March 26, 2014(Addis Ababa) — Oyet Nathaniel Pierino, a former lecturer in political science at the University of Juba, has now joined SPLM/A-in-Opposition in Addis Ababa.
In an interview, he explains the reasoning behind his move and argues that the conflict is largely a crisis of leadership. He says that if the president steps down today, the opposition will immediately stop fighting.
Both sides to the conflict in South Sudan have signed a ceasefire, but the mediation blames them both for ‘flagrant’ violations of the ceasefire, according to a statement yesterday. Negotiations between the two sides resumed Tuesday, but fighting has continued.
Why did you decide to join SPLM in opposition?
I joined SPLM/A in opposition not just as an individual but as a group from Equatoria under my leadership because of the failure of leadership of President Salva Kiir. He has become terrible dictator and fascist. Kiir has failed first of all to provide peace dividend to South Sudanese.
President Kiir abused his powers by breaking the constitution, by interfering with independence of the judiciary. In 2011 he dismissed the chief justice and appointed another one. He dismissed three governors and appointed new ones thought they were elected.
I cannot be ruled by a bloodthirsty president. He further promoted sectarianism within the SPLA ranks and files. He is now pursuing a path of isolating South Sudan from the international community by attacking international community especially the UN, AU, EU, etc calling them to leave the country. Nobody organized a coup in South Sudan.
If President Kiir says coup has taken place in South Sudan, he is the one who organized it by attempting to disarm his bodyguards who were Nuer, dissolving SPLM party and arresting the leaders. He has now effectively placed the country under state of emergency and suspended the operation of the constitution and placed the country under foreign military rule and dictatorship.
Will you have any role in the peace talks?
Definitely, directly or indirectly I will have a role in the peace talks. First of all as one of the leaders of a popular resistance and a freedom fighter I will use my force to ensure that President Salva Kiir negotiates not just an end to the war but also an end to his leadership and the system he has created which people do not want. He has committed genocide, he has lost his legitimacy. I fight to hold him accountable whether through peace talks or on the battlefield.
War and negotiation to me serve the same purpose. The forces we have at our back are a deterrent to President Kiir’s further perpetuation of Dinkaism ideology and fascism and will effectively put the system he created to a quick end. People should not panic – the war will not last long because we have the capability to end it on a just term. We need good peace. It is not just about ending the war but addressing the fundamental causes that triggered the war.
What do you think will resolve the crisis in South Sudan?
If President Kiir steps down today we will stop fighting and begin an inclusive negotiation of acomplete overhaul of the system he created for the last nine years. We need new governmentwith new and a federal constitution, in which power shall be vested in the people, not a singleman who used it arbitrarily through senseless decrees.
And if President Kiir insists to remain inpower against the people’s will, him and his group will not only be pushed out by force but alsopursue them anywhere they will be. We cannot return to the status quo, never. That will meanpeople who lost their lives in struggle since 1955-1972, 1975-1982, 1983-2005, and now from2013 up to date would have died amiss. He has committed genocide, he should account for it.
What do you think about the IGAD’s decision to deploy regional forces in South Sudan?
What is being call PDF (Protection, Deterrent Force) will never work. This is unacceptable development in the mediation process. First of all, agreement should never be imposed on parties. Mutual agreement would be implemented voluntarily by parties.
Instead of being seen as part of the problem, IGAD should concentrate on building trust, confidence among the warring parties. If they insist on this force, we are ready to protract the war by hibernating into the bushes of South Sudan and we will also invite our friends in the region and let IGAD come and fight us. IGAD now is fast losing its neutrality.
We have been giving IGAD benefit of doubt but the decision now they have taken will have ramifications and we will not hesitate to look for a neutral mediator if that becomes necessary so that IGAD members states can join the war on the side they want.
How do you assess the humanitarian situation at the UN camps given the fact that conflict is continues and innocent people are dying. What is your take on that?
We have dire humanitarian situations especially with those displaced in the bush and UNMISS camp. People live in squalid conditions as if they are stateless. President Kiir’s forces continue to pursue them there and calling them rebels.
He even wants the IDPs released in his hand so that he can finish them. That is why he is calling for UNMISS to leave the country and he has now put them under target by inciting the armed forces and his militias as well as the general public against the UNMISS, we condemn this act in strongest term possible.
Any loss or casualties suffered by UNMISS President Kiir should held responsible. He is very comfortable with the suffering of the Nuer women and children in the UNMISS camps. There is a need for food supply, medicine, clean water and shelter to the hundreds of thousands of displaced in the shortest run while in the long run they need to be re located, resettled and reintegrated to their original lives in society.
Is there any call you want to make to the international community?
Yes, they should stop the flow of the oil because it is being used for financing mercenaries andwar. There is blood oil now flowing in South Sudan. Another option is to allow the oil to flow butthe money should not be used by the government – or us – until such a time just peace comes. Ifthey want structural changes in the government of South Sudan, they should add incentives forthe government to adhere to inclusive and comprehensive negotiations on all aspects.
What do you say about forming an interim government in South Sudan?
It is a must. If negotiation should be conclusive, President Kiir should step aside immediately. It is non-negotiable. President Kiir is the symbol of the status quo; those who want peace in South Sudan should advise him to step down. President Kiir and his government have squandered their legitimacy, mandate of protecting the people and committed genocide.
They have also lost control of the entire Upper Nile region and part of Equatoria region. Why should they continue ruling and imposing their will on the people of South Sudan without their consent. We need interim neutral administration without Kiir. Of course we will negotiate the mechanism and modality of interim administration which shall include anybody who will participate in the interim administration will not take part in any elections in the country.
Do you suggest the interim government excludes Salva and Riek?
President Kiir can never be part of the interim government – he had enough time to display his leadership but he proved himself incapable. He now rules under the direct order and command of President Museveni.
Of course, Dr. Riek and I believe in democracy, whether through military triumph in Juba, there will be an interim administration and we will hold elections in the shortest time possible to seek mandate and consent of the people of South Sudan and if the people will not give Dr. Riek mandate he will go home and the nation continues, as simple as that.
Courtesy of Radio Tamazuj!
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