BY SIMON KULUSIKA
August 14th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The international community was informed on 5 August, 2018 of the signing of another South Sudan peace deal between the parties to the armed conflict in South Sudan. The main signatories to that deal were President Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of South Sudan and Dr. M. Riek Machar, Chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Opposition (SPLM – IO).
It was also reported that the signing of the peace deal was witnessed by several African Heads of State, and that the signing took place in the Capital of Sudan, Khartoum on the date shown, indicating that Sudan was the main mediator to the peace agreement.
President Gen. Omar Al Basher deserves applause from the people of SS for his wisdom and ability to bring together President Kiir and Dr. Machar to sign the Khartoum Peace Agreement for SS.
This article explores the significance of the South Sudan Peace Agreement (hereafter referred to as SSPA, or the Khartoum Peace Agreement, or Omar Al Basher Agreement). Its main features are that it incorporates many of the provisions of the Peace Agreement signed in 2015 following the fighting in Juba and other cities across South Sudan (SS) in 2013.
It resolves hard – line positions of Opposition Groups by providing for a specific governance system and power sharing formulae. The signing of the Khartoum Peace Agreement was witnessed by a number of African Heads of State thereby exerting pressure on the parties to it to abide diligently by its terms.
In addition, it sets time – frame for holding elections that are expected to usher in a government that will take – over from a transitional government and ensure that peace prevails throughout the land. The 180 days set for holding elections and ninety days for drawing states boundaries are considered by observers as imaginary and not practicable.
This article tends to agree with such observations for reasons to be given under.
The Khartoum Peace Agreement has been described by some commentators as the ‘South Sudan final peace agreement’. Whether the peace agreement of Khartoum on resolving the on – going armed conflict can meaningfully be described as ‘final’ remains to be seen.
What is indisputable is that the said agreement came after several peace agreements and several ceasefire agreements signed by the parties to the armed conflict in South Sudan since 2015. This commentator is cynical as many South Sudanese are skeptical about the finality of the just concluded peace agreement.
This skepticism is justified by failure to implement previous peace agreements. Implementation in most cases was marred by procrastination and violations on both sides. This time one hopes things will be different considering that Khartoum has leverage on both President Kiir and Dr Machar and can exert pressure on both sides to faithfully implement the terms of the agreement. One must always hope for the best.
Observers and many SS nationals within and without SS are skeptical on whether the Khartoum Peace Agreement will hold and be implemented by the parties to the armed conflict in South Sudan. As has been indicated this commentator tends to hold the same views.
First, the governance formulae are not workable as they perpetuate the status quo. The agreement refers to federal system but employs the term devolution. This is a clear misconception of true federalism which is supposed to be based on SHARED SOVEREIGNTY not devolution of powers which is merely the giving by the national or central government of some powers to the regions or states.
In this latter case the states are not politically autonomous entities but merely surrogate local authorities with some features of a federal state intended to appease the local people and subdue their political aspirations to effectively participate in the governance of the country.
Second, the proposed Executive system is not going to work. Executive presidency presupposed descending chain of commands. In societies as existed in SS this type of chain of command is alien due to the fact that in these societies, e.g., Dinka, Nuer, etc, no man is subordinate to another man.
That is no man takes instructions from another man. There are no leaders among those peoples as found among the AZANDE, SHIELLUK, LOTUKA or MA’DI of SS. It follows that Kiir and Machar cannot work together as president and vice president respectively as required under democratic dispensation.
To resolve this dilemma, a collective presidential system should be put in place governed by a State Council (SC) consisting of 7, 9, or 11 members who will rule SS by rotation based on the tenure of the State Council (SC). A member of State Council loses his or her seat in the SC through impeachment.
The SC takes decisions by consensus, failing which by 2/3 majority of all the members of the SC. There will be a Prime Minister as head of the Council of Ministers chosen from among the members of the majority party in the Lower House of the legislature. He or she shall be removed from office by vote of no confidence conducted in the Lower House of the national legislature.
Each state shall have a prime minister as head of the state government to be selected from members of the state legislature of the party with majority in the lower house who serves for four years unless removed by a vote of no confidence.
Third, the issues related to conducting elections within 180 days. This requirement is not practical although it is dictated by circumstances beyond any body’s control. No doubt many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and those returning from refugees camps will be deprived from voting.
It is impossible for those people to be repatriated and resettled within 180 days. Repatriation alone requires at the least 24 to 36 months. The proposed 90 days for the determination of numbers of state and demarcation of their respective boundaries cannot be done in 90 days unless that exercise is to be done arbitrarily.
Fourth, the issues relating to numbers of state must be carefully addressed to minimize tensions, defuse conflicts and prevent outright armed confrontations. There is nothing illegal in adding more states to those pre – independence ones. Illegality would have arisen if the government decided to abolish the then ten states and turn SS into an ultra – unitary State in which system people are denied meaningful
The current proposed figures are 32, 21, 10 states. This article considers 32 states as too
many and unnecessary. The figures 21 and 10 are unreasonable as they do not take into account regional
3 – demands for effective participation. This article suggests 28 states subject to review within 24 months from the time of their installation. The 28 states to be distributed as follows: Greater Bahr Al Ghazal 11 states; Greater Equatoria 8 states and Greater Upper Nile 9 states. Each state shall have its own executive, legislature (two houses as at the national or central level) and judiciary (local courts, Magistrate’s courts,
High courts and Court of Appeal).
Appeal from state Appeal court lies to the national or central Supreme Court. All states institutions are not subject to control by the national or central government except in
matters of coordination. These states should be modeled on the Canadian, German or Indian federalism. The decisions regarding the boundaries of these states must take into account historical, linguistic and mobility factors.
Fifth, the proposed distribution of ministerial posts should not pose any difficulty. The only problem that might arise relates to achieving a degree of harmony in the presidency with more than five Vice presidents considering what has been said previously in respect to the dislike of subordination that prevails among the Nilotic peoples of SS.
Sixth, the proposed distribution of seats in the legislative bodies should not raise serious objection. For SS it would be helpful if the distribution of such seats in the lower houses of legislature were based on Proportional Representation as exists in South Africa. Proportional representation ensures the representation of most if not all political forces in the country. It also reduces cries against domination in Parliament.
There should be special formulae for the selection of members of the Upper Houses at all
levels of government.
Seventh, the judiciary should include a Constitutional Court at national or central level only. It shall be responsible in determining all constitutional controversies arising at all levels of national or central government or a state level or between the national or central government and a state government. Its decisions in constitutional matters shall be final.
Eighth, the Khartoum Peace Agreement contains some extra – ordinary figures. For example, it proposes a lower house of 550 members. Kiir’s party getting 332 and Machar’s party about 128 seats. The remainder seats go to the other opposition groups. The agreement also proposes a cabinet of 35 ministers, let alone a number of deputy ministers that must be appointed.
The agreement proposes the appointment of five Vice Presidents, and that elections must be held in 180 days. One can only surmise the motive or intention of those who put forward such figures. They are puzzling to say the least, and they are potentially disruptive.
Finally, there are thorny issues relating to the formation of national army, national security services and national police and correctional services. The formation of these vital institutions or establishments must reflect national character than they are currently where one or two ethnic groups are dominant. The deployment of these forces or services must also reflect regional character. For example, there is no justification for having a military garrison in Nimule predominantly composed of Dinka ethnic group rather than Ma’di, Kuku, Taposa or Lotuka ethnic groups, or combination of those groups, people who have been in contact with the Ma’di for many years.
4- On arrival in Juba, President Kiir made some strong and negative remarks on the agreement. The remarks have thrown doubts on the prospects of implementing the said agreement. This will constitute a separate article, InSha’Allah.
The Khartoum Peace Agreement is important for the people of SS. It sets minimum required for dialogue between the parties to the armed conflict in SS. But President Kiir and Dr Machar should be reminded that President D. Trump Administration ‘remains skeptical whether they are capable of overseeing a peaceful and timely transition to democracy and good governance.’ This is the challenge to both Kiir and Machar.
In any case, If the agreement is adhered to by all sides to the war in SS, it will lead to stability and peace two necessary conditions for political, economic and social development. If the protagonists procrastinate or violate the terms of the agreement, the Khartoum Peace Agreement will be turned into rubbish. This entails the prolongation of the uffering of the people of SS. History will hold those violators accountable.
The people of SS are crying for peace. They long for peace to rebuild and regain confidence in themselves and to trust in their leaders. To prepare themselves in order to meet the challenges of life. They cannot afford to expend another century running up and down in search of pacific sanctuaries as they had done during the era of the Slave – trades or during the campaigns of subjugation. Today it is the leaders of the people who are causing people to be dislocated from their homes to seek refuge in foreign countries.
People are mourning and grieving. It is hoped the leaders will listen.
The author is an associate professor at the Zambia Open University.
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