Opinion: Violation of peace agreement is in President Salva Kiir’s DNA

By Benny Gudo, Harare. 

Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan, speaks during the 66th annual United Nations General Assembly at the UN in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. Kiir said that his nation, the world's newest, will use its oil reserves to create an "agro-industrial powerhouse" in Africa. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Salva Kiir, president of South Sudan, speaks during the 66th annual United Nations General Assembly at the UN in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. Kiir said that his nation, the world’s newest, will use its oil reserves to create an “agro-industrial powerhouse” in Africa. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oct 19, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — Many don’t know who Salva Kiir Mayardit is and what’s aiming to achieve in South Sudan since the day he was installed President and chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (Army) SPLM, a former guerilla militia group which fought for South Sudan independence from the Northerners dominated by Muslims. Mayardit replaced former chairman Dr John Garang, the man who engineered unity amongst tribes of his country. A couple of months after Sudan cremation, the newly formed South Sudan, under Mayardit, was driven into intense civil war which started as a misunderstanding between him and the first VP Dr Riek Machar but then culminated in an all-out war. Since 2012, sporadic violence, ambushes, and ethnic genocide dragged South Sudan to disunity with Salva Kiir at the core of this conflict. As President, however, he is to play a pivotal role in national cohesion, peace building but he is doing the opposite. 

During the 2013 peace accord President Kiir collapsed the unity government by cooking a false coup allegation against his first VP..after an attempt to assassinate Dr Machar was foiled at J1. Hundreds of dead bodies were all over Juba, mostly Dr Machar bodyguards and civilians caught in the crossfire. Machar counted heavy losses that took away the life of his son and very close lieutenants with whom his personal security was guaranteed. The funny part of it was the silence of IGAD countries, AU and UN in dealing with President Kiir.  At last, the agreement collapsed. 

After months of fierce fighting IGAD countries led by former Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir brokered another peace accord which is now in force, to  silencing guns and rejuvenating peace and economic growth and development in order to get back normalcy in the fragile new nation.  But a couple of weeks ago, the warring sides were back in confrontation. SSPDF moving towards SPLM IO bases and areas the rebel group controls. In Koji-Keji, dozens of SSPDF were slaughtered  during an attack at a training camp full of SPLM IO fighters. A former SPLM IO General in collaboration with SSPDF ignited the attacks.

In Jonglei state, the situation remains volatile due to communal violence chiefly blamed on tribal differences which have roots on President Kiir and his Jieng council. With hundreds of innocent civilians dying everyday President Kiir is doing nothing to stop violence and tribal crashes destabilizing peace in his country. Why is he unable to fight?

A myriad of factors compel President Kiir to act that way. First of all, he wants to remain President of South Sudan forever. For more than a decade now in power President Kiir hates critics. Anyone whose conviction differs with him is regarded as an enemy of the state. That person can be charged with treason, a death sentence in terms of the law of South Sudan. Since he assumed leadership a number of prominent opposition figures in particular FVP Dr Machar were charged with the same offence. 

A pattern of arbitrary arrests, abductions, summary executions and extra judicial killings on all those that oppose him is the order of day. Freedom of speech, justice and social liberties have been suppressed. To date, there is no internal democracy in the mainstream SPLM because President Kiir doesn’t like divergent views. He likes bootlickers and yes-men with whom dances alike. 

Will such governance style continue unabated? South Sudanese need a better life, a new normal full of democratisation and constitutionalism. As of now, the entire country is in drain as a result of deep rooted corruption plummeting its economy where civil servants are earning salaries between  US$20 and $40 in the wake of enough natural resources such as gold and oil.

Where is the money going? In the last few days President Kiir reshuffled key ministerial portfolios such as the revenue authority and the Reserve bank governor. Will it help heal the wounds which paralyzed the whole economy? If he never changed the style and the systems he enacted the new governor, a foreigner for that matter, won’t transform anything. If the levers of state power remain in the hands of one person, looters will continue to plunder the national resources for as long as they maintain good blood with President Kiir. A recent survey by an American thinktank exposed prominent security chefs and top government officials, connected to President Kiir, embezzling oil and gold revenues funds. In the face of overwhelming evidence President Kiir is reluctant to adhering to principles of good corporate governance which fosters accountability and transparency on all public funds. 

The laws are applied selectively- it’s only rebel chiefs, civil society leaders and other government critics who face the full wrought of the law whereas President Kiir’ s relatives and friends are left out, why? How will the nation restore public confidence where there’s no justice, accountability and rule of law. 

Defections 

Can the FVP Dr Machar trust President Kiir? In any case, no one can trust conspirators  – President Kiir is busy plotting to decimate the SPLM IO movement before the expiry of the unity government.  He is not leaving anything to chance. By doing so, the President is not violating the peace agreement only but public confidence has been eroded. Because those defecting generals of SPLM IO are being used to fight back former Cdes. 

Again a couple of days ago sporadic violence and riots erupted in the Unity State where unemployed  youths took to the streets demanding  quality healthcare, clean water and jobs for the locals from oil companies mining in their oilfields.  Instead of addressing those concerns the government unleashed spiteful security apparatus to make arrests on dozens of unarmed protesters. 

Are those concerns genuine or not. Since the war started life in South Sudan became unbearable for many as the economy veered towards the brink where prices of basic commodities skyrocketed under exorbitant inflation rates which lowered the local currency. Daily commodities vanished from the formal sector as traders opt for dollars.  In the face of the government’s carrot and stick approach, some traders are pulling out and in doing so basic commodities scarcity surges. Even the government’s plan for currency substitution won’t subsidize its comatose economy because the real factors/ drivers of inflation still remain.

So we wonder why the President is adamant on confronting real issues of the day in an effort to save his nation. In power for more than  a decade now President Kiir is still pushing on for becoming the champion of democracy and rule of law which he hates. How will he win the game without mass support? Victory under duress is just a somersault the incumbent is selling but the ground portrays the difference.  

Juba University protests is another reality check that a remedy is far from being found because authorities express too much ignorance than tolerance. We are told a student was shot dead by a member of NSS masquerading as one of them probably the assailant is stationed there for intimidation purposes. How bad is it to the society and the entire environment of students.  Juba University was not meant for South Sudan solely but it’s an institution for learners internationally which is apportioned in the global fraternity in the likes of Oxford, Havard, Fort Hare, and so forth. Therefore any effort that seeks to militalize the institution jettisons its objective. This thus smasks it’s common sense, purpose  and logic. By placing the integrity of this university in scrutiny following the murder of a student protester President Kiir is soiling the national image, that of the university and his own.

Respect of rights to life is everyone’s prerogative which those in power shouldn’t violate but President Kiir chose to. However grievances always arise in any given society and environment  even in circumstances of death threats, if the students at Juba University have issues the incumbent must pay attention rather than killing anyone of them. What image does the incumbent represent  in the outside world? Barbarism and ruthlessness are attributes of inhumane of which what’s expected of the presidency is statesmanship, servant leadership and caring. A leader who kills his own people is not a leader but a ruler for these two persons are different. President Kiir rules he is not leading because a leader has followers. Whereas the people of South Sudan have been denied the right to select a leader of their choice. Where was Salva Kiir elected President of South Sudan besides being imposed on the people? 

For more information, the author can be reached through email at gudobenny@gmail.com


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