Introduction to the root causes of South Sudan conflict, Violations and Ways Forwards

By John Sunday,

South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir and his army chief pray at a local Catholic Church in Juba, South Sudan(Photo: file)
South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir and his army chief pray at a local Catholic Church in Juba, South Sudan(Photo: file)

Sept 12, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– Anything that are real – living or none living, bad or good, has its’ genesis and that is the bona fide cause of its existence, and anything that has an origin, has an end. Some of these reality, you can just pick and throw it away; while others requires to be uprooted and then development of mechanism to prevent from happening again.

South Sudan as a nation not only in problems but it has problems that has taken sharp of politics and therefore, to address these very problems; it must be addressed through political means but from the root causes. The roots are what matters if we have to find solutions to our national problems.

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De facto, we have widely taken into believe the current political crisis is leadership crisis that started with alleged coup plot that happened on the eve of December 15th, 2013 which resulted in assumed massacre of 20,000 Nuer tribesmen by the tribal militia forces of president Salva Kirr in Juba alone.

However, we cannot start to address the current political crisis from there – because the event of December 2013 can still be said as effects, and not the cause of the problems.

The real problems of our nation that become the causes of the current political crisis are SPLM as political party because SPLM policies and practices bear the flag of:-

  1. Tribalism
  2. Military Dictatorial rule which is resulted in bad governance and rule of law
  3. Corruptions, and
  4. Lack of social services

These problems mentioned above are the major causes of contemporary national political crisis, and are manufactured by the SPLM-IG policies and practices which are now not only affecting ordinary citizens but also some vast cadres of the ruling party (SPLM); whereas those affected cadres of the ruling party started to feel it and demanded first, for internal democracy within the party so as to create space for meaningful internal changes – to achieve national changes – through addressing the problems of tribalism, dictatorship, corruptions and lack of social services. However, the demands by those cadres of the SPLM-IG seem to be also impossible to some extern because those very cadres like those of Pagan Amum etc, who turn to be demanding for internal democracy for meaningful changes within the party, to some extern are the very people that contributed to these problems. In this regards, it all sounds like a game of blame in order to win, or game of minds to accent for personal interests on expense of others within the system.

This resulted in internal difference, and conflicts of interests between the top cadres of the SPLM-IG, reshuffling of cabinet again for political interests of few, and sucking of the Vice President of Republic, Dr Riek Machar by the President of the Republic, Salva Kirr in 2013. These events are due to internal power struggle as for some, it is all about sustaining themselves into power, or to accent to power. In this regards, there was, and is nothing there as national interests than simple individual interests using national platform.

Due to that, the relationship between the top cadres remained soar and what seem to be internal political business of the political party (SPLM-IG), turned faster on tribal lines as well tribal alliances and then into what is widely stated as coup plot on the night of 15th, December 2013.

It is difficult to prove whether the said failed coup plot happened or not, but the fact is that;-

  • There was attempted to disarm Nuer tribesmen within the ranks and structures of the Presidential Protection Unit by Dinka Tribesmen and then,
  • There was resistance by Nuer tribesmen to comply with disarmament order which resulted in military confrontation between the two tribesmen within the Barracks – whereas the Nuer tribesmen were overpowered and withdrawn from Juba.

The consequence of the said alleged failed coup plot is the assumed massacre of Nuer tribesmen in Juba by Dinka tribesmen that engineered the Nuer tribesmen within the ranks and structure of the SPLA under overall command of Lt. General Peter Gatdiet in Jonglei to revolt and declare war on SPLM regime under President Salva Kirr. The alleged coup plot was indeed lately widely pronounced by both national and international figures as simple fabrications aimed to launch war against those in oppositions.

But then, the alleged Juba massacre cannot be taken as real problems for the current crisis – because these are not the causes of various rebellions against the SPLM-IG. The real problem of the south Sudan that sparked the war is SPLM-IG because of her policies and practices of Tribalism, Military Dictatorial rule which is resulted in bad governance and rule of law, Corruptions, and Lack of social services that causes south Sudanese to be unhappy.

The same scenarios of the SPLM-IG of fabrication of accusations of the coup de tact plot against the Person of Dr Riek Machar continued where they (SPLM-IG) called the incident that happened on 8th July 2016 in JI as attempted coup by Dr. Riek Machar against the leadership of the SPLM-IG that sparked another war, to give false reasons for the SPLM-IG in alliance with some elements of SPLM-IO leadership like General Taban Deng to topple the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar where as International Community are foiled to marry that plots which is the creation of the SPLM-IG to assassinate the person Dr. Riek Machar, and to launch war on SPLM-IO.

The fact is that the incident of the JI is total making of the SPLM-IG in order to falsely accuse Dr. Riek Machar and replace him by the person of their choice which they (SPLM-IG) managed to succeed in it. Indeed, there was nothing like coup attempt by Dr. Riek Machar. The SPLM-IG has plotted to accuse the Chairman of the SPLM-IO of coup plot prior to the incident of J1 and some of us were aware about plots in details. The evidence of the predetermined coup de tact against the leadership of the Dr. Riek Machar by the SPLM-IG was the call of the Presidential Protection Unity (Tiger Division) by the Vice President James Wani Igga on Monday 23 May 2016 when visited the Tiger Battalion (the Presidential Guards) in Nesitu, east of Juba to stay alert and be ready for any eventualities and this what can be said as awake call for the presidential guards to be ready for war that the Government has been plotting against SPLM-IO and particular the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar – which was followed by more redeployment of the SPLA Commandos around Juba, a well deployment of the member of the National Security heavily armed with Military Tanks in Jebel Kujuru nearer to the sites of the SPLM-IO.

The government plots of the government was actual not only to topple the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar but to assassinate him special during his visitation to the churches which the government looked at as threats, and his (Dr. Riek Machar) secret political campaigns for supports amongst Christians. hence members highly trained secret agents of the Government attached to the office of the president has been following Dr. Riek Machar and two of the agents were apprehended with well loaded pistol in close perimeter to the First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, firstly in Moru Congregation Church in Munuki and secondly in Kuku Congregation Church in Goshene.

The 2015 Compromised Peace Agreement and its’ violation

The Agreement on the Resolutions of the Conflict in the Republic South Sudan (ARCSS) is one of the not only failed but shameful agreements of our history that has placed the International Community before the eyes of ordinary south Sudanese as institutions with no capability to resolve the problem facing south Sudan. The agreement further examine the positions of the International Community because the very International Community that attempted to impose the agreement, the agreement was violated before their (International Community) very eyes and could do nothing until now to save it.

The systematic violations of the agreement on the resolutions of the conflicts in the republic of the south Sudan by the SPLM-IG are:-

  • Failure of the Salva Kirr to sign the agreement and his pronouncement of “Reservations as he signs the agreement later in Juba before International Community on 26th August 2015 expresses the unwillingly spirits of the government to implement the agreement. It can be taken that the violation of the agreement started even before the agreement was signed by the president Salva Kirr refusal to sign the agreement has it was expected on 16th August 2016 that left the agreement partial signed agreement until after international pressures, he reasoned to sign the agreement after 10 days in Juba. The president did not actual signed the agreement in good faith as he expresses reservations and statements that; the agreement is not Holy Bible or Quran. His reservations and expressions indeed manifested itself in lack of will to implement the agreement which has resulted in death of the agreement on the day of J1. Therefore in the regards of the violation of the agreement that resulted in the death of the agreement, the causes are very clear, so SPLM-IO and Dr. Riek Machar is never party to the violation as well collapse of the agreement under the custodian of the IGAD-Plus
  • Violation of the cease fire agreement within 48 hours of the signing of the agreement whereas the government forces launched multiple attacks on SPLM-IO forces in Leer, Mayandit and Koch counties in Unity State and this continues until the incident of JI on 8th July 2016. The SPLM-IG again violated the jointed statement issued by the President and First Vice President calling for the immediately ceases fire by attacking the SPLM-IO sites in Juba on the Sunday 10th and 12 July 2016, and continued to airstrike, as well ground attacked the SPLM-IO forces until to date.
  • The failure of the SPLM-IG to fully implement the security arrangement was another indication of the violation of the agreement itself.
  1. The SPLM-IG failed to implement security agreement deal that called for demilitarization of Juba to the radius of 25km within 90 days from the day of the signing the agreement. Instead of demilitarization, the government deployed more troops mostly from Barelghazal, the tribesmen of the President and General Chief of Staff in Juba.
  2. The SPLM-IG continued to deny the CTSAMM Monitoring and verification team access to some areas to carry on their designed tasks as mandated by in the agreement. There are intimidation and restriction of freedom of movement of the monitoring and verification teams in greater Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions where SPLM-IG categorical denies the existence of the SPLM-IO forces which the report by the Chairman of JMEC E. FESTUS MOGAE on 23 June 16 stated clearly these violations by the government.
  • The SPLM-IG violated the agreement by the creation of 28 states on Friday 2ndOctober 2015, as well appointment of the state governors on the Eve of the 23rd December 2015 two days after the first SPLM-IO peace advance team landed in Juba. The creation of the 28 States as well appointment of the States governors are illegal in a sense because was done with SPLM-IG without conscience of the SPLM-IO which is contrary to the agreement. The procedures should supposedly involve The Council of States as stipulated in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan Articles 161 (3), (4); as well the power sharing formula of the Agreement on the resolution of the Conflicts in the Republic of South Sudan as Chapter 1 Articles 1.1.6, 15.2 and 15.3 is based on 10 states, and not 28 states.
  • Appointment of presidential advisers by the president on Wednesday 4th May 2016was another violation of the agreement because the agreement clearly stated that, “the powers, functions and responsibilities to be exercised by the President, First Vice President and Vice President through consultation and mutual agreement are the nomination and appointment of the constitutional office holders – including the state governors, as well nomination and appointment of members of Independent commissions, Interim and ad hoc commissions and committees.” Unfortunately the president went on to appoint the presidential advisers without consultations and agreement of the First Vice President while knowing that was not the procedures for the appointment of any constitution post holders.
  • The SPLM-IG has demonstrated lack of the will in successful Implementation of the agreement despising the formation of the transitional Government of the National Unity and Council of Ministers by the their (SPLM-IG) unwillingly to expand the legislative wing of the Government that is the Transitional National legislative Assemble (TNLA) as agreed upon in the agreement and this was simple over the selection of the Speaker where as the SPLM-IG wanted to get out of the box in the process which is contrary to the agreement. It took 11 months since the agreement was signed and about 2 months since the Transition Government of National Unity was formed for the nation to run without Legislative Assemble which is violation of the agreement.
  • Replacement of the Legitimacy First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar by General Taban Deng Gai is illegal and can be termed as coup de tact by the SPLM-IG against the person of Dr. Riek Machar with aims of replacing him (Dr. Riek Machar) with a person of their (SPLM-IG) interests. The agreement stated that, “In the event that the post of the First Vice President falls vacant during the transition period for any reason, including mental infirmity or physical incapacity of the office holder, the replacement shall be nominated by the top leadership body of the South Sudan armed opposition as at the signing of this agreement. Such a process of replacement shall not exceed forty eight (48)” hours. The successor as the First Vice President shall serve in the office until the end of the transition period.

However, the replacement of Dr. Riek Machar by Taban Deng never met this requirement because in a first place General Taban Deng Gai was excommunicated from the SPLM-IO and relieved from his position as Minister for Mining on the SPLM-IO ticket. That means:-

  1. General Taban Deng was no more member of the SPLM-IO and for some who is not a member of the SPLM-IO to be chosen to lead the organization is in first place violation of the SPLM-IO constitutions as well the agreement.
  2. The forum that nominated General Taban Deng Gai is a wrong forum because it was a small amount of the SPLM-IO cadres which never compose 30% of the SPLM-IO leadership forum.
  3. the position of the First Vice President never fall vacant for what so ever reasons by was actual flashed out of Juba and his office militarily by the Government forces in military engagement that took three days in Juba, and thereafter continued to be pursued until he crossed to Democratic Republic of Congo.

Therefore, reasoning all that, one is made to believe that, the replacement of the legitimacy First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar is illegal and is actual predetermined coup de tact against the person of Dr. Riek Machar by the SPLM-IG and for international Community to support such illegal move, means they (the International Community) are not in supports of peace but violence – which we will be ready for it if peaceful means fails completely.

The Implication of the contemporary political crisis on the Nation

The danger of any situation is measured by its implications on the local populations – that directly or indirectly affects the lives of those facing the situations. Every political crisis has its implications on populations and therefore, political crisis is actual humanitarian crisis because it imposes threats on both individual and collective rights – thus, every approaches needs to be considered to address it as fast as possible before it is too late.

Though we believe that, south Sudan has been in political crisis even before the birth of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 until now, as there had been armed revolts one after another; but this current political crisis can be worse because it is widely spreading in every part of the Nation and its’ implications are:-

  • General insecurity and Massive displacement: – the ongoing crisis has caused major human insecurity directly from the warring factions and indirectly from lack of services whereas it has displaced more than a million people while leaving over two millions with less food, unclean water and no social services such health and education.
  • Worsen economic situations:-the country’s economy is at the stage of collapsing as economic activities has stop and investments is low due to insecurity fears. The 60% of the total revenue are spent on defense rather than to provide social services and improve social infrastructures to promote socio-economic development. South Sudan’s military expenditure is $1.08bn in 2014 while the Country solely depends on oil revenue by 98% of its revenue of which, the gross oil income is $3.38bn. After deducting $884m in payments to Sudan for the usage of the pipeline and other fees and another deduction of $781m repayments of loan to donors and international financiers, Juba remains only with $1.715 billion from oil revenues and spending $1.08 billion on defense means the country remained with only 0.076 which is about 40%. We spend much of defense while leaving the general population without services and there are no any infrastructure developments to enhance socioeconomic development and recovering.
  • Prolongation of military dictatorial reign:- South Sudan as a nation is supposedly to carry out her first post independent general elections where people can freely chose leaders of their choice – should the election be free and fair – which would have at least with foreseen pictures bring an end to military dictatorial rules and entrust the nation to democratic leadership, that will uphold democratic principles; to enhance good governance and rule of law, to protect and defend the rights of citizens in both administrative, legislative and social services providence arena.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The systematic violation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of the South Sudan by the SPLM-IG demonstrated the regime’s lack of will to bring the suffering of the people of south Sudan to an end by restoring peace through peaceful means.

We have both as a nation and international community witness the worse experience of the violation of the international backed agreement, yet we continues to develop unrealistic means -that will not resolve the problems facing South Sudan, and bring sustainable peace and stability for south Sudanese. The ongoing efforts of International Community and every concerned parties won’t yield any sustainable fruits because we seem to have taken into a believe that, the problems that brought South Sudan into crisis are internal problems of the SPLM 0r personal problems of the individuals namely Dr. Riek Machar while forgetting that, the real problems are the problems that ordinary citizens have against the SPLM whereas DR. Riek Machar is a simple individual chosen by God to help those suffering south Sudanese to found solutions to their sufferings from the regime that is manifested by Dictatorship, Corruption, Tribalism, discrimination and injustices, and lack of Social Services Deliverance/ National Development.

Therefore, even if the Dr. Riek Machar is ousted illegally and replaced by General Taban Deng Gai to suit the interests of the SPLM-IG; this still won’t solve the South Sudan’s problems by an inch – and it won’t make any changes for the nation in term of national reforms and well peace and stability because Riek is party to the agreement and SPLM-IO is party to him and without him, the agreement that SPLM-IG and those of Taban Deng Gai claiming to be implementing is dead and buried since he was flashed from Juba by the SPLM-IG forces in July 2015.

General Taban Deng Gai is general without army and therefore he has became party to the SPLM-IG but the army of the SPLM-IO remained in the bush with Dr. Riek Machar and if we believed that, the problems is political problems that has taken heed in military format, then General Taban Deng Gai and SPLM-IG won’t stop war because war is fought by the army and the army is with, and of Dr. Riek Machar.

Therefore the only way forward to rescue south Sudan from returning into full scale war requires the return, and reinstating of the Dr. Riek Machar to the position of the First Vice President of the Republic on condition that:-

  • There should be full implementation of the security arrangement agreement and demilitarization of Juba as well deployment of third party force for the security of the SPLM-IO leadership and members so as to allow the return of Dr. Riek Machar to his legitimacy position as the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan
  • Reduction of the presidential protection units allowed by the agreement to be in Juba to equal size with that of the First Vice President
  • Demolishment of the current Transitional National Legislative Assemble (TNLA), as well Transitional Government of the National Unity (TGoNU) to allow the formation of the New Transitional Government of the National Unity (TGoNU) as well Transitional National Legislative Assemble (TNLA) because the existing TNLA an TGoNU establishment are in violations of the agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS)
  • Full approval and establishment of the cantonment areas in greater Equatoria and Western Barelghzal regions
  • dissolutions of the illegal created 28 States and immediately establishment of bordering commission

we need peace so we need to take peaceful means to resolve our internal problems as a nation, but if the peaceful means cannot be found to resolve our problems, SPLM-IO is alive and strong to adopt to military options and stride into Juba with objectivity of bring suffering of our people to an end. For any resolutions for armed struggle as a key will be when peaceful political dialogues and approaches attempted with, to restore the culture of democracy, good governance and rule of the law, and fight corruption in the Country has fails, due to lack of political will by these in power positions.

About the Author

John Sunday Martin is an advocate for national unity, democratic reform and sustainable development, within the context of a multi-cultural South Sudan. He maintains a strong belief in the positive power of patriotism as an antidote to the crippling parochialism that has handicapped the nation since independence.

John Sunday Martin was born in 1981 in the remote township of Amadi in South Sudan. He grew up as an orphan and joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) at a young age. He rose through the military ranks during the course of the long civil war, which eventually led to the independence of the Republic of South Sudan. John Sunday Martin went on to serve as spokesman for the Revolutionary Movement of National Salvation (REMNASA), prior to its formal amalgamation with the SPLA – In Opposition (SPLA-IO) under the leadership of Dr Riek Machar. He continues to serve in the military, and currently holds the rank of Brigadier General within SPLA-IO, commanding 3rd Brigade of Division 9.

John Sunday Martin is single who spent most of his life as freedom fighter both within and outside South Sudan; he also spends his life online and can be reached by e-mail on: john.Sunday99@gmail.com

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