with treating symptoms of the disease in South Sudan rather than trying to manage the etiology of the disease even how hard the causes of the disease may be. REMNASA believes that this approach is simplistic and is not in the best interest of the people of South Sudan because the people need guinine and lasting peace.
Analyzing the IGAD porposals critically, it becomes glaringly clear that IGAD is ignoring the fact that fundamental governance and constitutional issues are at stake in South Sudan. The dictatorship that has become the order of the day in South Sudan, the torture and killing of the innocent civilians and journalists, corruption, land grabbing, nepotism, tribal and institutionalized hegemony, domination, use of tribal forces to cause terror, ethnic cleansing and scotch earth policies, the turning of the state institutions such as the parliament and judiciary into rubber stamps and worse of all creation of private army to replace national army are paramount ingredients of Juba regime and all these things preceded the Juba incident. Therefore, these issues cannot be resolved by trying to cobble together a transitional government and initiating selected reforms such as revenue management, constitutional making and security reforms. In fact the state of South Sudan is too deformed to be reformed by making selective reforms. South Sudan needs overhaul so that new political dispensation is ushered into the country with new managers but not the managers who have slept on job and created the turbulence in the country.
Secondly, IGAD is ignoring the fact that thousands of people have lost their lives and loved ones in Juba, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Bentui in the hands of the very people IGAD wants to entrust the reconciliation, justice and accountability in their hands. This is simply because there will be nothing called independent commissions as long as the very people who committed these crimes will be in power influencing the formation and functioning of the commissions. In addition. IGAD is turning a blind eye on the ever increasing internecine cattle rustling wars in Lakes and Eastern Equatoria states and worse of all the emerging serious and catastrophic war in Bahr El Ghazal, Western and Central Equatoria states that is likely to impact negatively on the economic situation in East and Horn of African counries.
Aware and convinced of these facts, touched by the yearning of South Sudanese for permanent peace, reconciliation, unity and peaceful co-existence, REMNSA urges the IGAD Plus that the approach to the next peace negotiation should be changed to a strcutured and all inclusive negotiation so that it is able to look at the entire issues in South Sudan. This means the talks should involve all stakeholders in South Sudan and not only the current protagonist in the war. This is simply because by engaging only the current warmongers within the concept of power sharing and limited reforms does not guarantee permanent peace. IGAD should realize that patching the South Sudan state will only go along way to inspire other communities or interested parties that are not satisfied with the the cobbled power sharing oriented peace agreement to likely go to the bush so that their voice can be heard and listened to. This will be an ugly precedence. Therefore, in REMNASA’s view, IGAD should structure the peace talks in phases. These phases should start with problem identification and end with formation of implementation transitional authority and election of democratic government. REMNASA suggests the following:
Phase 1: Convene a round table conference involving all stakeholders in South Sudan to map out the problems inflicting the country. The conference should explore all the consitutional and governance issues that the country is facing; They must review the short-comings of the current constitution, the governance system, the weaknesses of the current governance institutions such as the partliament, judiciary, the current commissions including the human rights and anticorruption commissions, the security and army composition and structure, their affiliation to the SPLM and their roles in management of security in the country. It should determine if South Sudan has a national army or just tribal militias.
Phase 2. The round table conference guided by IGAD Plus consultants should explore the strategy to fix all the problem identified and come out with a blue priint to usher in the processing of overhauling the South Sudan state from the current failed dictatorial state to a people oriented democratic state. At this stage, South Sudanese should be able to agree on the form of governance based on devolving the powers of the state and empowering the people to manage their own affairs in truly democratic atmosphere. To REMNASA no better form of governance exists other than a federal system where the presidential degrees become things of the past. This means strengthening and empowering the people themselves to control their resources, be responsible for planing of the state development and to control the security apparatus in their states. In others words, the organized forces other than the national army and specified federal police shall be the preserve of the state authorities. In addition clear functions must be attributed to the different levels of the governement. While the federal government would retain the policy making functions for the country , all services delivery functions such as health, education, infratsructural development etc must be develoved to the state.
The conference should also deliberate and concur on separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary and the ways to make each of them independent and as a “checks and balances” to each other. The Judiciary and anticorruption commission mandate must be strengthened so as to deal with corruption decisively. Resources dstribution between the federal government and state and interstate distribution must be agreed upon as well as state resource contribution to the federal government. Setting up of resource management structures and monitoring agencies must be part and partial of the deliverations. South Sudanese should also agree on building a natinal army that reflects the image and the composition of the country. It is sad to note that the current armed forces on the government and as well as on the opposition sides are unfortunately reflective of ethnic representation and therefore it is futile to consider that these forces can justbe amalgamated to become the future army of South Sudan. South Sudanese must agree on the number of the future army needed for a population of nearly 12 million people instead of having thousands of soldiers whose high percentage are generals who in the first place were promoted and oriented tribally. The composition of the army is critical for survival of the South Sudan nation. When all these pertinent issues are agreed upon, then the conference should be able to select a committee that can crystallize these points into a permanent federal constitution for South Sudan. This shall be done during the transitional period.
Phase 3 of the negotiation should focus on stopping the current war. This means discussing the ceasefire modalities, separation of the two or more armies during the interim period, setting up of disarmament commission including monitoring of the ceasefire and security arrangement during the transitional period. This phase could also deal with humantarian issues, reconciliation, transitional justices, forgiveness and compensation.
Phase 4 which should be the final phase should discuss the formationa of the transitional government. REMNASA is of the view that this is a critical stage which should focus on preparing the nation for establishment of transparent and accoutable democratic governance in South Sudan. Since the current leadership in government and in opposition are indeed part of the mess in South Sudan, they should be persuaded to stay out of the transitional government and only come into governement through democratic means when elections are called after the transitional period. In fact in Arusha this is what the split SPLM parties stated, “The parties acknowledge a collective responsibility for the crisis in South Sudan that has taken a great toll on the lives and property of our people”. By this admission these leaders have conceded that they created chaos in South Sudan because of their failure to provide effective leadership. They have admitted that they have failed the people of South Sudan who had voted overwhelmingly for them to steer the country into prosperity and rapid development. They have admitted that they have failed to unite, lead and administer the nation and have failed the peoples’ mandate.
On the other hand, the transitional period should be taken as a decision time by the current leadership. They can make South Sudan to take the path of reconciliation and embark on peaceful co-existence and development or they drag this great nation to sink with them during the period of their demise. Taking path of reconciliation and peaceful co-existence means the leadership in Juba and SPLM in opposition must negotiate in good faith for peace and transitional government without them. This is because with them in any form of government, genuine reconciliation will not happen in South Sudan. It would be like covering a fire with mud without extinguishing it completely.
Secondly, REMNASA conceives that these leaders must face peoples’ truth and reconciliation commission to ask for forgiveness from the people of South Sudan because there is no South Sudanese who has not been aggrieved by their reckless leadership. When they are forgiven, REMNASA believes reconciliation will be attained and therefore these leaders can become eligible to effectively participate in the democratic elections after the transitional period. Conversely the SPLM party should take the transitional period as a breather to reconcile itself, unite and rebuild itself to face the election as a united party instead of disrupting the transitional period by intra-party wrangles. If the SPLM leaders on both side of the divide believe that they have strong following in South Sudan then they should not worry to stay out of power during the transitional period which is meant for reconciliation and national building because it is possible that they can emerge to participate in the election.
Finally phase 4 of the talks should also discuss the election reforms including setting up of electoral commission, delineation of electoral constituencies, population census and conduct of the elections. This phase should then end with announcement of an interim transitional government led by technocrats whose mandate is solely to implement the resolutions of the negotiation culminating in democratic election at the end of the transitional period. Before the transitional government takes oath of office, all current institutions including the national executive, parliament, judiciary, state authorities and commissions will stand dissolved. A transitional national parliament should be appointed whose sole function is to pass the drafted national constitution. This is to ensure that nobody should exist to alter the resolutions of the negotiations in the country.
In conclusion, REMNASA would like to reiterate that it does not concur with the current IGAD approach to the negotiations in South Sudan, its framework and its proposed content because it is not absolutely close to the solution to South Sudan problem. On the contrary, the negotiation being spurred by IGAD should be structured to deal firstly with the root causes of the problem, synthesize the problem and crystallize solutions to them before embarking on power sharing. In addition, major attention should be laid on whether the current crop of leaders on both side of the divide can reconcile the nation. REMNASA is absolutely clear that in order to overhaul South Sudan technocrats are needed to prepare the country for a democratic society before politicians come in. This is crucial if strong systems that can withstand political intrigues are to be put in place. It is clear the approach suggested by REMNASA may look a long process at this crucial stage but it may be important, necessary and paying to take long and achieve permanent peace where South Sudanese can co-exist harmoniously than to hurry to produce a quarter baked and none sustainable peace.
To reach REMNASA Leader firstname.lastname@example.org