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Analysis: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Case of South Sudan-Uganda Tripartite  Agreement, 


By Deng Elijah.

His Excellency Abdalftah Alburhan, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan, and His Excellency Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya's Special Envoy on South Sudan
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda convening a summit on South Sudan(Photo credit: State House/Uganda)

September 11, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — The tripartite summit, as it’s being archived today, is just the tip of an iceberg and as the saying goes “the evil lies in the details”, the real evil or the truth about this particular extension of the pre-transitional period and what could be achieved in one hundred days lies in the bearer of the iceberg itself that remains sacred to the “Tripartite”, and not in the growlers or the bergy bits that have been exposed to the rest of the world. Therefore, let’s analyze the bearer of the iceberg and not just its tip!

1. The origin of the 100 Days and the timing of the summit;

Leading to the day of the Tripartite Summit in Entebbe-Kampala, the world was electrified in fear that South Sudan was heading into another period of anarchy, war and violence. The fear of seeing South Sudan returning to its unfortunate old path of war puts the TROIKA (US, UK and Norway), the United Nations, European Union, Canada and other concerned nations on their toes. When these superpowers tried their best to extinguish the smoke before it turns into a real fire by calling on President Kiir to accept the extension, instead president Kiir unapologetically tried to punch back by condemning the international community and accusing them of interference; however, when a similar call was made by the Ugandan President, who is deeply and openly interfering in South Sudan politics, all that could be seen was a man [Salva Kiir] smiling or even cheering behind the Ugandan president.

This does not only create doubts on the submission of South Sudan to Uganda but also leaves doubts on whether all the scenes that led to November 7th, 2019 were intentionally synthesized and remote controlled by President Museveni to achieve his personal ambition in South Sudan and also in the Greater Lakes Region. What could these objectives be and why?

a). Ugandan Influence in South Sudan and Greater Lakes Region;

For the last thirty three (33) years that president Yoweri Museveni has been in power in Uganda, this small landlocked and poor country in the middle of Eastern African region has been the epicenter of hell in the region as Museveni plays his dirty tactics in each of the neighboring countries in order to hold on power, not only in Uganda but also in the region through the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the East African Community (EAC).

Kaguta Museveni has been the prime suspect in the death of leaders in the region that include the Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira, Congolese President  Laurent Kabila, SPLM/A founder Dr John Garang de Mabior, among other leaders in the region. While president Habyarimana and president Ntaryamira were assassinated through a plane crash after leaving East-Central African Peace Talks on Rwanda and Burundi, held in Arusha, Tanzania, in April 1994, Dr. John Garang de Mabior was assassinated through a plane crash in July 2005 after leaving a meeting with president Museveni, and coincidentally all the successors of these leaders became very close friends, if not puppets, to president Yoweri Museveni and the deaths of their predecessors were never addressed thereafter.

To gain influence on South Sudan for his personal ambition, President Museveni began to train the Southern Sudan rebels, the SPLA, and supplied them with arms and ammunitions to fight the government of Sudan from as early as the late 1980s. This was a cordial brotherly support at the time; however, that relationship shifted from the days leading to the death of Dr. John Garang de Mabior and since then President Museveni hardly sees himself as an elder brother but a father figure to South Sudan. This would never have been possible with independent thinkers like Dr. John Garang de Mabior and Dr. Riek Machar Teny but with Salva Kiir in power, remote controlling the destiny of South Sudan became a piece of cake for the Ugandan president. This remains the basis of the current relationship between Salva Kiir and President Yoweri Museveni.

To maintain such influence in South Sudan, Museveni continues to wheel himself in the center of South Sudan politics and initiatives like the recent Summit in Uganda give him all the regional, continental and international recognitions he needs, and therefore it may not surprise anyone if it turns out that the recent intense atmosphere in Juba was artificially manufactured by President Museveni in attempt to kill three birds with one stone. In an ideal world, it is not normal for a president to act like a victim of epilepsy or seizure the way President Salva Kiir acted recently in Juba – going around promising the parliament, his army, his police and the general public while rhetorically attacking the international community for something one man in the name of Museveni could change in just a matter of half a day. That begs the question of whether or not that was all a political theatrics!

b). The Meaning of “the Tripartite”

The etymology of tripartite dates back to Anglo-French or Middle English, and it was borrowed from the Latin word “tripartitus”, which is made up of two components – tri for three and partitus for parties. Therefore, tripartite means a coalition of three parties or something that is composed of three components. This was not the case during the recent summit in Entebbe, Kampala.

President Yoweri Museveni, Prime Minister Abdalftah Alburhan of Sudan, President Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and, His Excellency Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya's Special Envoy on South Sudan posting for a picture after the Summit in Entebbe(Photo credit: State House/Uganda)
President Yoweri Museveni, Prime Minister Abdalftah Alburhan of Sudan, President Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and, His Excellency Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya’s Special Envoy on South Sudan posting for a picture after the Summit in Entebbe(Photo credit: State House/Uganda)

For the sake of political correctness, there were four countries (Uganda, Sudan, Kenya and South Sudan) that were represented in the meeting and more than five parties i.e. Uganda, Sudan, Kenya and South Sudan political rivals that participated. Therefore, “tripartite” was not the appropriate term to use but as explained in the previous sections, “tripartite” is part of the evil that lies in the details.

First of all, a rival cannot be a mediator to himself and his other rivals. In other words, President Salva Kiir cannot be a player and a referee within the same match. Kiir went to Entebbe specifically to represent a regime against another rival, the SPLM/A (IO), and to negotiate with a fellow South Sudanese leader who represent an entity that does not recognize his leadership. Therefore, Uganda was convening two rivals in order to evaluate and resolve their grievances, and as such the two rivals should have been treated at the same benchmark!

Secondly, it should be noted that President Salva Kiir is also trying to be a mediator to Abdalftah Alburhan A. Alrahman, the President of the Sovereign Transitional Council of Sudan, and his rivals. Given the recent crises in Sudan, the position of Alburhan in regional politics and position of South Sudan as a mediator of Sudan crisis, the position of Sudan as a peace guarantor alongside Uganda should be re-evaluated; however, in the meantime, if Kenya, which is more stable and more influential in the region, shows up in a case of South Sudan mediation, then Kenya deserves to be given a better recognition than Sudan and South Sudan because the two countries are in more mess than Kenya.

In sum, it suffices to conclude that President Museveni must have chosen the term “tripartite” or created the entire situation: one, because President Museveni wants Uganda to be recognized as an equal partner to Sudan in South Sudan and two, the summit was intended to boost the legitimacy of the two Sudans leaders, Alburhan and Salva Kiir, who are struggling to gain their positions in regional politics and also bearing the brunt of internal crises at the international level.

c). Holding the Summit ahead of the parties meeting in Addis Ababa:

In Africa, the tendency to weight muscles is very high. It is very common to see Africans going on strike or coming into the picture at the very last moments when another bigger event is about to occur. Often the intent is to show muscles or your level of your influence in a given society or association.

This would not be the first or the last time for President Museveni to display his dirty influence in South Sudan or in the region through weak leaders like Salva Kiir. Knowing that he fully controls this aperture and that he[Kiir] will not resist his orders, Museveni came out in the very last minute and suddenly his magic worked and entirely replaced IGAD meeting that was planned for November 8th, 2019. Given that many countries tried to intervene and failed, his simple intervention, which was widely covered by local and international media, has sent shockwaves throughout the world and this partially redeems his deteriorating political grip in his country, in South Sudan, in the region and also in Africa. This has also built some lines of trust between him and the armed opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, and supporters!

2. What “100 Days” Can Achieve:

South Sudan’s army Chief, Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak and SPLA-IO Deputy Chief of GS for Admin. & Logistics (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

The one hundred days, or literally three months and one week, are to substitute the original eight months that elapsed in May, 2019 and additional six months that are due to expire in tomorrow, November 12, 2019. In other words, the three months should be used to implement all the provisions of the pre-transitional period that were not implemented in the last 14 months and such provisions comprise of over 75% of the provisions that were to be originally implemented.

Logically speaking it sounds impossible to implement what could not be implemented in 14 months in just 100 days; however, looking at the provisions and the points of contention, the implementation is lagging behind not due to lack of time but due to lack of political will, mostly from the regime side. If the parties, especially president Kiir, have the political will to implement the peace agreement some provisions such as the releasing of funds, the decision to reverse the number of states and the release of prisoners of war, which are major provisions, can all be done in less than half a day. The rest of provisions, especially on security arrangements, can all be done in a matter of weeks to a few months. The question is therefore whether or not the parties have changed their political willingness to implement the peace agreement in letter and spirit this time.

a). If Museveni Is Serious:

Given his influence in South Sudan and his relationship with president Kiir, the Ugandan president is the only common denominator that can effectively ensures that the parties fully commit to implement all the provisions of the peace agreement in letter and spirit. Museveni has the stick and carrot not only to get Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek to work together but also to force Salva Kiir to perform miracles even against his[Kiir] will as he[Museveni] demonstrated recently in Entebbe; however, the Ugandan president suffers from conflict of interests.

Museveni is one of the direct beneficiaries from South Sudan’s conflict as he personally steers the conflicts, both politically and militarily. In addition to having a direct grasp of South Sudan oil revenues, the conflict has become a direct source of employment to his huge military, the UPDF that is deployed within South Sudan. Furthermore, the conflict is a significant source of employment to many Ugandans who are either working or doing businesses in South Sudan.

Notwithstanding that many South Sudanese are sending their families and children to school in Uganda which generates millions of US dollars for Ugandans through school fees, rents and medical bills; nearly two million South Sudanese are being accommodated and taken care of by the United Nations in Uganda. Overall, these boost Uganda’s GDP, its image and bilateral relations with the donors’ countries.

It is therefore, a do or die, for the Ugandan leader to give up all these benefits, which are likely to tilt the foundation of his grip on power in Uganda and also in the region. A peaceful South Sudan may create a huge unemployment for his army and people, and that would surely generate economics crises and possible uprising against his NRM leadership. For these reasons, it remains to be seen whether or not President Museveni will strictly push for a sincere, honest and full implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan.

b). The New Committee, Review and Reporting Mechanism

The Tripartite Summit established that a new Mechanism from the guarantors and the parties will be introduced to supervise the implementation of the critical tasks. In the communique it is not crystal clear if by “guarantors and parties”, the Summit refers to Uganda and Sudan as the guarantors, on the one hand, and the SPLM-IG and the SPLM-IO as the parties on the other hand. Given the recognition of South Sudan as one of the three parties that forms the “Tripartite”, it is also possible that the regime may play a double role as both a guarantor and a party to the disadvantage of other stakeholders.

Although it may seems important to form a new Committee to supervise the extension of the pre-transitional period, it is a violation of the revitalized peace agreement in the sense that the Tripartite Summit was not inclusive and the new committee may also not include other stakeholders that are signatories to the R-ARCSS. In addition to establishing a new Committee, President Kiir has hinted to replace Hon. Tut Kew Gatluak, the Chairman of the National Pre-Transition Committee for allegedly failing to implement the Pre-Transitional Period.

In terms of efficiency, forming a new committee when the NPTC still exists is redundant given that the two committees would have exactly the same role – to supervise the implementation of the Pre-Transitional Period. Financially, it is not economically feasible to spend extra money on salaries of more committees when the implementation is already lagging behind due to funding. It would have been better if the Summit frozen the current NPTC to pave way for the new committee.

In terms of reporting and evaluation, the new committee is expected to evaluate implementation after 50 days. This reduces the chances of success to only 50% and this is less effective compared to if the new committee would be reporting to the guarantors and parties every 2 weeks. Reporting after 50 days literally means that the guarantors and the parties will only meet once within the next three months. This is a waste of forming a new committee. The guarantors, Machar and Kiir should have committed themselves to meet more regularly to ensure that the implementation goes smoothly and if needs be the parties would try to solve any outstanding issues as new challenges avail themselves!

3. Recommendations: 

Should the new extension elapses and all the provisions are implemented, well and good, the parties should proceed to form the new Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity forthwith, on or before February 20, 2020; however, should the new extension elapses without solving any of the major provisions, mostly the security arrangement, constitutional amendment, issues of governance, number and boundaries of states, then the parties should consider the following:

1. Inclusivity observed, the parties revise or renegotiate the full peace agreement;

2. Change the guarantors and mediators from Eastern African countries and the defunct IGAD to Western African and ECOWAS or any other organization that is worth trustworthy and impartial.

3. Seek better mediators and guarantors, and repeat this option over and over until a capable mediator or a better solution is found!

The author, Deng Elijah, is the Chief Executive Director of Nyamilepedia. For information regarding this specific article he can be reached through his email at dengsimon2000 at yahoo dot com or through Nyamilepedia at nyamilepedia@gmail.com. For short opinion articles and ideas, you can follow Deng on Facebook and Twitter by liking his personal page at Deng Elijah 

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