Kiir will not win peace if he continue with current strategies

By Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach

South Sudan President, Salva Kiir speaking during peace celebration ceremony in Juba on October 31st 2018 (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)
South Sudan President, Salva Kiir speaking during peace celebration ceremony in Juba on October 31st 2018 (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

October 30th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – In 2000, the Organization of African Unity current called African Union (AU) adopted a Lomi Declaration, replacing its long-standing tolerance of military takeovers of powers with a rejection of coups. AU strengthened its position through a number of legal instruments, include Constitutive Act of 2000 and 2002 protocols established the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), and the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (henceforth African Charter). These instruments allow AU to suspend governments that try to come to powers by what they termed “unconstitutional means”, and apply means and sanctions against “perpetrators.”

These legal documents embrace a ban on coup legitimizations, which bar the perpetrators of unconstitutional actions even if it is to restore democratic responsibilities in the political institutions of a country.

Therefore, military coups, in contemporized African leadership settings, are no longer effective tools in part because the African Union does not recognize governments that originated and merged to powers through military means. However, African leaders are not willingly abide by term limits or accepted political changes. Similarly, these leaders do not believe in what they termed, “Western Democratic system.” Some African countries, such as Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan, just to mention few demonstrate the behaviors of African leaders, who would not mind changing the rules of the game even during the game times.

They prefer to simply change the laws and constitutions that stand in their way when they are confronted with unfavorable potential election results or changes in their political parties. South Sudanese leaders did that a lot. These leaders utilize their political positions of powers to legally maneuver political systems by brutally crackdown on oppositions or those objected their actions, and these caused conflicts!

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which was established in 1996 on purpose of regional peace and development among countries, such as: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, has done no different to bring peace after conflicts in the region. IGAD tried to mitigate the problem in South Sudan since 2014 with assistance from troika countries, (USA, UK and Norway) that paid the bills for the peace talks in Addis Ababa and other cities.

The group is preoccupied currently with their internal issues and it seems to pay no attention of the ongoing crises in South Sudan. Some of its members have already chosen sides from the onset to lengthening the sufferings of South Sudanese. Rests have done nothing to confront the evils within the group.

However, the IGAD-PLUS, which includes all these countries plus troika and China, managed to pull a peace deal which was signed in August 2015 by leaders of South Sudan after a long negotiation before these regional countries overcame their individual interests and differences to focus on a biggest figure of saving the lives of people of South Sudan.

The Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) signed with conditions from Pres. Salva Kiir, one the key principals, whose role was needed for a smooth implementation of the accord. If that peace was honestly implemented as it was manufactured, South Sudanese lives could have been saved because the deal addressed ways for rebuilding trusts through honest reconciliation, accountability, forgiveness and healing among the people of South Sudan.

Pres. Kiir did not like provisions in the Agreement, especially the military aspect of it, the two army arrangements. The accountability was another issue as well since he feared some of his core members would be affected if report of Former President of the Republic of Nigeria, H. E. Obasanjo, is employed. Peace and Security Council of the African Union (PSCAU), at its 411th meeting held at the level of Heads of State and Government, in Banjul, Gambia, on December 30, 2013 and mandated the establishment of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS), which was headed by H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President of the Republic of Nigeria.

The Chairperson of the Commission, in consultation with the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and other relevant African Union (AU) structures, immediately established a Commission to investigate the human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan and made recommendations on the best ways and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.

The Commission submitted its report to Council within a maximum period of three months though it went longer than that. The IGAD-PLUS took the commission report and recommendations for further implementation. As part of its response to the crisis in South Sudan, the Commission adopted the Terms of Reference (ToR) detailed in the Concept Note Relating to the Establishment to:

1. Establish the immediate and remote causes of the conflict;
2. Investigate human rights violations and other abuses during the conflict by all parties from December 15, 2013;
3. Establish facts and circumstances that may have led to and that amount to such violations and of any crimes that may have been perpetrated;
4. Compile information based on these investigations and in so doing assist in identifying perpetrators of such violations and abuses with a view to ensuring accountability for those responsible.

The Commission interpreted its mandate to consist of four focal areas: healing, reconciliation, accountability and institutional reforms after identifying perpetrators. The Commission approached its mandate in a holistic manner, which was to emphasize the interrelatedness of the mandate areas. The commission recommendations were enshrined as tools to pave ways for better forward to bring a lasting peace in the country. The peace could also bring permanent harmony in the country had it been executed as drafted and signed.

The article 4.1 of the agreement stated, “Upon entry into force of the Permanent Ceasefire, the existing IGAD “Monitoring Verification Mechanism (MVM) shall transition to become the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM)”, which was charged to be responsible for reporting on the progress of the implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements (PCTSA).

The CTSAMM was supposed to be responsible for monitoring compliances and reporting directly to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) on the progresses of the implementation of the PCTSA. However, Pres. Kiir decided to dishonor the ARCSS, and many people, including this writer did not know why while IGAD and AU bodies failed to save their brainchild? As he promised through his preconditions, Pres. Kiir allowed disgruntles within parties to carryout military conspiracies to disgrace the ARCSS.

Instead of working out their differences with his partners, especially Dr. Riek and other signatories, Pres. Kiir categorically handpicked who he wanted to work with and utilized him as a playing tool to abolish the agreement in order to implement the status quo.

Pres. Kiir nominated whoever he wanted from different parties despite what was written in the Agreement that parties select their members into unity government. Gen. Taban Deng Gai, who claimed a mandate of a full representation of IO membership became his buddy. This decision enlarged the conflict, and many people lost their lives as a result until a new ceasefire and agreement signed.

The international community, especially the United States of America, which spent billions of USD for humanitarian and other assistances in South Sudan, whereas the regime in Juba spent twice as much on purchasing modernized military hard wires to murdering its own people, as well as mortgaging the national resources to prolong war, did not do much to redouble their efforts to pressure Pres. Kiir to reverse unwise decision and do what’s right for his people and country in order to spare innocent lives by implementing the Agreement. Instead, US followed the misled of IGAD and AU to bless Pres. Kiir’s new strategies, which were to implement his preconditions. However, Pres. Kiir did not win the war nor the peace. Again, Pres. Kiir will not win the peace leaves alone war if he continues with the similar strategies!

Everyone from South Sudanese to regional and international communities had seen the results of his strategy. It is factual that the last approach did bring the lasting peace needed in the country, and a similar approach of July 8, 2016 scenario will fail again if it is replanted. It is imperative that Pres. Kiir listening to his heart this time and not to the fears of his surroundings. He has a chance now as a leader, if he implements this revitalized agreement in letters and spirit, to regain trust and maybe forgiven by relatives of those that were victimized in this political crisis.

In a lecture on practical leadership, I challenged the concept of leadership in one aspect. Many people, including myself, like to point figures to certain people when things did not go right—that it was a failure of other people’s leadership. Normally, people fault those on the top hierarchies for failing to lead, provide vibrant direction and/or motivate behaviors to adhere leadership mandates and objectives.

I agree! A true leader ought to a vision and objectives that impact positive lives of his people. It is impossible to lead without knowing where one’s going. With no vision and direction on how to arrive into a location — is like trying to go to someone’s house with less direction on how to get into such location. In this case, it would take longer if indeed one can arrive; otherwise, the result would be a loss in the wilderness and probably a return to the previous location or status quo. Why doling that? If someone misunderstood my instance, here is what I am saying: Pres. Kiir will hardly bring a meaningful peace (which he has a high chance of doing it now) if he will replicate the mistake of the past. The talk in Juba that Pres. Kiir wanted to nominate someone from IO to represent Dr. Riek or leaves IO out altogether would bring no different from what happened in Juba in 2016! But why repeating the same thing?

A valued leader with a vision and clear objectives and processes for roadmaps to connect dots is a successful leader. The question regarding Pres. Kiir leadership is: can success or failure of his leadership be a joint responsibility of all? Do Dinka intellectuals (JCE) and others who are surrounding Mr. Kiir know where Pres. Kiir is leading the nation into? Does anyone care about the future of South Sudan and/or the next generations? I would hope someone answers this question yes, and I will tell you why. The top leadership provide vision and directions. The top leadership can motivate hearts and encourage the souls for a commitment and sacrifices. Lower levels of leadership executive mission, vision, objectives and committee to mandate’s execution as proposed, but if the lower levels of leadership decides different approaches, results are differences from what the top leader is presented. What does that mean to those that are surrounding Pres. Kiir? Be the judge!

The solution to our problem is within us. The international and regional media outlets are silent of seriously informing the world about manmade catastrophes in South Sudan or the torrent flood that affected millions of people in the country currently. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced graved famine hitting South Sudan. This news did not surprise anyone since most civilians in South Sudan depend heavily on agricultural productive services while the disastrous civil war and now flood displaced them from their destroyed homes. UNHCR reported unbelievable statistics of South Sudanese who left their homes. Since 2013, over 4.5 million people – about one in three South Sudanese – have been displaced within the country. More than 2.2 million people are now refugees in countries across the region, including Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Sudan refugees who reached Uganda are over 1,000,000. Sudan ranks second while Ethiopia and Kenya are combined with over a million. South Sudan is behind Afghanistan and Syrian in interim of displaced people. These three countries have more than 50 percent of refugees world-wide.

More than 60 percent of South Sudanese refugees are children, many arriving with alarming levels of malnutrition and traumas. Thousands of women and girls have been raped; their homes were burned with all their properties destroyed. South Sudan economic crushed since the inflation rate ranges highest and is more than 600 percent, which makes it difficult to import goods from other countries since the new nation does not produce its own goods. It is also a problematic for everyone, including the heavily weights, to place food and feed families, let alone the average poor.

If you are a leader and you are faced with these issues, what would you do? Good leader does right thing for their people first. If your people need peace bring lasting and honest peace to them. This strategy follows by development. You win people hearts and minds by doing what saves their lives. Why Pres. Kiir listens to those that are not helping him as a leader for all people of South Sudan instead of few? Why would it be a good thing to see children and widows who fearing to come out to their occupied houses and choose to live in that terrible conditions behind your Palace, Mr. President? Why not do the right thing by implementing security and state provisions, so your people feel secure to return to their homes? I believe Pres. Kiir needs Dr. Riek for this divided nation to bring a lasting peace. Shortcut to that will bless the similar mistake and recurrent into the unstoppable crisis once again. Is it what you wanted Mr. President?

The world must prioritize peace by giving an ultimatum to the leaders, especially Pres. Kiir, to implement critical issues, such security and state matters before the foundation of the unity government. It is a mistake for UNSC to think otherwise. The IGAD, AU and the rest of the world need to assist the parties and urge them to prioritize the focus on outstanding issues to provide roadmaps for a genuine peace to be realized in South Sudan. I believe peace could still come around and save the lives of South Sudanese. It is important to urge the two signatories (Pres. Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar) plus others to work together for the interest of South Sudanese!

The author, Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach, lives and works in Nashville, TN (USA) and can be reached via pelkuoth@gmail.com

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