Dak Buoth Opinion

Opinion: The President was not sincere on his rejection of two armies in South Sudan

By Dak Buoth Riek-Gaak,

South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, right, and opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar, left, signing a preliminary peace deal in Khartoum, Sudan, (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)
South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, right, and opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar, left, signing a preliminary peace deal in Khartoum, Sudan, (photo: File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

24th April, 2021(Nyamilepedia)South Sudanese are undergoing immense suffering from the lack of sincerity on the part of the political leadership in the country. Sincerity as many of you know is referred to as ‘‘the absence of pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy.’’  This prevailing political culture is often breed and brought by total disregard for integrity. 

Oxford dictionary defines integrity as: ‘‘the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.’’ A man or woman of integrity cannot lie; s/he means what he says and his words are his bone. But most South Sudanese political office holders lie on camera in a broad day light with impunity. More often than not citizens are finding it unappetizing to listen and follow them. At times they say this and do the opposite. 

Lack of sincerity is an issue that keeps eroding public confidence on the leadership of our country.  Most leaders in South Sudan says what they don’t believe in. And this is one thing that makes citizens not to respect them, because respect is something you earned through reputation. Unfortunately, most leaders in South Sudan demands respect for no reason at all. Who can respect a liar? It’s common knowledge that South Sudanese are always being lied to by people who are still occupying public offices. 

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend of mine who is an immediate former National TGoNU legislator. At one point I asked him: I read that the presidency will constitute the National and state parliaments last week, now days had gone and nothing is happening; what is really obstructing the process of constituting these August houses? In fact I was eager and interested to know when this will take place, because as a convener of Senior Youth of South Sudan (SEYOSS), I had already submitted the names of our organization for appointment to national and state Parliaments. 

In reply, he said they keeps saying next week, next week until it just becomes a song. He added that as of now no one is taking them seriously. I like that he was candid in his comment. He really affirmed that they are butch of liars. This may seem as insult but it is naked truth accompanied by facts and evidence. 

This story leads me to an historical event that is known to many of us. You would recall in August 2015, President Salva Kiir failed to append his signature on the first Peace Agreement in front of IGAD Leaders in Ethiopia due to the clause in the agreement that created two armies with two commanders in chief. 

He later signed the agreement reservedly in Juba after weeks of pressure and persuasion from the IGAD leaders and the International Community. But even as he was signing the peace deal in Juba, he made it crystal clear that he had reservation, and that he signed it under duress. His bone of contention at the time was two armies. 

Despite his reservation, people went ahead. And In April 2016, his arch rival Dr. Riek Machar, the leader of the SPLM-IO was flown to Juba with his thousand protection forces via UN charter planes. 

In July 2016, fierce violence broke out in Juba while the two leaders were in a security meeting at state house alias J1 following a deadly clash between their forces in Juba the previous day. From there violence ensued and about hundreds of soldiers got killed the same day.

The former was later forced to Congo, and as result the agreement collapsed despite the hasty swearing-in of Machar’s erstwhile comrade, Gen. Taban Dengai in the midst of renewed civil war in the country. 

In 2017, when the peace agreement dubbed ‘Compromised Agreement on the Resolution of the conflict in South Sudan’ was revitalized, the IGAD mediators saw fit that the clause that provided two armies should be reviewed and removed. 

Perhaps IGAD repealed the clause to massage the President’s ego hoping that he would lead by implementing the Khartoum Peace agreement to the letter and spirit. 

Ultimately, when the Khartoum Peace Agreement was signed in 2018, President Kiir made a remark in one of the interviews in Juba, saying this latest agreement is tenable and enforceable, because it removes the creation of two armies in the country. 

Of course, the Khartoum agreement is also clear on the issue of two armies and security. It says explicitly that the rival forces commanded by President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar should be retrained, reoriented and redeployed prior to the formation of the revitalized transitional government of National Unity (R-TGoNU). 

However, the two principals ahead form the government in violation of the same agreement that says the rival forces should be reunified first and foremost. Now it has taken us a year without the forces being reunified under one single command. 

The negative effects of having separate armies and militia are there for everyone to see and feel. Even those who have not experienced the effects will be worried of the situation in a country where there is no one single national police and no single national army. 

In view of the foregoing, the question I have been asking over time is: if the president was sincere on his rejection of two armies in South Sudan, why can’t he work to expedite the reunification of forces in the country?  If at all he was sincere at the time, now he would have strives to make sure that the rival forces are reunified prior or after the formation of the revitalized transitional government of National Unity. But as we have seen he is complacent on this issue as the insecurity continues to deepen and deteriorate in his direct watch. 

Instead of acting swiftly to tackle this issue at hand, he is busy conducting military purges as if that will minimize or reduce insecurity that the country is battling with. 

The kinds of ambushes that are happening on the roads and highways are as a result of the existence of rival forces and soldiers that are operating without pay. I understood that Travelers on road and sea are heavily taxed by different security organs under different systems, making life unbearable for hard working citizens who are striving to put food on table for the children and loved ones. Of late, the country had witnessed rampant insecurity and assassination attempts in various states. 

On 21st April 2021, I learned by Radio Tamazuj online news that the government of Eastern Equatoria state had agreed that security operation in the state will be undertaken by joint forces of SSPDF and SPLM-IO after realizing that the state activities and programs could not move forward due to high rates of insecurity perpetuated by armed men. 

This practical decision by Eastern Equatoria state should be a clarion call to the President and the entire leadership to do something tangible on the reunification of forces in the country so as to arrest this menace once and for all.

The Writer is the Chairman of Liech Community Association in Kenya; the views expressed here are his own and he can be reached for comments via eligodakb@yahoo.com 

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