By CDE MABIOR GARANG de MABIOR,
August 15, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– The leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (In Opposition) would like to set the record straight regarding the return to armed conflict in South Sudan. The SPLM/SPLA – In Opposition (IO) is deeply disappointed in the lack of political will exhibited by the SPLM/SPLA (In Government), which has led to the collapse of the peace process and a return to armed conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. This resumption of conflict started on July 8th, 2016; with the Transitional Government of National Unity effectively being overthrown.
The recent events that took place in South Sudan, from July 8th, 2016 – must be understood in the context of the entire peace process:
The negotiations of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) has been characterized by an incredible lack of political will on the side of our partners and this has been shown by:
- The SPLM/SPLA (IO) started negotiations with SPLM/SPLA (IG) on the January 4th, 2014; and by January 23rd the warring parties signed a Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) Agreement. The forces could have been separated and cantoned at this time and peace could have been achieved more rapidly.
- The forces of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) where in all the major towns of Unity State, Upper Nile State, and some of Jong’lei State at the time of the signing of the CoH Agreement. The forces of the SPLM/SPLA (IG); however, disregarded the January 23rd CoH Agreement and went on an all-out offensive. This blatant violation led to an IGAD Summit in which the warring parties rededicated themselves to the CoH Agreement on May 9th, 2014.
- Then President Salva Kiir declared upon his return at Juba International Airport: “I signed the Agreement under duress”. Instead of containing the conflict, the conflict spread to the other regions of South Sudan; namely Greater Bhar el Gazal and Greater Equatoria.
- The President refused to sign the ARCISS on August 17th, 2015; despite the fact that it was signed by all the stakeholders including South Sudanese Civil Societies and the Mediators as guarantors.
- The President; instead, signed the Executive Order 36/2015 (known as the 28 States), in contradiction to the Agreement. The President would later sign the ARCISS on August 22nd, 2015 – but with
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The SPLM/SPLA (IG) led by President Salva Kiir continued to show this lack of political will during the implementation process. This is why the Mediators had to suggest the provisions of the ARCISS be circumvented; in order to prevent the Agreement from premature collapse. The SPLM (IO) was forced to go to Juba to implement the ARCISS, despite the fact that Juba had not been demilitarized in accordance to the provisions of the Agreement, a central part to the security arrangements. The IG even tried to humiliate the First Vice President (FVP) Dr. Riek Machar by refusing to give him an office, in addition to this:
- The SPLM (IG) frustrated the process of establishment of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC)
- The NCAC would have initiated the process of expanding and reconstituting the parliament to include the other stakeholders in the ARCISS. This process would establish the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA);
- 4 The selection of the Speaker of the TNLA, who hails from Equatoria, shall be conducted once the expansion of the membership of the Assembly is complete. This has been blatantly violated by our partners;
- The NCAC would also initiate the processes for a constitutional amendment, to incorporate the ARCISS into the constitution for the transitional period;
- The Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) can only be formed after these processes are complete;
- The minutes of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements (PCTSA) Workshop, stipulate the total forces that shall constitute the Presidential Guards, Administration Battalion, Guards of Unified Shared Command, Military Police, National Security Services and Joint Integrated Police, numbering 2,910.
- The first group, constituting 1,370 troops arrived in Juba; however, the government denied travel to the remaining 1,540 to be transported. In violation of the ARCISS;
- In addition, the Security Arrangements of the ARCISS outlines the type of weapons issued to each squad and the SPLM/SPLA (in opposition); however, this also had to be renegotiated. In violation of the ARCISS;
- The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanisms (CTSAMM) was to verify the demilitarization of Juba before the arrival of the First Vice President Designate. This was also frustrated by our partners and the SPLM/SPLA (IO) was forced to go to Juba without its demilitarization, which led to the incidences of harassment at illegal SPLA (IG) check points. In violation of the ARCISS;
- The issue of Cantonment Areas, clearly stipulated in the ARCISS – Chapter II: Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Arrangements; however, this was made into a stumbling block by our partners in peace. In Article 2 it states:
- 1. The warring parties agree to the separation, assembly and cantonment of their forces previously in combat within thirty (30) days of the signing of this Agreement to enable personnel, weapons and equipment accountability, screening, re-organization and /or disarmament and demobilization. Forces in cantonment shall receive non-military logistical supply including food, shelter and access to medical care.
- 2. The warring parties agree that the forces that shall be cantoned shall be those forces previously in combat in Juba, Jong’lei, Unity, and Upper Nile States, and any other forces related to the conflict in other areas that are declared by the warring Parties during the Permanent Ceasefire Arrangements Workshop.
- The IG refused to accept cantonment areas for SPLM IO in Equatoria and Bhargazal, despite the fact that the areas proposed by the SPLM/SPLA IO had been declared at the PCTSA Workshop and was accepted by the warring parties.
LOU CLINIC – MILITARY CHECKPOINT INCIDENT. (JULY 7, 2016)
The events which led to the shootout at Lou Clinic Military Checkpoint on Gudele Road (07/07/2016) in Juba, must be understood in the context of this lack of political will by our partners to implement – Chapter II: Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements. This required Juba to be demilitarized and secured by a joint force under a joint military command. The SPLM/SPLA IO lost several officers after being arrested illegally by the Military Intelligence of the Forces of the IG. This insecurity is what led to the incidences on Gudele Road; the following is a summary of the security report issued by the SPLM/SPLA IO:
- At around 8:00 pm two cars from the guards of the FVP Dr. Riek Machar Teny took food to the soldiers guarding the office of the FVP Dr. Riek Machar Teny. The two cars, after dropping food, were driving back to Jebel Site area.
- The services car of the house of FVP Dr. Riek Machar Teny with only one driver was stopped by SPLA Military Police. The driver alerted the other car that his car was stopped by the SPLA.
- The other car stopped and the soldiers came out of the car and informed the SPLA Military Intelligent that the car they were searching belong to the FVP Dr. Riek Machar Teny together with this car and the soldiers are also guards of FVP Dr. Riek Machar Teny.
- The officer leading the SPLA Military Intelligent who stopped the car ordered his soldiers to “arrest all” and immediately the SPLA Military Intelligent responded by advancing to arrest and the SPLA IO started to pull back to their cars. All of a sudden the SPLA Military Intelligent fired at the SPLA IO soldiers.
- The shootout started there. 2 SPLA IO soldiers were wounded. 1 SPLA Military Intelligent was wounded and 4 SPLA Soldiers killed.
- In another note, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny at around 8:50 pm talked on the phone and agreed to appeal for calm and ordered the Generals from both sides to stop these incidents.
- Moreover, in another incident, at around 9:00 pm near the USA Embassy Residence at the Airport Road, a USA Embassy Bullet proof car with 7 Diplomats inside was sprayed with 50 rounds of bullets by the SPLA Soldiers. The Diplomats survived because of the car being armored.
THE STATE HOUSE (J1) SHOOTOUT
The following day the situation was very tense in Juba, the events leading to the J1 Shootout:
- The Regular Meeting of the Council of Ministers was cancelled and instead a separate meeting was held at J1 at the recommendation of the President’s security personnel.
- As the President, the First Vice President and the Vice President were meeting inside J1, their guards engaged in a gunfight outside (on the street and within the compound); all the body guards of the FVP outside were killed. It was only the close protection inside who survived, and managed to secure the FVP.
- The President, the First Vice President and the Vice President addressed the media immediately after the incident. They called a ceasefire and called on the civil population to be calm.
- The President stated in his address that they did not know what had happened outside; the President later changed his story and alleged that the FVP had a pistol and was trying to kill him and was trying to stage a coup.
- The President then formed an investigation committee to investigate what led to the gunfight outside J1. The team was headed by the (then) Minister of Interior – Gen. Alfred Lado Gore.
- The following day the ceasefire was violated and militias allied to the President attacked the cantonment areas of the SPLM/SPLA IO (with helicopter gunships and T-72 Tanks); the attack included the residence of the FVP, who was forced out of Juba by these events.
- Then to the bewilderment of the whole world, our partners in peace, whose allied forces attacked the FVP, issued a statement for the FVP to return within 48 Hours or face being replaced.
- The SPLM/SPLA IO has since been fighting a war of self-defense as the Chief of General Staff of the IG has ordered his militias to hunt down and assassinate the legitimate FVP of the TGONU.
- The failure of the warring parties to implement the security arrangements, the attack of SPLM/SPLA IO Cantonment areas across the country, culminating on the Juba attack which included the residence of the FVP; has led the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA IO to either flee Juba, or seek refuge in the UNMISS PoC’s.
- The absence of the SPLM/SPLA IO from the TGONU means that the current government in Juba is illegitimate.
THE CROWN HOTEL SHAM PROCESS AND DISMISSAL OF GEN. TABAN DENG
The attack on the cantonement areas of the SPLM/SPLA IO in Juba by our partners and the failure to implement the security arrangements of the ARCISS has led the leaders of the SPLM/SPLA IO to withdraw from Juba while others have sought refuge in the UNMISS PoC’s. The insecurity faced by SPLM/SPLA IO leaders after the collapse of the security arrangements, was not conducive for the leadership to sit. The process which was held at the Crown Hotel in Juba, which endorsed General Taban to replace the legitimate FVP was not only illegal, but was a conspiracy by anti-peace elements led by Gen. Taban Deng Gai, who was dismissed from the Movement days before he was illegally appointed by President Salva Kiir to his new Government.
The dismissal of Gen. Taban Deng Gai was on the following grounds:
- Under article 9 of the Constitution of the SPLM/SPLA IO, he was found to have failed to uphold duties and obligations by abiding by the Constitution itself, Internal Rules as well as Code of conduct. This provisions are read together with Rule 1.3.1 of the Internal Rules, 2015
- His dismissal came after he proved through the state owned (SSTV) showing that the current plot to topple the TGoNU was his idea as well as conspiring to assassinated Dr. Machar, the FVP so that the whole agreement is abrogated. And that was an adequate ground for a member of the SPLM/SPLA IO to lose his/her membership when he or she is found to be engaged in activities that undermine the objectives and policies of the movement, contrary to this Constitution, Code of Conduct, Internal Rules and Regulations. And as such, he was dismissed from SPLM/SPLA IO on 22/07/2016 before he completed his plot to illegally take over the leadership of SPLM/SPLA IO. Therefore, whatever, he and his anti-peace group have done will remain null and void as long as it is inconsistent with the Peace Agreement. This provision is read together with rule 1.4.7 of the same Internal Rules.
- Taban Deng Gai has been found by the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA IO to have engaged in a series of serious offences contrary to section 14 of the Code of Conduct, 2015 of the SPLM/SPLA IO, on the following grounds by:
- Waging or conspiring to wage an armed opposition against the movement as well as assassinate its leadership;
- Violation of the SPLM/SPLA IO Constitution, basic documents and disobedience of orders from the movement leadership;
- Collaborating with:
- the movement’s adversary and in particular with IG Leadership to abrogate peace agreement and return the country back to war;
- the IG leadership who have seriously interfered with the work of the movement and attempted to prevent it from fulfilling its mission and objectives by waging and attempting to assassinate its leader and forcing him to leave for Gen. Taban Deng Gai to illegally replace him;
- Sabotaging and making negative agitation against the SPLM/SPLA IO;
- Divulging or disclosing of the movement’s secrets;
- Supporting acts not authorized by the movement and which are detrimental to the movement, for example, by rejecting the very fundamental component of the peace agreement like, security arrangement, ten states, institutional reforms as well as accountability (hybrid court) among other things;
- Participating in organized factional activity that goes beyond the recognized norms of free debate inside the movement and threatens its unity;
- Behaviors which brings the movement into disrupt or which manifests a flagrant violation of the moral integrity expected of members or conduct unbecoming of a member;
- Spreading rumors with the intention of creating conflict and division within the movement;
- Negative criticism of the movement in public and defamation and character assassination to the SPLM/SPLA IO leader.
- On Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan – Gen. Taban Deng Gai has violated the very agreement he had negotiated. Under clause 4 of Chapter I: “In the event that the post of the First Vice President falls vacant during the Transitional period, for any reason including mental infirmity or physical incapacity of the office holder, the replacement shall be nominated by the top leadership body of the South Sudan Armed Opposition as at the signing of the Agreement. Such a process of replacement shall not exceed forty-eight (48) hours. The successor as the First Vice President shall serve in office until the end of the Transitional Period.”
The issue here is whether the First Vice President post has fallen vacant? Reading the above-quoted provision it is clear that the provision is talking about permanent vacancy of the FVP’s post; the phrase: “for any reason” may including death and resignation which are not explicitly mention under the same provisions. Issue of mental infirmity and physical incapacity are not relevant to this situation. Considering the circumstances in which the FVP was attacked and later force out of Juba under a heavy fire by militias allied to individual Generals (in IG) – with T-72 and gunship helicopter and as a result his residence was completely destroyed. Therefore, such a situation does not fall under Clause 6.4 and hence the FVP post is not vacant because what has happened is the collapse of the TGoNU.
Under Clause 6.5 of the same Chapter: “In the event of temporary absence of the First Vice President, the First Vice President may delegate a senior South Sudan Armed Opposition Minister to carry out functions and duties as stipulated in this Agreement.”
This temporary absence for example, is like a foreign trip to which the FVP may spend some days, so in that case he has a prerogative or discretion power to delegate his functions and powers to a senior South Sudan Armed Opposition. This situation is not applicable to Gen. Taban Deng Gai – as he was dismissed before being crowned in Crown Hotel in Juba.
In light of the above, the leadership of SPLM/SPLA IO is convinced that Gen. Taban Deng Gai has violated SPLM/SPLA IO Constitution, Internal Rules and Code of Conduct and as a result he was dismissed and whatever he is doing is illegal considering he is no longer a member of SPLM/SPLA IO, second – he has proved to work for abrogation of the Peace Agreement by denouncing the key components of the ARCISS (i.e. Security arrangements, Accountability for crimes committed, institutional reforms etc.).
THE WAY FORWARD
The leadership of the SPLM/SPLA IO under Dr. Riek Machar (the legitimate FVP) is calling on the region and international community not to recognize the coup against TGoNU. The leadership of the SPLM/SPLA IO further urge the region and international community to expedite interventional forces under the UN revised mandate such that Peace Agreement does not derail into a full scale of war in the country.
The SPLM/SPLA IO leadership welcomes the decisions of the IGAD, AU and the UNSC (Draft) Resolution 2304; which is in line with the call of the FVP. The FVP will only return to Juba to commence the true implementation of the ARCISS when the conducive security environment is guaranteed. This will also create a conducive security environment that will facilitate the smooth implementation of the Agreement, as the warring parties have failed to implement the security arrangements.
The SPLM/SPLA IO believes in the spirit of the ARCISS as the only solution to the conflict in South Sudan. The Movement calls on the region and the world, to expedite this process of intervention/protection so that we can rescue the suffering people of South Sudan; who’s suffering is compounded by a complete breakdown of law and order all over the country. This is evident by the increase of violence which has even reached the UNMISS PoC’s and looting of humanitarian relief intended for vulnerable people.
The SPLM/SPLA in Opposition reiterates its full commitment to the implementation of the ARCISS and our appeal to the region and the world to expedite the process of intervention/protection. The Movement also takes this opportunity to assert our natural right of self-defense and our capability to restore law and order in the country, in the event that there is no intervention and continued offensive by our partners.
CDE MABIOR GARANG de MABIOR (CHAIRMAN)
SPLM NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR INFORMATION AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
+254 717 293 583