H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat
Chairperson, African Union Commission
African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
By Henry Odwar,
SPLM-IO Deputy Chairman
April 17, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– On 29 January, 2017, in a joint Press Statement prepared by the AU, IGAD and the UN after consultations on South Sudan, the AU High Representative for South Sudan, former President Alpha Oumar Konaré, was tasked to undertake active shuttle diplomacy with the goal of ensuring inclusivity in the National Dialogue and the rekindling of the ARCISS implementation, in close consultation with the JMEC Chairperson, the UN, AU and IGAD.
Chairman, it has become apparent that ARCISS is dead and the National Dialogue (ND) is plagued with several neonatal disorders. Even if the ND were to be in a neonatal incubator, SPLM/A-IO is on record noting that such an initiative must be within ARCISS (see Chairman Machar’s 18 December AP interview) – that is to say ARCISS must be implemented first, and to be followed by ND as an implementable item within it.
SPLM/A-IO perceived the authorisation of President Konaré to carry out diplomacy entailing engagement of all stakeholders to the conflict in South Sudan (SPLM/A-IO), Government, G10, and other opposition parties/groups) and reporting outcomes to the Triad (AU, UN and IGAD) – as a positive step, so that a roadmap for peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan is developed and agreed upon by – all – involved South Sudanese parties.
Since his acceptance to carry out shuttle diplomatic diplomacy, President Konaré visited South Sudan in March 2017. While in Yei, President Konaré had this to say:
“… and also we cannot go into a meaningful national dialogue without including Dr. Riek Machar in the peace process. This carries no sense without the participation of Riek Machar, and in this case, we need the participation of all leaders to the crisis in the country”.
In spite of his observation, Mr. Konaré has not made an effort to reach the SPLM/A-IO. This leads us to an interpretation that the AU through its High Representative seems inclined to think that ARCISS may go ahead without the main armed opposition (JMEC has done such since July 2016).
Chairman Mahamat, even with the observations made by President Konaré, the peace guarantors, namely the AU, UN and IGAD continue to issue statements without mention of the Opposition and its tens of thousands of soldiers; and if there is an attempt to mention us, it is done in an insouciant manner. For example, the recent IGAD Communiqué of 27 March, 2017 includes the following phrases:
“… announce a unilateral ceasefire…”; “… grant amnesty to those that renounced violence… ”; “… proliferation of armed groups… ”; “… all factions to immediately stop the fighting… ”; “… all actors to join in the national dialogue…”; “… ensure that their territories (South Sudan and Sudan) are not used by any armed groups …”; “… ensure … the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) …”; “… all parties to fully commit to the implementation of the ARCSS …”, etc.
All the phrases contained in the articles of the Communiqué ring hollow if ARCISS is not implemented in letter and spirit of the law.
The non-implementation of ARCISS over the past months speaks loudly to its demise and can be seen in the following context within the actions of the AU, UN, IGAD and Troika:
- The main opposition (SPLM/ A-IO) has been kicked out of Juba under the very noses of IGAD, AU, UN and Troika. This quartet has gone ahead to recognise Kiir’s regime by co-opting into it Taban Deng Gai, a key conspirator in the demise of ARCISS, while breaking their historical grip on “democratic value seeding” of the world.
- The Former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, has reduced himself to an apologist of President Kiir’s regime, becoming its on-call proxy, carrying Kiir’s message to the Chairman of SPLM/A-IO in South Africa, for example of late, that IO declare a unilateral ceasefire, lay down its arms and join the National Dialogue. Chairman Mogae has clearly relinquished his role as a ‘neutral” arbiter as inked in the ARCISS.
- War, which was at one point confined to Upper Nile, is now raging in the entire Equatoria region and Western Bahr El Ghazal. The non-implementation of ARCISS has therefore exacerbated war in South Sudan.
- The genocide that the UN has warned about is in progress. From Unity State before ARCISS, to now in Equatoria. As part of ‘denial conditioning’ by the guarantors of ARCISS, a Troika envoy at a side-line meeting during the last AU summit in January 2017 adamantly stated that the death figures have not yet reached proportions of genocide. One may ask, what is the magic number of heinous killing/murders – based ethnicity, before such an event to be called genocidal.
- Humanitarian assistance is now being denied to reach the needy by Kiir’s regime. Verification of this has been carried by the UN itself. The population of South Sudan (estimated to be 12 million inhabitants) are in dire need of food/humanitarian aid yet his newfound concern for ‘famine’ is not credible, a word once forbidden to use by NGOs.
- Since the demise of ARCISS as of July 2016, more people have been displaced and are now internally displaced (in churches and UN POCs – more than 500,000) while more than 2,000,000 are refugees in neighbouring countries.
- Human rights abuses carried by Kiir’s forces are continually rising: burning people in their houses, rape, beatings and other abuses have been documented. Looting and destruction of properties of citizens go on with tacit approval of Kiir himself as availed by the outgoing British envoy, Morris … in his farewell address to a South Sudanese advocacy group on March 27, 2017 enumerated the following:
“….One quarter of the population of South Sudan displaced, over half needing humanitarian help, half the children of this country out of school. Vile human rights abuses have been and are being committed by people in uniform. There is in many parts of the country an apparent loss of control by Government or indeed anyone else outside our bubble here in Juba. There is famine, with 100,000 threatened. Thousands of South Sudanese are crossing the border every day. There is a man-made famine, and it is human actions which have displaced the people.”
Tim Morris continued….
“…….. sexual violence. This has been, and is, out of control. Thousands upon thousands of women have been raped by men in uniform – mothers, grandmothers, daughters. This in the midst of killings in communities, of innocent and children. Numerous reports testifies to this. I and others have met groups of women throughout the country who have suffered this.”
And he goes on to say….
“My Ministers have written to the highest offices (of Kiir’s regime). No reply. No action. Nothing. No senior commanders who have allowed their troops to do these things have been punished. That means responsibility goes to the top. I beseech the leaders of this country and of any group whose people have been guilty of these crimes to take action now. Not dark talk about unspecified executions, but clear prosecutions, discipline and orders; and an announced resolve that this dreadful crime will be stopped.”
In a statement, the UN lamented that:
“… 18,000 houses have been burned since 2013.”
- The current famine raging in South Sudan is government-made, one created by President Kiir and his forces going purposely from village to village making cultivation and life impossible.
- The detention of Dr. Riek Machar in South Africa, as well, is contrary to the letter and spirit of ARCISS, a debilitating act slowly sabotaging the peace agreement.
Mr. Chairman, ARCISS is dead.
The average South Sudanese continues to suffer daily under an illegitimate and irresponsible regime, as shown by events in Pajok village near the Uganda border, documented by the United Nations.
The time is now to shift from ARCISS and explore other avenues that can bring real lasting peace to South Sudan. Wishing the opposition away means that the AU shall have to provide President Kiir with extra soldiers to stand next to every blade of grass in South Sudan in order for him to subdue the opposition. That probability is impossible. So, under your watch as Chairman of the AU PSC, you have the mandate to bring profound lasting peace to South Sudan. I implore you using the weight of your office to do just that.
SPLM/A-IO Deputy Chairman
CC: Members of the Peace and Security Council
CC: Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights