Analyses Contributor's South Sudan

ANALYSIS: You Can Kill Peace Through Peace


Nov 4th, 2018(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan, formerly known as the Southern Sudan before the split in 2011, has been in a vicious civil war for nearly a century. Before Sudan gained her independence on January 1, 1956 from the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, a condominium of the United Kingdom and Egypt in the eastern Sudan region that ruled Sudan between 1899 and 1956, Southern Sudan had started qualmishing about the union of the two Sudans. In 1947 Southern Sudan politicians and university students publicly started demanding federal systems, which would have peacefully transitioned into full autonomy or independence for the Southern region; however, their grievances were largely ignored by the Anglo-Egyptian and the dominant pre-transitional Al -Azhari government and this led to violent uprising that consolidated into the Anyanya Rebellion, popularly known as the First Sudanese Civil War, in 1955. For the past 63 years, South Sudanese have known more war than peace but the paradox is that South Sudanese politicians often adopt temporary peace to kill what would have been a genuine peace. On the other hand, the conundrum of signing  peace to kill peace is always overlooked during peace mediation and arbitration, and as a result the transitional periods hardly built confidence to restore peace and reconcile the warring politicians and communities to live in harmony and prosperity. Instead the temporary absence of war, which comes once in a blue moon, has always been exploited to breed new war strategies, build new local and foreign alliances, equip and militarize ethnic frontiers in readiness to fight another war.

The First and Second Sudan Civil War, 1955 – 2005!

The First Sudan Civil War or Anya One ran for seventeen years between 1955 to 1972. In 1972 the Sudanese Government Delegation led by Abel Alier Wal Kuai, the then Vice President and Minister of State for Southern Affairs,  signed the famous Addis Ababa Peace Agreement with the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM), an Anyanya delegation led by Ezboni Mondiri Gwanza, under the intermediation of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and World Council of Churches (WCC). The 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Agreement was not the first peace initiative between the Khartoum based governments and the Anyanya; however, it was the first agreement that gave a degree of autonomy to establish the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region and amended the constitution.

Notwithstanding the fact that giving autonomy to the Southern Regions was not in the best interest of the majority, and especially to the Sudanese of Arab descent, the government delegation that negotiated the Addis Ababa peace accord comprised of many technocrats such as Abel Alier, Dr. Mansour Khalid, the then Minister for foreign Affairs, Dr. Gaafar Mohammed Ali Bakheit, Minister for Local Government, Major-General Mohammed Al Baghir Ahmed, Minister of Interior, Abel Rahman Abdalla, Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reform, and Brigadier Mirghani Suleiman and Colonel Kamal Abashar representing the armed forces; however, President Gaafar Nimeiry and his administration had to compromise to draft Organic Law to organize Regional Self-Government in the Southern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Sudan and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Sudan. According to the text of the agreement this was to be done in realization of the memorable May Revolution Declaration of June 9, 1969 that would grant the Southern Provinces of the Sudan Regional Self-Government within a united socialist Sudan, and in accordance with the principle of the May Revolution but on the contrary the main objective for president Nimeiry was for him to buy time to establish himself in a leadership position that he grabbed through a military coup and for which he faced imminent threats of a possible military coup either from within his inner circle or from forces allied to the Anyanya.

The 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement was well sugarcoated to resolve the problems of South Sudan main of which were to give Autonomy to the Southern regions to end marginalization of the South Sudanese and to allow the Southern region to use English language as the principle language without prejudice to the use of any language or languages that the South Sudanese and their administrations would deem necessary to discharge of executive and administrative functions of the Region. In addition, the 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Accord had more superior security arrangements and structures than the 2015 and 2018 Agreement of Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan and its revised version, the R-ARCISS, and these together cleansed the image of President Gaafar Nimeiry and made him very famous within the country and also in the region; Unfortunately, the South Sudanese themselves scrambled over positions and this weakened the provisions of the Addis Ababa Peace accord. The conflict of interests among the Southern Sudan politicians gave president Nimeiry a chance to override the peace agreement. In 1983 Nimeiry declared all Sudan as an Islamic state under the Shari’a law and went on to abolish the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region on 5th June, 1983 – a declaration of another war. The eleven years between 1972 and 1983 were not well utilized, mostly by the South Sudanese politicians, to build peace but rather to kill the temporary peace that existed.  So a new war broke out on May 16, 1983!

The SPLM/A War, 1983 – 2005,

Founders of the SPLM/A, L-R, Captain(Cdr.) Elijah Hon Top[far left] and Major(Cdr). William Nyuon Bany of 105 & 105 Batalion, who rebelled in Ayod town, on June 6th, 1983 met with Col. (Cdr) Dr. John Garang De Mabior, Maj. (Cdr) Kerbino Kuanyin Bol of Jamus Batalion. who rebelled in Bor town on May 16th, 1983 and Capt ( Cdr) Salva Kiir Mayardit, somewhere in Jonglei State, 1983(Photo credit: SPLM/A Library/supplied/Nyamilepedia)
Founders of the SPLM/A, L-R, Captain(Cdr.) Elijah Hon Top[far left] and Major(Cdr). William Nyuon Bany of 105 & 105 Batalion, who rebelled in Ayod town, on June 6th, 1983 met with Col. (Cdr) Dr. John Garang De Mabior, Maj. (Cdr) Kerbino Kuanyin Bol of Jamus Batalion, who rebelled in Bor town on May 16th, 1983 and Capt ( Cdr) Salva Kiir Mayardit, somewhere in Jonglei State, 1983(Photo credit: SPLM/A Library/supplied/Nyamilepedia)

In 1983 the Southern Sudanese launched a scorched-earth guerilla revolution under the umbrella of the Sudan People Liberation Movement/ Army (The SPLM/A). By default, the SPLM/A was a continuation of the Anyanya Two and the sole objective of the Second Sudanese Civil War, as it became known, would have been to continue to fight President Gaafar Nimeiry to grant South Sudan the Right of Self Determination; however, the conflict of interests that killed the Addis Ababa peace agreement resurfaced among the founders of the SPLM/A with one group under the leadership of Dr. John Garang de Mabior calling for Unity of the two Sudans and another group under the leadership of Akuot Atem and Col. Samuel Gai Tut of Anyanya two calling for the Right of Self Determination. With Dr. John Garang declaring the “First Bullet against the Separatists”, the South Sudanese turned their guns on themselves and first killed one another for years  instead of uniting under one objective to fight their common rival in Khartoum.

With military supply from the Ethiopian government, under the then leadership of Mengistu Haile Mariam, the leaders of the Separatists group were outpowered and killed two years later but the SPLM/A went on to commit many atrocities starting with Gajaak-Nuer massacres in 1985 and continued to terrorize the people its ought to liberate and protect in what is now South Sudan. Many splits including the famous 1991 Nasir Declaration and subsequence massacres in Jonglei State and elsewhere complicated the SPLM/A struggle, and thus the Liberation of the South that should have taken 3 to 5 years ended up taking over 21 years and killed over 2 millions people. By All definition, there was no justification whatsoever that the Liberation of South Sudan would have taken the SPLM/A 21 years especially after the 1972 peace agreement amended the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Sudan, administered the use of the Sheri’a laws and granted a degree of autonomy to the Southern Region; however, the SPLM/A leadership did not know what exactly it wanted to achieve, and this is one of the reasons the SPLM/A elites still do not know how to govern the Republic of South Sudan today. All these infighting killed relative peace and social fabrices that existed among the South Sudanese communities and none of the numerous peace and permanent ceasefire agreements achieved what it ought to achieve except the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA) that was signed in 2005 and coincidentally midwifed the Birth of the Republic of  South Sudan as opposed to delivering the Secular Democratic Republic of Sudan that the SPLM/A fought for since its inception.

During And After The CPA

Sudan's Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang laugh before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Kenya's capital Nairobi, January 9, 2005. (Courtesy REUTERS/Antony Njuguna)
Sudan’s Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement leader John Garang laugh before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, January 9, 2005. (Courtesy REUTERS/Antony Njuguna)

On January 5th, 2005 the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, under the leadership of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, and the Government of Sudan, represented by a government delegation led by H.E. Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, the First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan, signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA), also known as the Naivasha Agreement; unfortunately, three weeks later Dr. John Garang de Mabior died in a plane crash on his way from Entebbe-Uganda to New Site, South Sudan.  Not to mention that the SPLM/A was already in leadership crises with senior military leaders like Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit threatening to defect and dismantle the SPLM/A, and senior military generals like 1st Lt. Gen. Matip Nhial and other high ranking South Sudanese generals, who were allied to Khartoum government, refusing to join or be reintegrated into the SPLM/A, the SPLM/A figured out that only their dummy hierarchy would save them from further infighting as this would have paralyzed the CPA. To keep their house together the SPLM/A had to allow General Salva Kiir, who had no political experience and training, to automatically succeed Dr. John Garang de Mabior. This was inline with the Comprehensive Peace accord. According to article, if the Position of the First Vice President  falls vacant prior to elections, it says “the office of the First Vice President shall be filled by the nominee of the SPLM within two(2) weeks”.

Whether by default or by design, Gen. Salva  was desperately waiting not only to replace Dr. John Garang de Mabior but mostly importantly to dismantle his inner circle or close aid, also known as “the Garang Boys”:

“There are people among us who are more dangerous than the enemy. I must warn the Chairman that Nimeiri was made to be unpopular by his security organs. Those who are misleading you and giving you false security information about others will suffer with you together or leave with you.” Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit warns Dr. John Garang during the Rumbek meeting in 2004.

By 2008, while the SPLM was preparing its leadership to participate in 2010 elections, it became apparently clear that Gen. Kiir had no intention whatsoever to relinquish the seat through party preliminary elections and this rendered the 2008 SPLM National Convention of the Liberation Council  useless. President Kiir went on to frustrate both late Dr. Garang’s Camp and his main rival Dr. Riek Machar while forming alliances with NCP members, Uganda and Islamic community who slowly encroach the Republic of South Sudan. By 2010, President Kiir’s new SPLM/A was fighting his own South Sudanese in more than 4 states: Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity State, Northern Bhar el Ghazal and Western Equatoria region.

Although many patriotic South Sudanese, and especially the senior SPLM elites who had interest to run for the SPLM Chairmanship, tamed their egos and kept calm to maintain peace, Gen. Salva misconstrued their patriotism for a weakness. Instead Kiir used the CPA transitional period to arm himself in the name of arming South Sudan to fight Khartoum when it was crystal clear that Kiir was arming himself to dismantle the SPLM and SPLA. Counting on South Sudanese euphoria for independence, which Kiir misconstrued for his own popularity, the former rebel chief turned president began his dictatorial tendencies to frustrate his opponents even further.  By July 2013, president Kiir did not only dissolved the cabinet and dismissed his Vice President, he also dismissed many military generals who were mostly allied to Machar and Garang Boys. By the time the conflict broke out in December 2013, Kiir did not only dismantled the SPLM, he also trained his new army, the Mathiang Anyor, to replace the SPLA as South Sudan army. With direct military support from Uganda, Kiir managed to oust SPLA and replaced it with his newly trained Mathiang Anyor, which he is now reforming to South Sudan People Defense Forces. In sum, instead of utilizing the CPA transitional period and the euphoria for the birth of a new country to consolidate peace and reconcile former rivals and communities, President Kiir and his NCP allies used the peace window to arm themselves to kill what would have been a lasting peace in the Republic of South Sudan.

The Transitional Period of the 2015 Peace Agreement, ARCiSS.

South Sudan warring leaders, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Salva Kiir Mayardit helped to pray by the Faith Based Group during the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa. Although a peace deal was eventually signed, it has not been implemented(Photo: file)
South Sudan warring leaders, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Salva Kiir Mayardit helped to pray by the Faith Based Group during the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa. Although a peace deal was eventually signed, it has not been implemented(Photo: file)

Before and after the signing of the Agreement of Resolutions of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan in August 2015 both the SPLA in Government and the SPLA in Opposition were re-organizing and preparing for a military showdown as opposed to preparing for peace. According to the Security Arrangement of the ARCiSS, Salva Kiir government should have pulled its troops out of Juba to a distant of not less than 25 kilometers away from the capital city, and if Salva Kiir administration was ready to implement the peace agreement in letter and spirit, the troops that were pulled out of Juba should have been cantonned in none-war prone areas. Contrary, the government brought its war-hardened troops from the frontlines to Juba and pulled out some troops from Juba and redeployed them to more strategic areas like along the highways and possible routes that would have been used by Machar and his troops in case if they escape the war in Juba. This deployment was done with military strategy to encircle  the capital, Juba. Many checkpoints and roadblocks were created instead of reducing the numerous checkpoints that already existed and this hindered humanitarian access and general transport.

On the other hand and to the advantage of Salva Kiir regime, leaders of the armed Opposition started scrambling over oppositions with Gen. Taban Deng Gai, the then Chief Negotiator of the SPLM/A and the leader of the advance delegation to Juba, and his close ally Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the former secretary for foreign affairs of the SPLM-in opposition, conspiring behind closed doors to assassinate Dr. Riek Machar and his leadership with military support from Kiir’s government in exchange for the Position of the First Vice President for Gen. Taban and Ministry of Petroleum for Lol Gatkuoth. Using his powers as the leader of the SPLM/A(IO) advance delegation to Juba, Taban managed to lure the entire SPLM/A(IO) leadership into the heavily militarized capital, Juba, with less forces than agreed in the peace agreement. In addition to their smaller number, 1370 as compared to over 30, 000 government troops in Juba alone, the SPLA(IO) were lightly armed with AK47 and a limited number of ammunitions. It was obvious that the SPLA(IO) would be outnumbered and outgunned in an event of war in Juba and to make the matter even worst, the SPLA(IO) would have no military supply or reinforcement in the Equatoria region but the regime continued to sophisticate its war frontiers to ensure that their military victory would be clean and painless.

On the Dark-Day, July 8th, 2016, Dr. Riek Machar accepted to meet President Kiir at his tightly guarded Presidential Palace, J1. Machar traveled to J1 with his lightly armed convoy against precautionary measures from his senior leadership who called on him to postpone or turn down the meeting on the ground that tensions were still high and J1 was not secured for their meeting. At this time tensions were skyrocketing almost everywhere in the country but Juba became the center of attention as rival forces were already on a stand off after both sides buried their dead, slain by the opponents. On July 6th, 2016, members of the SPLA(IO) exchanged minimal fire with Kiir forces at a checkpoint in Gudele suburb after they were stopped and felt harassed. This confrontation left at least 5 government soldiers dead and two others injured, one on each side. The July 6th assault was considered to be an organized continuation of July 3rd on which a soldier loyal to Machar, Lt.Colonel George Gismala, was killed by government security personnel in an attack that was unprovoked and never justified.

The July 8th J1 fighting ignited the Second South Sudan Civil war that went on for another two years. Between July 8th 2016 and Sept 2018, more than 2 millions people were displaced from their homes, especially from the Equatorian Region, Western Bhar el Ghazal and parts of Upper Nile that were relatively calm, to the UN protection sites within the country and refugees’ camps in the neighboring countries. Many others were displaced to the bush and swampy areas that are not accessible to the government troops. The second civil war brought the total death toll close to 400, 000 and escalated rebellion to more regions and corridors that were relatively peaceful before the parties signed the peace agreement in August 2015.  Looking at the statistics, one would conclude that the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) brought more suffering, death and destruction to the world’s youngest nation – leaving the war-torn country much worse off as opposed to the goodwill dividends the peace agreement aims to achieve.

Will This Transitional Period Restore Permanent Peace and Tranquility?

Kiir greets Machar and they meets in Addis Ababa for the first time since 2016 (File photo)
Kiir greets Machar and they meets in Addis Ababa for the first time since 2016 (File photo)

After 5 years of a brutal conflict, South Sudanese of all ages and backgrounds have had enough of war and all they wish for moving forward is nothing but permanent peace and tranquility, and with the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolutions of the Conflict in South Sudan(R-ARCiSS) on September 12th in Addis Ababab, Ethiopia, 2018 many South Sudanese have revived hopes and confidence for peace but whether this peace will last or not begs many questions. According to observers and historians, who have analysed the past and current conflicts in South(ern) Sudan, signing of a peace document, any document, for South Sudanese politicians is a no-brainer. South Sudanese do not hesitate to sign documents, they hesitate to implement the content of what they have signed and so far the signatories, especially the main peace partner who is President Salva Kiir, is showing very weird syndrome.

The Weird Syndrome;

Although president Salva Kiir had complained numerous times in the past that he couldn’t implement the peace agreement alone,  a blame game syndrome that he discharged to insinuate that his rival peace partner, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, must show greater commitment and cooperation, this time the Revitalized peace agreement has been designed to be a one-man peace agreement. The main difference between the current peace agreement, the R-ARCiSS, and its predecessor (the ARCISS) is that the latest has pruned out anything that would irritates president Kiir’s supreme authority such as two armies, federalism, reforms, reparations, rehabilitation and compensations for the victims. In addition, contentious issues that were intentionally created by President Kiir to derail implementation of the previous peace agreement such as the controversial 32 states have been left to be decided through a process in which President and in his inner circle will have an upper-hand to manipulate the end-results to their advantage. Despite all the appeasements and cooperation from the leaders of the oppositions, the son of Mayar is not showing enough flexibility to implement the peace agreement in letter and spirit. Instead President Kiir seems to be glued to his traditional “Konkoc” as the alternative paradigm to implement the peace agreement.

According to the text of the peace agreement, President Kiir, like his peace partners, should have ordered release of all political detainees and prisoners of war, uplift the state of emergency, ordered opening of humanitarian corridors, ordered disengagement and separation of his forces in close proximity especially those in Yei River State, Western Bhar el Ghazal and parts of Unity States, ensured that all his forces and allied militias observe provisions of the 21st December 2017 CoHA(stop attacking rival forces), ordered demilitarization of civilian centres, nominated the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission and forward to the TNLA for approval. In total, President Salva Kiir, his peace partners in the oppositions, JMEC and guarantors should have implemented at least 52 articles of the peace agreement by now but the main peace partner seems to be so relaxed and implementing the peace agreement at his own phase. Even worst, instead of implementing the articles of the peace agreement as signed, President Kiir is also implementing his own peace agreement on the sideline. Within the last two months Kiir has renamed the army to South Sudan People Defense Forces in violation of the peace agreement and went on to organize a historic Peace Celebration at his own comfort . Although the opposition found its weird to attend the celebration in Juba when their forces were being constantly attacked a few kilometers away somewhere in Central Equatoria, Western Bhar el Ghazal or in Unity State, they found themselves obligated to show commitment and cooperation, and therefore they attended the unnecessary peace celebration in Juba. Nevertheless, the SPLM/A(IO) and other oppositions are currently considering how to implement President Kiir’s National Dialogue, a process that was initiated by President Kiir to sideline the August 2015 Peace Agreement.

President Kiir being awarded 7 medals by his military generals in a mini ceremony that has invited the Chinese and other friendly foreign nations(Photo credit: supplied)
President Kiir being awarded 7 medals by his military generals in a mini ceremony that has invited the Chinese and other friendly foreign nations(Photo credit: supplied)

In addition to none-progressive text-to-text implementation of the R-ARCiSS, President Kiir has not stopped attacking or blaming his main rival, Dr. Riek Machar, and other opposition leaders. In his latest interview with Kenyan journalist Jeff Koinange, in response to Gen. Paul Malong’s recent interview, president Kiir used his opportunity to attack Dr. Machar landing a few bruises such as Riek ran away from his own shadow from Juba all the way to Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) and that Dr. Riek Machar had no better option apart from signing this peace agreement. The later confirms speculations that President Kiir was awarded 7 medals on October 18th, 2018 by his army generals in recognition for his military victory. According to Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk, the Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, president Kiir was awarded 7 medals because he has shown fortitude, loyalty to the cause and SPLM/A revolution; however, given the timing of the award, common citizens view the award as a reward for a military victory in the current civil war. All these put together show that the South Sudanese peace is not yet peace until it is successfully implemented.


By all measures, the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan gives President Salva Kiir both the military and political powers to rule the country indefinitely. Kiir is not a political guru, however, if he chooses to implement the peace agreement and outwit his opponents through political means and his kangaroo establishments, he now has the capacity to do so as long as he adheres to his “konkoc” until his opponents fall into his palm, one after another. If he chooses this political option, South Sudan might get some relative peace under a tyrannical leadership that South Sudanese might have to get over it and live by like the Congolese, Zimbabwean and the Libyans. Alternatively, if Kiir becomes impatience and poorly manages this transition again, a third civil war might become inevitable but unlike the first and second South Sudanese civil war, the third civil war would most likely be led by different leaders and mostly by young officers and intellectuals. How long and effective the third civil war could last, in case Kiir remains intransigent, would be determined by whether the peace guarantors and other IGAD member states would intervene or not; however, the two options gives Salva Kiir a chance to linger around in the Republican Palace.

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