The Rocky Coalition of the Unwilling

By Deng Vanang,

Opposition leaders, President Salva Kiir Mayardit greets his long term rival First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny at a close watch of a disappointed 2nd Vice President, James Wani Igga(Photo: supplied)

Opposition leaders, President Salva Kiir Mayardit greets his long term rival First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny at a close watch of a disappointed 2nd Vice President, James Wani Igga(Photo: supplied)

May 10, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— As the peace partners dug deep into trenches against one another with each side refusing to cede ground lest it is wrestled down by the opponent, the previous glimmer of hope for peace in the war torn country is rather growing dimmer and dimmer in each passing day.

Outstanding flash points in the agreement dividing the coalition partners down the middle to reach an amicable solution are numerous and clear cut.

Tackling them one by one prompts the author to analyze each side’s strengths, weaknesses and overall Ashlie heels that serve to threaten the survival of peace agreement.

These contentious points are unilateral appointment of 10 Presidential advisors and declared ethnic- based 28 states by President Kiir in clear contravention of the signed peace accord.

Others are security arrangements that have failed to produce the formation of joint police force in Juba and other three greater upper Nile states’ capitals of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei.

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SPLM/A-IG’s continuous bombardment of SPLM/A-IO’s designated cantonment areas in Greater Bhar el Ghazal and Equatoria is even more thornier. The two security bottlenecks make Kiir still remain in charge of the security in Juba enough to intimidate the opponents against blocking his anti-reforms agenda.

As well as the eagerly awaited civil service structural reforms as yet another minefield to walk or threaten to explode the already formed and fragile Transitional Government of National Unity, TGONU.

Why this is thornier is because the SPLM/A-IO as per an agreement would want the civil servants who left positions vacant during the war reinstated back but already filled up by Kiir’s supporters.

Another issue is the reform itself which requires to shed off incompetent work force as well as create both regional and ethnic balance in the civil service department which will be read by Kiir’s wing in the government as targeting its people.

Whichever way each contentious issue is tackled shall either strengthen or weaken the position of one group visa vis the opponent’s.

As for Kiir who assured his supporters of red lines, should there be any retreat from them can injure his self-esteem and reputation as man of his words with subsequent loss of supporters’ confidence in him.

Or if his 28 states are altered, that will likely take Padang Dinka of Rweng and Eastern Nile states back to their former Nuer rulers whom they both hate and fear, given the effects of the ongoing civil war atrocities.

Also their resources from which Dinka Bhar el Ghazal states to benefit could be no more as the reason why Kiir curbed out these lucrative areas from the Nuer and Cololands in the first place.

Donors won’t release the pledged funds, could he have his way with resultant return of the country to simmering economic collapse with subsequent insecurity and imminent threat to the country relapsing to civil war more dangerous than it was previously.

And as for Machar on the other, accepting to renegotiate with Kiir on contentious issues means many discomforting things for him. One, Kiir will succeed to lure and scandalize him into being part of the peace agreement violations.

Another is allowing Kiir to open Pandora box for more serious violations to be negotiated and more than enough to either politically suffocate or poison him {Machar} altogether.

It will also mean he succumbs to Kiir’ earlier stated reservations who is now sending a clear message to his supporters that his wings are far from being clipped off as the President who is still fully in charge to dictate terms despite the agreement that says the otherwise.

Those cited reservations are his strengths in the agreement while they are Kiir’s weaknesses. By Kiir turning them into his strengths, then they will not only be Machar’s weaknesses, but also divide his supporters in the communities whose pieces of land have been taken away by some of the newly created 28 states.

Especially in Cololand, Nuerland and Raga which has been annexed to Lol whose people – Dinka – don’t have any biological affinity with Bantus of the former. That is beside Kiir’s success in hijacking federal agenda from him for the former to use as his political magic wand in the next elections in 2018.

A coterie of Machar’s East African and western allies could be disappointed by his failure to heed their concerns and warnings which they have tied to the release of the pledged donors’ multi-billion post – war construction funds in United States Dollars.

For both Kiir and Machar, in light of the above speculated setbacks, there are vultures perching on the trees in expectation to benefit from their possible fallout. Each side of the divide has its own separate group of vultures to exploit its failure while some of which they both share.

Any Kiir’s show of weakness in the implementation of the agreement will attract radicals in the likes of General Paul Malong Awan and Michael Makuei Lueth alongside Jieng Council of elders to talk of an alternative to him to their Dinka constituency.

The same applies to Machar in case of Peter Gatdet Yak and Gabriel Changson Chang who repeatedly say the peace agreement has not addressed the Nuer major political grievances as the reason why they still hold out.

The duo can be joined by Johnson Olony should Machar approve 28 states or at least negotiate away some of the Cololands, particularly the West bank of the Nile including state capital Malakal, that form part of new eastern Nile state.

Vultures of renewed conflict both sides still share are the P’agan Amum’s faction, though is partner in peace and TGONU. In the event of fallout between two sides can not only pullout its troops but also similarly renews its old claim that TGONU with Kiir and Machar still high up in the pinnacles can’t make a success and therefore, the need for them to be thrusted in as the viable alternative.

Much as the international community can pluck off the case of United Nations’ trusteeship where it shelved it and impose it to take over the country for specified period of time which will make it extra-ordinarily too long for the two rival leaders to return to the political scene.

Above all, whichever side gains a commanding political foothold from the other on the renegotiated contentious issues, has its favorable knock on effects to the post-transitional period which will likely culminate in its winning of the next general elections in 2018.

Solution to avoid the likely impasse that can lead to relapse to even more destructive civil war with each side driven out of power and to relaunch a military come back that will keep the country in the unnecessary cycle of civil strife, is for both sides to commit to implementing the agreement with all its pros and cons than opening it up for renegotiations.

Whichever side is defeated in 2018 elections will be respected official opposition to prepare for the next chance in a peaceful and developing country.

Deng Vanang is a political scientist, journalist and author. Reachable at:dvanang@gmail.com

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2 comments

  • GatNor

    If Kiir dragged the country into this brutal civil war to avoid general election and to weakened Jaang’s percieved major threat(Nuers) to Jaang’s grip on power; then who is to trust that he wont do it again. So far its a strategy that has nicely worked for him. It has kept him from going through the trouble of having to lose any election and he is now the acting co-chair of the TGONU.

  • Patrick Tabani

    The author of the article is a pessimist.South Sudan needs both President Salva Kirr and Vice President Machar for peaceful co-existence of each other.None of them will RULE if they harbour secret ideology of ethnic cleansing.Having stayed in Uganda during AMIN era and OBOTE era,i think Salva Kirr and Riak Machar can swallow their PRIDE compared to AMIN R.I.Pand OBOTE R.I.P