By Elhag Paul
April 2, 2014 (SSNA) — The solution to the gross failure of governance in RSS is simply not only a problem of replacing President Salva Kiir with other SPLM leaders. It goes further than that. It entails honesty and the ‘will’ to confront the reality of the ugly things that have taken place in the country in order to set South Sudan on the right track under the most suitable leaders. For this to happen there needs to be a genuine acceptance from all the South Sudanese political actors, especially those participating in the peace talks in Addis Ababa; the mediators and the international community to face the truth that the real problem of South Sudan is SPLM itself.
The people of South are in the mess they are in today because of the SPLM. It is a destructive organisation. The deep social, economic and political problems of South Sudan have their roots in the ugly culture of the SPLM, its amorphous structures, tribalism, absence of positive values and the lack of duty of care.
The IGAD mediators appear to be ignorant of the SPLM as an organisation and its ability to constantly produce chaos. Surely, if IGAD has had any idea, its mediators would not be recommending the group of seven senior SPLM leaders bailed to Kenya for leadership of the country in the interim period.
According to Upper Nile Times IGAD ‘ proposed an interim government that shall run for 3 years, and headed by a neutral body preferably from the group of 7 former detainees whom have been recently rejected by the government delegation as "not part of the conflict".’ http://upperniletimes.net/details/668
This is a gross error of judgement from the mediators and a display of ignorance about South Sudan political problems that the IGAD is supposed to know and address. If ignorance is not an issue here then collusion is, in which case SPLM in Opposition stance is vindicated. Riek’s group has consistently spoken about the double standards of IGAD. On one hand it is a neutral mediator and on the other it is a warring party in the conflict on the side of South Sudan government through Uganda armed forces. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50448 The question then is: how can IGAD be an impartial, objective and a fair body in brokering peace in South Sudan?
Why have the South Sudanese demanded for an interim period in the mediation talks? With all the tragic background of ethnic cleansing conducted by president Kiir and the SPLM itself, South Sudanese painfully see the talks as a unique opportunity to put things right in the country. The over whelming majority of South Sudanese want to see all those who have driven the country to the gutters relieved from their positions for a fresh group of leaders to takeover and rescue the country. It is about a new conscious political blood taking over to end the culture of militarism and impunity once and for all to enable a lasting peace and prosperity in South Sudan and the region. The Blue Prints for such a government fortunately have been submitted to IGAD already by the various South Sudanese professional sand Equatorian stakeholders. If IGAD wants to succeed in brokering a lasting peace, then it must look at these documents again.
Given the foregoing, IGAD should not even think of proposing an SPLM government, leave alone one of their leaders whether they be from Kiir’s group, or Riek’s group or the group of seven for the interim period. This act in itself is not only undemocratic but is silences the voices of the people and shuts out the wishes of South Sudanese people. IGAD is supposed to be a forum where South Sudanese begin to exercise their democratic rights to solve their problems and not an instructive and prescriptive forum. Is it acceptable for any of the so called group of 7 leaders to manage the country in the interim period? To do justice to them it is only fair to justify why they would not be acceptable to South Sudanese.
It is highly debatable whether any of these ‘leaders’ can make a change as the problem is one of culture of SPLM as an organisation. The attributes of this organisation does not give any hope. For example, SPLM/A is imbued with violence, corruption, lawlessness, extreme discrimination, tribalism, impunity and so on. These attributes over the past three decades have become ingrained in the psyche of all the SPLM members and their organisation. What is remarkable is that in SPLM’s entire life span no one has challenged the practice of abuse of power and human rights in the organisation. All the rebellions in this organisation are related to the issue of self determination and access to power. Strangely no one in this organisation is concerned about abuse of governance and human rights. This is a topic by itself which we shall soon have to deal with. Each SPLM group uses the word democracy to either entrench itself in power or to gain it. Rebecca Nyandeng was honest when se said, "We talk of democracy but we do not know, what shape of that animal it is and we run away when we see it." The word democracy thus to them is a vehicle to achieve ends but in reality none of them truly believe in it. So what they all know very well is authoritarianism.
The negative attributes of this organisation is deeply ingrained in its structures. The members do not know anything other than the SPLM way. Yet it is the SPLM way that has driven the country to the current chaos and if not stopped it will drive the country to total destruction. Hence, the support for the group of seven SPLM leaders by IGAD for leadership of the country does not hold any rational or justification. None of these people has the qualities of leadership. None has demonstrated appropriate leadership in protecting the resources and people of South Sudan since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement came in operation in 2005.
Additionally, it must be remembered that SPLM is the main generator of the problems and as it is the crucial part of the problems it can not be impartial. The inescapable truth is that the SPLM leaders (of the various factions and the warring ones now) collectively and individually failed the people of South Sudan.
For the sake of clarity let us look at the group of seven individually in a brief manner.
John Luke – he is the architect of the tyrannical constitution that president Kiir is using freely now to oppress and discriminate the people. He contested the April 2010 general election but he failed. His own constituency had no confidence in him. President Kiir at the time was his friend. As a result president Kiir imposed him on the electorate by appointing him into the parliament as an MP. President Kiir further rewarded him with a ministerial position as minister of justice. In his tenure he swore never to see anyone investigated for corruption. Please see, ‘President Kiir’s pedantic tricks in the SPLM Oyee machine.’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201306270034.html?viewall=1
Ahmed Alor – he is the cog that ensured the tyrannical system ran smoothly in the interest of the Jieng. As a cabinet minister, he initiated jointly with Sadiq El Mahadi of the Umma Party the sell out of South Sudan through the ‘four freedoms’ which later got planted into the cooperation agreement with the Sudan. Please see, ‘Smeagol wooing the blind Oyee party: the “four freedoms” in favour of Arab Sudan.’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/smeagol-wooing-the-blind-oyee-party-the-qfour-freedoms-in-favor-of-arab-sudan Ahmed is untrustworthy due to his history, and worse still he is a master of corruption.
Gier Chuang – as a commander during the war with Khartoum he is alleged to have executed children by firing squad without any due process. The crime of his victims was desertion from front line. What a callous commander! As a minister of interior he oversaw the rampant mushrooming of crimes throughout the country. He allowed Arthur Akuen Chol, the then minister of finance to break free from detention without ensuring prosecution of the same for crimes against the state. Neither Chol nor the thugs who violently freed him were arrested for violation of the law and state properties. To date these thugs are free. Chuang and Kuol Manyang Juuk triggered the bloody rebellion of Gen. George Athor because they simply hated the late Athor’s guts. Chuang like Ahmed Alor is a master of corruption.
Tong Mayay – the dismissed governor of Lakes State. He was legitimately elected to the gubernatorial post. However, he failed to govern the state appropriately. As a result Lakes State was unsafe and next to Jonglei on matters of law and order. Like his colleagues, he too was corrupt and nepotistic.
Kosti Manibe – he contested for an MP seat in the April 2010 general elections but he failed. He was appointed into the parliament by president Kiir and later appointed minister of finance. His only crime is not to speak out at all, not even in self defence. Kosti is guilty by association. He allowed himself to be used and abused by the system.
Cirino Hiteng – has no constituency support. Former minister of Sports and culture. Cirino was imposed on the people by the late Dr John Garang and later on by president Kiir. Used by the system. Cirino is alleged to be involved in massive corruption.
Madut Biar Yel – former minister of telecommunication. Yel is a committed member of the SPLM. Like the others he is allegedly nepotistic and corrupt.
From this sketchy description of the group of 7, it is clear they do not have what it takes to be leaders for this current tumultuous South Sudan. They can not be substitute leaders. They do not also have what it takes to rescue South Sudan from the current serious problems they created. So business as usual is unacceptable simply because SPLM as an organisation has no workable structures like other healthy organisations to sense, feel and restrain itself as demonstrated by its three decades of existence. It has already been established that SPLM is a pathological organisation that is now in a state of self destruction.
Thus it is incapable of change. SPLM will need years of intensive internal reform to heal itself. Therefore, it can not lead or manage South Sudan without endangering itself, the country and the neighbouring countries. For this reason it should do the honourable thing – bow out of the interim period.
Therefore, the solution as stated above lies in new blood. The Former Presidential Advisor Tijwok Agwet who is now with the SPLM in Opposition argues that the Equatorians should rise to the challenge and assume power. https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/politics-more-defections-machar-group
Who then are some of the people who might be deemed capable to lead South Sudan out of the current mess? After careful survey of the political space of South Sudan so far there are five suitable candidates for the interim period. These are, Justice Peter Sule, Hon. Dr Richard Mulla, Dr Luara Nyantung, Bishop Paride Taban and Dr Olivia Lomoro. Other suitable candidates include Dr Lam Akol, and Gen. Alfred Ladu Gore and many more. Unfortunately the latter two current associations with the SPLM disqualify them from the interim period for the reasons already given. Nevertheless they should consider to throw-in their hats into the ring after the interim period.
Any of the suggested 5 without doubt will be acceptable to the majority of South Sudanese as interim leader of the country due to their varied contributions, extensive professional experiences in the world of work, education and standing in the society as a whole. For the sake of proper political reform, peace, prosperity and good neighbourliness IGAD should look towards these gentlemen and gentle ladies as a solution.
Therefore the mechanism for realisation of an interim government led by any of these competent individuals requires the full operation of the concept of stakeholder participation. Fortunately enough this is already agreed in principle by African Union and IGAD in their various communiqués. What is needed now is for IGAD and the international community to facilitate the attendance of all the stakeholders in South Sudan and in the Diaspora to partake in the talks in Addis Ababa to make their choice of the interim government. This is not too much to ask for given the fact that IGAD is already funding the parties currently in Addis Ababa and what the people of South Sudan are asking for is equal treatment of all the stakeholders.
IGAD should invite all the publicly known political parties individually to join the talks in Addis Ababa without any obstacles placed on their path by the government of president Kiir. After all both president Kiir and Dr Riek claim to be democrats. Further the people of South Sudan except the SPLM genuinely are committed to have a democratic system in the country. So in order for democracy to be realised in South Sudan its implementation should start with the talks in Addis Ababa.
The principles of democracy should be applied in these talks. Which means all the stakeholders must not be constrained in any way by the government of president Kiir or IGAD itself. The various political parties must be free to travel between Juba and Addis Ababa. They must also be free to express themselves without fear.
Unless this is done, the outcome of Addis Ababa talks will be a farce and it will not be long before another catastrophe hits the country. At the moment, president Kiir’s government has terrorised all the leaders of the other parties in South Sudan to be represented by two persons within the government delegation with clear instruction to tow the government line. How is this democracy? This is not acceptable and it amounts to kick in the teeth. For SPLM to gag political leaders in this way beggars believe. The African Union and IGAD must not accept this kind of behaviour from people who call themselves democrats.
In conclusion IGAD should now abandon its support for any SPLM leaders for the interim period for the reasons given above. It should listen to what South Sudanese want which again has been clearly stated in this piece. The success of brokering a peace in the country demands the inclusion of all the stakeholders without fail to make the choice of the interim leadership. For this reason it becomes extremely imperative that the participation of all the stakeholders must become a high priority. In doing this, democratic values must be applied in full as the starting point of introducing genuine democracy in South Sudan.
Anything less than this is unacceptable. The colossal loss of lives and displacement of nearly a million citizens was created by the SPLM and it is unacceptable to allow SPLM to obstruct the participation of stakeholders in solving the mess they created. It is high time that the Troika and the UN take a lead role in putting these talks back on track. Alternatively they should transfer these talks to a new body if IGAD is struggling to be impartial.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].