Opinion: Missing the dateline is a depressant

By Proff. Peter Adwok Nyaba

South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardiit (L) shakes hands with SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon during peace celebrations at Dr. John Garang deMabior Mosoleum in Juba (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

South Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardiit (L) shakes hands with SPLM-IO leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon during peace celebrations at Dr. John Garang deMabior Mosoleum in Juba (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

April 22nd 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – The SPLM in Opposition has declared its opposition to the 12 May, 2019 dateline for the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity (R-TGONU) citing many reasons, some of them hilarious.

As a former member who is conversant with the inner workings of the SPLM -IO, I would say, as you got soaked so must you swim. Missing the 12 May dateline will be a depressant for many people, and we’ll be witnessing many die of shock because of shattered hopes.

Politics, especially opposition politics and armed opposition for that matter, is an intricate amalgam of ideology, objectives, organization, strategies, tactics, trickery, double-talking, bad-footing and alliances built up consciously to achieve power and use it to transform socially socioeconomically and culturally.

South Sudan and its people are in this situation of perpetual uncertainty due to complacency of the armed opposition and the intransigence of the government. The SPLM-IO leaders have no reason to cry foul.

The grand rule in politics is if you don’t think and act strategically you must be prepared to perpetually lick your wounds. The initial mistake Dr. Riek Machar committed was to accept IGAD mediation and join the peace talks before defining his political objectives, the events in Christmas week 2013 notwithstanding.

Defining one’s strategic political objective helps in setting strategies and tactics, and to organize one’s forces as the best option for one to achieve objective through negotiations. It has been six years since the eruption of violence in 2013 and many factors including the triggers of the conflict have changed, indeed many people have even forgotten what was the war about.

The SPLM-IO leaders and any other opposition harbouring the idea of postponing the formation of R-TGONU will be falling into the trap laid by those in government who opposed to the R-ARCISS.

These self-serving politicians want nothing but the perpetuation of the current context because it serves their economic interests. The cessation of hostilities agreement was sealed in December 2017 and up to this moment there are still violations. What, if I may ask, will transpire in the next six months proposed by Dr. Riek Machar that will magically transform this situation?

Agreements are political compromises; and compromises mean that certain critical factors have to be ignored or overlooked in order to reach the compromise. Invariably, it is always not possible to create conditions for their implementation. We had to make do with what was possible in the implementation of CPA to the effect that some provisions were not implemented; yet South Sudan became independent.

I believe there are issues Dr. Riek Machar and the opposition leaders could achieve in secret and silent diplomacy with President Salva Kiir. The spiritual retreat, in my opinion, was a missed opportunity, which Dr. Riek Machar could have used NOT to extend the dateline, but to speed up the process and agree on critical areas the R-TGONU would address immediately; areas that are likely to impede economic recovery of South Sudan like the number of states and others.

Most important and critical matters are negotiated in secret and silent diplomacy among leaders. Unfortunately, it’s because many of our leaders think loudly only to satisfy their followers’ sentiments that they don’t engage in silent diplomacy to thrash out sensitive national issues.

I would advise the opposition against extending the dateline for the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity.

The author, Peter Adwok Nyaba, is a former Minister of Higer Education in South Sudan.


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