South Sudan needs peace and dialogue without President Kiir to move forward

By Chap Phan

April 10, 2014 (SSNA) — Little has been achieved since the beginning of peace talks and as of April 4th, 2014 the ongoing peace talk in Addis Ababa has stalled; Salva Kiir’s administration is impeding the progress.

The ongoing crisis in South Sudan, although begins as a political struggle, because of ethnic feud and past grudges, Nuer civilians were massacred from Dec 15th -19th simple because they are from Nuer ethnic group; the first 500 people killed in the first days are exclusively from Nuer tribe, many of sub-dinka tribe, the Bor community, experienced destruction of properties and revenge attacks few days later.   

Professor David De Chan has put the aggregate numbers of Nuer killed at 17,613 and well over million people are displaced, according to United Nations; in Juba alone an estimated 28, 000 are trapped in the UN camps; many of these people are Nuer women and children that are separated from their families.  With deep mistrust and the horror remembering of Salva Kiir’s henchmen, they have lost faith on current government and therefore are forced to live in hard conditions with limited access to food, basic health needs, and  a constant fear of being kills by the supposedly government soldiers.   More innocent civilians will keep dying in days and months to come given the ongoing rainy season.   

The ongoing death of civilians in South Sudan must stop and can only ends if the current leadership does the right thing-step down.   There is no need to dwells on the genesis of the crisis; rather we should looks on how to get ourselves out from this nonsense death of civilians.  

Kirr’ administration has no credibility, and should not be expected to change overnight. The senseless killing of civilians, although deepened in Dec. 15th 2013, started before the December 15th 2013 event. The death of political commentator Isaiah Abraham (Dec. 2012), the death of Sgt. Banyjiath Mathoat Tap (March 2013), the deliberated killing of over 200 innocent civilians and burning of 780 homes in Unity State- Mayom County (May 2011) are cases in point. No justice has been served for the mentioned crimes; the government is simply not committed to the rule of law.   

Future forward 

It is clear that Salva kiir government will not win over Dr. Riek militarily despites the help of Uganda military, and Dr. Riek had made it clear that he does not intend to work under president kirr anymore, this suggest that the best way to end this crisis is to have an interim administration excluding the two principals.

South Sudan does not belong to kiir alone or his henchmen, or political elite.  Kirr need to own this crisis and must accept the fact that he has failed to lead this nation-he should simply step down. Kirr is the one who invoked 1991 incident in his speech during the conference in Dec 14th 2013 that was supposed to be party discussion for the future, the conference turned out to be political retaliation against Nuer population in Juba. Kiir is the one who postponed SPLM Party’s Convention for fears of losing the party’s chairman, not to mention the fact that he ignored many requests for internal reform by then SPLM general secretary.

Government needs to put a real perspective on pending demands.

Kiir has lost touch with reality, as evidenced by his unfounded coup narrative, and his non-responsive to the ongoing demands. Imposing preconceived- irrational and non-founded coup upon the world is self-defeating; it discredits everything government stands to achieve.  Kirr government was elected by the people, but the government had not deliver anything to the people, rather the government delivered ethnic cleansing to Nuer population in Juba, the government has lost it legitimacy in the broader Nuer community.

This crisis have deepen feud between Drinka and Nuer community, a national reconciliation is highly needed. But this reconciliation process needs a legitimate government, not same government that murdered one tribe.  South Sudan needs a new constitution that empowered people and that ensure fair and balance between states and the central government, but it cannot be entrust to same government that has poor performance on all performance metrics. A credible national reconciliation process will requires a creditable body.

This is a defining movement for all South Sudanese to send a clear message to politicians that they cannot support person that put self- interest before the people’s interest. This message is important because it will set precedent for the future leaders and the kind of leadership South Sudanese should support.  That is, the best way to discourages future mass killing, like what happened in Juba on Dec 15th, is to forced current leadership to resign.

Who should South Sudanese entrust with interim government?

It is a challenge to come up with candidates that are not part of the ongoing conflict and candidates that are not associated with past misgivings; remembered the list of accused 14 senior SPLM leaders. We are essentially left with little choice but to choose from the second best.

I have identified two teams that are equally capable, the first team would probably follow a predictable path, and second team would probably changes the culture of status quo in government.

The sequential choice is James Wandi Iggi, the current vice president, he should take over as the interim president and Hussein Mar, the former acting governor of Jongler State, now on rebel side, should deputized James Wandi.  Wandi team would probably prioritized good polices that have long term solation given that he is an insider and have better understanding on worldview. Wandi is SPLA veteran who knows his way around the party system and trained Economist; he has good understanding on pressing demands. Wandi team would provide a degree of continuity to extend possible.

A more progressive choice is Dr.Joseph Nyuen Monytuel, the current caretaker governor of Unity State; he can be substituted in as interim president and can be deputized by Former South Sudan environment minister, now on rebel side, Alfred Lado Gore.   Dr.Monytuel is medical doctor by training and does not assess politics as the only option; thus he would probably exited power when time comes. His administration would probably deliver real results-road network and reduces corruption to extend possible. He is well known for his hard work and determination to improve basic service delivery, he was once a health minister at GOSS and gained high praises across tribal lines for his high performance.

Again, none of these candidates are perfect per se; they have strengths and weaknesses like anyone we know. The four people mentioned have been blasted on all sides.  for instance, Equatorians viewed Wandi  as too soft and less dynamic while Dr. Monytuel is perceived to be indifferent toward the suffering of his community that are in misery conditions  in capital Juba. Dr. Monytuel has moderate political, diplomatic, and communication exposures compared to wandi, but Dr. Monytuel is low drama and highly practical manager.  

In all, the mentioned candidates can be mixed and matched as desired, they will bring deep experience and they are relatively outsider compared to the seven former senior SPLM leaders that are also being considered for the top job. 

Bottom line

The major problem that underpins the ongoing crisis is the president’s desire to consolidated power in an effort to suppress minority groups, government system that does not embrace institutions and that micromanaged every detail aspect of establishment including universities.

South Sudan cannot afford to remain static, the burden is with president kirr to bring stability to the country, outsourcing country security and imposing unfound coup narrative only fuels the crisis. The simple fact is that current government under kirr has failed South Sudanese, Kiir should resign with no objection, many South Sudanese and the wider international community have lost faith on the government. His resignation will allows for a fresh starts for South Sudanese that deserve a government that respect their rights in terms of peaceful coexists, freedom to have political inspirations, including right to contest for public office without being subject to ill treatment and freedom of press.

Government that killed its own citizens does not deserve a second chance, and a government that is averse to change cannot be trust to lead the nation to prosperity; there is little reason to preserve things as they are.

What are your lists of your top potential candidates that can direct South Sudan in a positive direction?

The author holds master degree in Economics, he live in Michigan, USA. He can be reach at [email protected].  Author disclosure: I have no personal and business connection with mentioned individuals; however I’m a Unity State native.

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