No Deal Is Better Than A Bad Deal!

By Dr Lako Jada Kwajok,

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, greets Dr. Riek Machar of SPLA after negotiating the withdrawal of his troops in South Sudan(Photo: Nyamilepedia)

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, greets Dr. Riek Machar of SPLA after negotiating the withdrawal of his troops in South Sudan(Photo: Nyamilepedia)

July 31, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — I had the opportunity of reading through the Proposed Compromise Agreement On The Resolution Of The Conflict In The Republic Of South Sudan. This document as many of you know is the basis for negotiation to reach a peaceful settlement of the conflict. It has been endorsed unanimously by IGAD – PLUS partners after the consultation that took place in Addis Ababa between 21 to 23 of July 2015. As we know, the peace talks are scheduled to kick off on 05/08/2015 with a deadline by the end of 17/08/2015.

A lot of hope and good wishes have been placed on the coming negotiations by millions of South Sudanese and many other peace loving people to finally bring peace and stability to the war torn young country. President Obama on addressing the African Union ( AU ) in Addis Ababa, stressed that both Kiir and Machar must sign a peace agreement by 17/08/2015. However, when you subject the above document to careful scrutiny, you quickly realise that something is wrong, indeed many things are wrong. And gradually as you continue reading, you come to the conclusion that the document is full of flaws and missing some essential requirements that ensures the establishment of a just and permanent peace.

Firstly, I would like to address the issue of allocation of the presidency during the transition. As stipulated in the aforementioned document, Salva Kiir shall become the transitional president of the Republic of South Sudan for 30 months from the start of the transitional government of national unity ( TGoNU ). This is a nonstarter and indeed a deal breaker from my perspective and I am quite convinced that many South Sudanese share the same view. The reasons are the following :

1. His deeds have blemished his reputation for ever. To millions of South Sudanese, he is a genocidal ruler and a criminal. To others he is just a corrupt and a common thief. Still others consider him among the most tribalistic and divisive figures in South Sudan at the present time. The presidency is not like any other job in the world. That is because it carries a lot in it. There is the national pride, the reputation of the country and it also provides an insight for the outside world about who we are. What is seen in our president could be taken as a reflection of what we actually are as we are the people who allowed him to be on the helm. The president needs to be a person of high integrity, good reputation and to be respectable. This relates to the fact that he serves as a role model for the school children, the youths and our future leaders. This is why children are often named after presidents. Look at president Obama stance, he is a role model for the young and youths not only in his country but all over the world. His presidency has been uplifting to a whole generation of African Americans. Who in his or her right mind would want their son to follow the footsteps of Salva Kiir Myardit ?! Whatever good things he has done in the past, have been trumped or deleted in people’s memories by his heinous crimes.

2. It’s quite inconceivable that the Commission for Truth,Reconciliation and Healing ( CTRH ) would succeed in delivering the goods if Salva Kiir is allowed to preside over the transition. Just consider the following – many Nuer families have lost their love ones during the Juba massacre and some are still grieving from the recent atrocities in Unity State and haven’t reached conclusion to their ordeals. How would they feel when every day they watch the face of the person responsible for their grief on SSTV ?! Will this really be conducive to speeding up the healing process ?! Do not be misled by the Nuer Wews who are  siding with Salva Kiir. They are fanatic food lovers who can kill and unleash carnage for food. They represent a negligible portion of the Nuer people displaying opportunism and political prostitution at its worst.

3. One of the things that would expedite healing is when the criminals are hold accountible for their heinous crimes. There will be a clear conflict of interest if Salva Kiir remains the top authority in the land. He is the top culprit in the atrocities but is it realistic that he would do the unbelievable thing of indicting himself or allow others to indict him ?! It will never happen under his watch, in fact he will try to manipulate, coerce or even dispose of any individual who attempts to uncover the truth.

What is worrying is that there is a phrase in the agreement document that reads (  mass violations of human rights has profound historical roots in our society which pre-date the current conflict ). It sounds like an attempt to water down the gravity of the atrocities or at least draw similarities with what happened in 1991. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a fundamental difference in terms of accountibility between the Juba massacre and what happened in 1991. There was no government or rule of law in the rebel held areas in 1991. What we have here is a government, recognised by many countries of the world and the UN.

This brings on certain obligations and duties most notable are respecting human rights and protecting civilians against atrocities and genocide. It’s clear that our government under Salva Kiir has violated the international law by committing heinous crimes against its own people. In a democratic society with no blind tribal allegiances, he would have been tried for treason because of plunging the country into civil war out of greed to maintain power. The good news is that, Obama mentioned in his address that ” the world awaits the African Union Commission ( AUC ) report because accountability for atrocities must be part of any lasting peace”.

This is music to my ears personally and certainly to the ears of the aggrieved families and millions of peace loving South Sudanese. It is a matter of principles, Salva Kiir and his group of criminals should not be allowed to get away with murder. This is simply because what is the guarantee that it will not happen again in future perhaps to a much smaller tribe. Nuer is a large tribe and losing 20,000 lives my not cause a catastrophic lasting effect. But we do have much smaller tribes some with a total number of less than 20,000 lives. Just imagine what happened to the Nuers has befallen one of these smaller tribes, the entire tribe would have been annihilated. That is why we should not allow the people responsible for these ugly acts to go unpunished otherwise it will set a precedent.

4. Kiir has been in office for nearly 10 years with no tangible achievements in terms of developmental projects, provision of services and improving the lives of the South Sudanese people. In fact the overwhelming majority of the people were much better off 10 years ago than they are now in regard to livelihood, access to health services and availability of schools for their children. In addition to that they were even more secure during the war than they are now. If the above is Salva Kiir’s track record, how much can he possibly do for the South Sudanese people in 30 months that he failed to do in 10 years ?! It will be a miracle if he comes up with something useful for the people of South Sudan. I will bet my bottom pound that it will be more of the same – corruption, tribalism, insecurity and absence of the rule of law.

5. The country needs a fresh start in the transition with a strong personality in the presidential palace. Salva Kiir has been proven weak time and again. He is unfit to lead this country in the transition or any time in future. Who would want the infamous Jieng council of elders to pull the strings from behind the curtains or Museveni running the shaw by remote control ?! And it’s not only Salva Kiir alone as many of his top ministers and the SPLM officials are corrupt and may have blood in their hands in relation to the massacres hence unsuitable to be candidates for the presidency. If people could agree, any one of the governors of the greater Equatoria states could do a better job in the transition than the current illegitimate president.

Even if people fail to agree on a politician why not try members of the clergy. Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro, Archbishop Daniel Deng or Bishop Parade Taban could be made president for the transitional period. There are precedents for that, Archbishop Makarios III was president of Cyprus from 1964 to 1974. In Africa, Bishop Abel Muzorewa was prime minister of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia from June to December 1979. At least he ( the clergyman ) will not be corrupt or lethal to our people and will be an asset in the process of healing. There are those who will say that a clergyman will be weak for the presidency. That is not true plus you already had the weakest president in the history of the world, any one who comes along can only be better. Even the chief of my village could have done a better job.

Secondly, While the document acknowledges that the federal system of governance is a popular demand, yet it does not indicate establishment of the federal system during the transition. It talks about the need for devolution of more power and resources to lower levels of government. The aim is clearly to maintain the status quo and avoid real federalism. The only hope for South Sudan to  remain united is federalism and it should  commence with the beginning of the transitional government of national Unity ( TGoNU ).
Thirdly, The power sharing allocations in the executive body is a very contentious issue. How did the peace mediators arrive to those percentages and on what basis ?! Why should the G10 which has become effectively G6 be given 7% ?! Do they really represent any particular constituency? These guys are made super citizens by the IGAD peace mediators as each one of them represents over 1% of the proposed TGoNU. The G6 will have a say in the TGoNU than entire tribes like Lopit, Lokoro, Murle, NDogo and the Broun of Maban. The government has been allocated full control of greater Equatoria and Bahr Gazal states.Kiir and his government is very unpopular in Greater Equatoria states. He also lacks popularity in western Bahr  El Gazal State due to the oppressive policies and unlawful killing of civilians in  peaceful demonstrations. Even in the other Bahr El Gazal states SPLA/A – IO is gaining momentum. Then how comes the government was given 100% control over those states and on what basis ?! They can not claim that there is no war in those states. We are in a state of total civil war which is getting worse by the day. Despite granting the government full control, the peace mediators seemed to have overlooked the security for the opposition.  I find this very strange and dubious. One of the most important goals of the TGoNU is to prepare the country and set the ground for a fair elections by the end of the transition. This will involve campaigning freely in all parts of the country. Do you think Dr Riak Machar, Dr Lam Akol or Peter Sule would be safe campaigning in Wau, Mundri or Chukdom ? The majority of us know how Dr Riak Machar’s guards were slaughtered in Juba during the massacre. In addition to that how can we be sure that the elections will not be rigged if SPLM officials are left alone to conduct the elections in those states.Therefore to make the ground level for a free elections, the government should not be allowed full control of those states. In fact the percentages are flawed. A more reasonable allocation would be 40%, 40% and 20% for GRSS, SPLA-IO and other parties/civil societies respectively. There is no room for the G10 or G6 as some of them have already joined the government and the rest are on their way either to join the government or SPLM/A-IO.
Fourthly, De-militarisation and Arrangement for the NationalCapital: This is one of the good things within the document but it is only limited to Juba. What about Malakal that has been significantly destroyed and Wau where citizens live in a state of permanent siege. the de-militarisation should be expanded to include all the major towns and most parts of the country. Citizens in towns like Nimule, Yei, Maridi, Mundri would be much happier if de-militarisation is extended to their areas. Indeed in the case of Mundri citizens, they have actually demanded the SPLA unit in the area be relocated due to gross misconduct, unruly behaviour and brutality against citizens. Clearly the SPLA will not be missed in Equatoria due to the fact that it is the problem and not the solution.
Fifthly, The Hybrid Court for South Sudan ( HCSS) :  The document states that the majority of the judges on the panels whether trial or appellate, shall be composed of judges from african states other than the Republic of South Sudan. That means some of the judges would be South Sudanese. This matter is quite a sensitive one and the future of the country depends on fair trials. I don’t thing the african judges let alone the South Sudanese will be up to the task, because they do not live in a democratic environment that would protect them if they go against the rulers. We have seen the case of Pagan Amum when he sued Salva Kiir  before the conflict. A gag order was issued against him and his civil liberties were curtailed. But what happened to his case, no judge or court  was willing to accept the case and in the end the Supreme Court of South Sudan threw it out. The best option would be for the criminals to stand trials at the ICC in Hague.
Finally, there are some time bombs embedded in the body of the agreement document that will cause problems in future. Do you really think people like Peter Gatdet will go along with Paul Malong and be in the same army ?! Integration of the forces will not work and it will be a waste of time and resources on a poorly trained tribal armies. They are undisciplined and lack understanding of  the rules of engagement. The best option is to disband the SPLA and to start building a new professional army that is inclusive to all the ethnicities in South Sudan.
Given the many flaws in the document, my conclusion is that it is far from the work of shrewd politicians. The possibilities are that the document was produced deliberately in that way due to the mediation team conniving with GRSS or it was  a matter of political amateurism or both.

The author, Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, can be reached at loku.jada@hotmail.co.uk

2 comments

  • Dr. Laku Jada Kwajok, you have hinted the point. They dogde the FEDERAL because they want to remain in GREATER EQUATORIA for ever. But we will not allow. We will force federalism on them. Just wait and see.

    • Dr lako Jada Kwajok

      Dear Dingit Na Tuggo,

      Equatorians are usually slow to react because by nature they are peaceful people and they take time to weigh things up. They never indulge in emotional decisions. But once they take a decision they never back off. Federalism is the only option to save the country from falling apart.