By Dr Lako Jada Kwajok,
July 31, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — I had the opportunity of reading through the Proposed Compromise Agreement On The Resolution Of The Conflict In The Republic Of South Sudan. This document as many of you know is the basis for negotiation to reach a peaceful settlement of the conflict. It has been endorsed unanimously by IGAD – PLUS partners after the consultation that took place in Addis Ababa between 21 to 23 of July 2015. As we know, the peace talks are scheduled to kick off on 05/08/2015 with a deadline by the end of 17/08/2015.
A lot of hope and good wishes have been placed on the coming negotiations by millions of South Sudanese and many other peace loving people to finally bring peace and stability to the war torn young country. President Obama on addressing the African Union ( AU ) in Addis Ababa, stressed that both Kiir and Machar must sign a peace agreement by 17/08/2015. However, when you subject the above document to careful scrutiny, you quickly realise that something is wrong, indeed many things are wrong. And gradually as you continue reading, you come to the conclusion that the document is full of flaws and missing some essential requirements that ensures the establishment of a just and permanent peace.
Firstly, I would like to address the issue of allocation of the presidency during the transition. As stipulated in the aforementioned document, Salva Kiir shall become the transitional president of the Republic of South Sudan for 30 months from the start of the transitional government of national unity ( TGoNU ). This is a nonstarter and indeed a deal breaker from my perspective and I am quite convinced that many South Sudanese share the same view. The reasons are the following :
1. His deeds have blemished his reputation for ever. To millions of South Sudanese, he is a genocidal ruler and a criminal. To others he is just a corrupt and a common thief. Still others consider him among the most tribalistic and divisive figures in South Sudan at the present time. The presidency is not like any other job in the world. That is because it carries a lot in it. There is the national pride, the reputation of the country and it also provides an insight for the outside world about who we are. What is seen in our president could be taken as a reflection of what we actually are as we are the people who allowed him to be on the helm. The president needs to be a person of high integrity, good reputation and to be respectable. This relates to the fact that he serves as a role model for the school children, the youths and our future leaders. This is why children are often named after presidents. Look at president Obama stance, he is a role model for the young and youths not only in his country but all over the world. His presidency has been uplifting to a whole generation of African Americans. Who in his or her right mind would want their son to follow the footsteps of Salva Kiir Myardit ?! Whatever good things he has done in the past, have been trumped or deleted in people’s memories by his heinous crimes.
2. It’s quite inconceivable that the Commission for Truth,Reconciliation and Healing ( CTRH ) would succeed in delivering the goods if Salva Kiir is allowed to preside over the transition. Just consider the following – many Nuer families have lost their love ones during the Juba massacre and some are still grieving from the recent atrocities in Unity State and haven’t reached conclusion to their ordeals. How would they feel when every day they watch the face of the person responsible for their grief on SSTV ?! Will this really be conducive to speeding up the healing process ?! Do not be misled by the Nuer Wews who are siding with Salva Kiir. They are fanatic food lovers who can kill and unleash carnage for food. They represent a negligible portion of the Nuer people displaying opportunism and political prostitution at its worst.
3. One of the things that would expedite healing is when the criminals are hold accountible for their heinous crimes. There will be a clear conflict of interest if Salva Kiir remains the top authority in the land. He is the top culprit in the atrocities but is it realistic that he would do the unbelievable thing of indicting himself or allow others to indict him ?! It will never happen under his watch, in fact he will try to manipulate, coerce or even dispose of any individual who attempts to uncover the truth.
What is worrying is that there is a phrase in the agreement document that reads ( mass violations of human rights has profound historical roots in our society which pre-date the current conflict ). It sounds like an attempt to water down the gravity of the atrocities or at least draw similarities with what happened in 1991. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a fundamental difference in terms of accountibility between the Juba massacre and what happened in 1991. There was no government or rule of law in the rebel held areas in 1991. What we have here is a government, recognised by many countries of the world and the UN.
This brings on certain obligations and duties most notable are respecting human rights and protecting civilians against atrocities and genocide. It’s clear that our government under Salva Kiir has violated the international law by committing heinous crimes against its own people. In a democratic society with no blind tribal allegiances, he would have been tried for treason because of plunging the country into civil war out of greed to maintain power. The good news is that, Obama mentioned in his address that ” the world awaits the African Union Commission ( AUC ) report because accountability for atrocities must be part of any lasting peace”.
This is music to my ears personally and certainly to the ears of the aggrieved families and millions of peace loving South Sudanese. It is a matter of principles, Salva Kiir and his group of criminals should not be allowed to get away with murder. This is simply because what is the guarantee that it will not happen again in future perhaps to a much smaller tribe. Nuer is a large tribe and losing 20,000 lives my not cause a catastrophic lasting effect. But we do have much smaller tribes some with a total number of less than 20,000 lives. Just imagine what happened to the Nuers has befallen one of these smaller tribes, the entire tribe would have been annihilated. That is why we should not allow the people responsible for these ugly acts to go unpunished otherwise it will set a precedent.
4. Kiir has been in office for nearly 10 years with no tangible achievements in terms of developmental projects, provision of services and improving the lives of the South Sudanese people. In fact the overwhelming majority of the people were much better off 10 years ago than they are now in regard to livelihood, access to health services and availability of schools for their children. In addition to that they were even more secure during the war than they are now. If the above is Salva Kiir’s track record, how much can he possibly do for the South Sudanese people in 30 months that he failed to do in 10 years ?! It will be a miracle if he comes up with something useful for the people of South Sudan. I will bet my bottom pound that it will be more of the same – corruption, tribalism, insecurity and absence of the rule of law.
5. The country needs a fresh start in the transition with a strong personality in the presidential palace. Salva Kiir has been proven weak time and again. He is unfit to lead this country in the transition or any time in future. Who would want the infamous Jieng council of elders to pull the strings from behind the curtains or Museveni running the shaw by remote control ?! And it’s not only Salva Kiir alone as many of his top ministers and the SPLM officials are corrupt and may have blood in their hands in relation to the massacres hence unsuitable to be candidates for the presidency. If people could agree, any one of the governors of the greater Equatoria states could do a better job in the transition than the current illegitimate president.
Even if people fail to agree on a politician why not try members of the clergy. Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro, Archbishop Daniel Deng or Bishop Parade Taban could be made president for the transitional period. There are precedents for that, Archbishop Makarios III was president of Cyprus from 1964 to 1974. In Africa, Bishop Abel Muzorewa was prime minister of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia from June to December 1979. At least he ( the clergyman ) will not be corrupt or lethal to our people and will be an asset in the process of healing. There are those who will say that a clergyman will be weak for the presidency. That is not true plus you already had the weakest president in the history of the world, any one who comes along can only be better. Even the chief of my village could have done a better job.
The author, Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org