By Kyaligonza Louis
December 30, 2013 (SSNA) — In a game of chess where the end game is to capture ones king to be declared winner there is also a draw where your opponent does not have your king in target and you can’t move your king or any other piece. This is sometimes a calculated scenario by the player who prefers a draw or a miscalculated blunder by the stronger opponent. Is the situation in South Sudan a stalemate with the players only options left are to sacrifice the pawns (South Sudanese)?
I guess not because a peaceful solution has been laid on the table and the two players through trusted sources have portrayed to the world that they are willing to talk so that this December 15th nemesis can be halted for a peaceful solution. United States Envoy Donald Booth said “President Kirr committed to me that he is ready to begin talks to end this crisis without pre conditions as soon as his counterpart is willing”. Dr Machar also told Reuters news that he was ready for dialogue but President Kirr must first release his detained political allies. Hild Johnson UNMISS spokesman said “They (Kirr and Machar do not want a further escalation of violence and they both said they want to have a dialogue and give peace a chance.” Till date the two have not sat yet despite the ultimatum given by IGAD. So why haven’t they sat to talk?
The answer to that is President Kirr wants unconditional talks and Dr Machar wants the detained prisoners to be released before dialogue, hence the continued pawn sacrificing stalemate that is leaving many homeless, dead and the country on a brink of civil war that can be weighed on recta scale of Somalia and Rwanda.
Former south African president the late Nelson Mandela once said “only freemen can negotiate, prisoners cannot enter into contracts” President Kirr’s government confirmed it had detained 11 politicians loyal to Dr machar, US envoy Donald Booth said he saw the prisoners and that “they are secure and well take care of” he later said that “that it is my expectation that once they are released they will participate in a constructive manner in the efforts to bring about peace and resolve the political issues that sparked the conflict”.
I question the legality of these leaders being held incommunicado, without any formal hearing or trial. President Kirr and his allies have to understand south Sudan and the rest of the world are under the umbrella of international law, South Sudan is privy the Banjul chatter that recognizes most of universally accepted civil and political rights, Article 5 of the chatter provides for rights to due process of arrest and punishment, the chatter also provides for a right to a fair trial which involves among others a right to be informed of your crime, the right to be heard, right legal counsel and most of all the writ to habeas corpus (free the body). President Kirr’s government holding these politicians is total abuse of human rights, that is their freedom of movement, freedom of speech and the right to a fair trial that has to be condemned by all relevant human rights stakeholders from the United Nations, African Union, East African Community, and IGAD among others. The fact that all these Alphabets have not come out to denounce and condemn these actions raises a question of their integrity and commitment to put South Sudan out of this political turmoil. It also sets a precedent of impunity when it comes to handling dictatorial regimes.
These acts of condoning human rights violations raises the question of whether the world and President Kirr’s government are prepared to practice the letter and spirit of Article 9 (3) of South Sudan interim Constitution which clearly says “all rights and freedoms enshrined in the international human rights treaties, covenants and instruments by the republic of South Sudan shall be an integral part of the bill.” The world should stand firm and call on the government of South Sudan to release the political prisoners and if there is evidence of any criminal activities that the politicians got involved in they should prosecuted but not be held illegally. Or else what president kirr is saying is that Mr Machar succeeded in his alleged coup and deposed off the judicial arm of government.
President kirr’s government is showing signs of a failed state in South Sudan. Any competent government has to observe the strictest human rights principles to be observed by the state which is the “due process of the law” that is the right to be treated fairly, efficiently and effectively by the administration of justice through the courts of law. Or else what president kirr’s declaration of a state of emergency should be interpreted as lawlessness in South Sudan.
In conclusion although South Sudan has not ratified the universal declaration of Human Rights it has ratified notable bodies such as the United Nations and African Union, it is legally and equitably bound to by UDHR principles so the government has to act on them. Although the African Union cannot entertain an unconstitutional overthrow of a government as it did on Egypt meaning its member states should be against Marchar’s alleged coup attempt which is disputed by experts and Dr Machar himself, given the circumstances it should also come out and condemn President Kirr’s actions against human rights so as to prove to its beneficiaries that it does not only have a hard spot for coups but also a hard heart for government violation of human rights. Not only the UN was caught off guard Kirr’s government too made a grave political blunder in arresting these influential politicians which escalated the power struggle that has settled in a bloody stalemate.
The Author is a Ugandan Media, legal and political research consultant, a graduate of law from Makerere University.