May 26, 2014 (SSNA) — SPLM is at it again using lies, intrigues and deception to dilute the provision of interim government in the agreement of 9th May 2014 between President Salvatore Kiir and Dr Riek Machar in Addis Ababa. It is not a secret that the government of President Kiir abhors the idea of interim government. The Vice President James Wani Igga and other members of the cabinet have made their views on the subject very clear in the last couple of weeks prior to the agreement expressing their dislike to this noble idea. In their utterance, they went as far as saying they would not allow an interim government to happen in South Sudan.
As a result of pressure from the international community, SPLM had no other option but to sign up to the agreement. The government of President Kiir is now desperately trying to wriggle out of it. In its endeavour to unhook itself, it has decided to silence the internal front, especially the prominent stakeholders inside the country. The government appears to have taken this position to disempower these groups to enable it eventually to face down the external front (Riek’s group and the SPLM G11) without internal noises.
Since its inception, whenever SPLM has found itself in a difficult situation, they revert to the people with cries of danger! Danger! Danger! But if the supposedly trumpeted danger is carefully examined, what comes out is a dirty trick to disempower the people with the intention to cling to power. I shall elaborate on this point somewhere further on in this article in relation to how SPLM tricked the South Sudan opposition parties in 2008 to consolidate power.
Dirty tricks are exactly what unfolded in the country on Monday 19th May 2014. Unexpectedly and suddenly the government made an announcement over Radio South Sudan at 8.00 p.m. local time calling on all the leaders of the political parties, civil society organisations and church organisations to attend what was said to be a briefing on the following day by the government delegation to the negotiations at Addis Ababa.
On Tuesday 20th May 2014, during this so called briefing, Michael Makuei and Bashir Gbendi supported by Joseph Ukel and others ostensibly presented a twisted picture of the talks in Addis Ababa. They argued that the government was facing serious problems which they outlined as follows:
1) That the number of the stakeholders is too big and that they must consider opting for a small number of political parties to represent them.
2) That there is a western conspiracy to deal badly with the government and it is incumbent on all to support the government which is facing external conspiracy.
3) That IGAD mediators are coming on 28th May 2014 to advice on the modalities of representation at the talks and as such there is going to be a meeting of political parties soon to consider a joint position of all which will be given to IGAD.
4) That this is not a time for federalism.
These points encapsulating the concern of the government on face value, constitute a serious national problem especially when phrases like “external conspiracy” are taken into consideration. But, hold on! Without us being swept away by emotions and fear, it is imperative to look closely at these issues point by point.
First, the government claim that the number of the stakeholders is too big and therefore they must consider opting for a small number of political parties to represent them, is a very strange assertion because at the core of it, there is the intent to take away the right of expression and participation of the stakeholders concerned. By doing this the process obviously becomes undemocratic which defeats the logic of ‘South Sudanese’ finding solutions to the problems of the country. Why should the stakeholders be represented by a small number of political parties that they do not support? Here it can clearly be discerned that the small number of political parties referred to are those parties that have allied themselves with the government.
In addition, the assertion works stealthily as an indirect recruitment process for these parties which in turn strengthens them and weakens the people. It is important for this small number of political parties to be identified. So the question is then, which are the small parties and what would be the criteria for their preferential treatment? Above all, why do Makuei et al want to disempower the people? In whose interest is the muzzling of the people? Is it in the interest of the SPLM or the country?
Given what has happened in the country, the size and numbers of the stakeholders is irrelevant because they are stakeholders and they must be listened to. Further to this the cost and funding would not be borne by the government of South Sudan but IGAD and the internal community. A critical look clearly shows that the government has no point to make here other than it wants to disempower the people and recruit new members to its satellite parties. Therefore, the government is using buzz words to silence the people to dilute the provision of the interim government.
Secondly, the government claim that it has knowledge of a conspiracy by the west to deal badly with the government, is groundless and dangerous. Whipping up panic to gain support is not a good way to deal with sensitive issues. The government should know that some people (for instance, the crude and ruthless security) could literally take what they say seriously thereby creating serious risk to citizens of western countries living in South Sudan. The government needs to be aware of their responsibility and duty of care. Such loose talk can create hatred and lead to an unnecessarily negative outcome.
But let us suppose that their claim is true, why are they not specifically naming the countries involved in this conspiracy and the nature of the conspiracy itself? The truth is that the western countries (Troika, Canada and EU) have been excessively lenient towards president Kiir and his murderous government. The evidence to this can be seen in the way the western countries have kept quiet about the grave crimes against humanity committed in Juba. So far the western countries armed with full knowledge of the atrocities have refused to refer the case to International Criminal Court (ICC).
Given this information, why should South Sudanese buy the government story? The real problem why Juba hates the west is due to the west’s support for an interim government as the initial solution to the wider democratisation of South Sudan. If this is the case, why is it a bad thing when the government has failed to carry out its cardinal duty to protect its citizens? Makuei et al need to be transparent. Seeking blanket support for the government through lies framed around ‘external conspiracy’ clouded with intimidation should not be bought by South Sudanese. It is the government that unnecessarily created the current mess and it is the government that invited external conspiracy by bringing Uganda into South Sudan to soar up a tribal system. Thus the real external conspiracy threat comes from president Kiir’s closest ally in the region. Please watch NBS Morning Breeze South Sudan at a glance and read Sudan Tribune report titled, ‘South Sudan defence minister flies to Uganda amid rebel demands for foreign forces to withdraw’. Here are the links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLpkUZpJw1o and http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51103
In the Sudan Tribune report, President Kiir’s trusted ally not only rubbishes him but actually severely undermines the sovereignty of South Sudan with the following factual but undiplomatic comment. “I (President Yoweri Museveni) have never called the United Nations to guard your (Uganda) security. Me, Yoweri Museveni, to say that I have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN. I would rather hang myself. We prioritised national security by developing a strong army otherwise our Uganda would be like DRC, South Sudan, Somalia or Nigeria where militias have disappeared with school children. It would be a vote of no confidence to our country (Uganda) and citizens if we can’t guarantee our security. What kind of persons would we be?”
South Sudanese are not fools to be corralled into supporting the real culprit in South Sudan which is the government of president Kiir. If anybody buys this nonsense outlined by Makuei et al and supports this murderous government, know that you will in the near future find yourself a target of this tribal system as others have now found out at a high cost.
Thirdly, in the meeting of the parties, South Sudanese should carefully watch and note those parties that sign up to the government agenda. Those who sign up will have sold out their rights to participation in shaping their own future in the country in the historic talks in Addis Ababa. With all that have taken place in the country, it would only be opportunists and unpatriotic parties that would let down the aspiration of the people for a proper interim government that will work towards a peaceful South Sudan. When thinking about South Sudan now, it is absolutely important to ask the question: who started the war, where and why? Then further ask the question – why are there talks in Addis Ababa?
The answer to the first question identifies the aggressor, the place of aggression and provides explanation to the context. The answer to the second question points to a search for solutions. The talks are important because of the horrendous events of 15th December 2013 followed by the resistance mounted by Dr Riek Machar and others. The consequence of President Kiir’s action has been catastrophic pushing the country into war with expected severe famine forecasted to lead into huge loss of lives.
The talks in Addis Ababa did not come easily. Here, Riek must be commended. It is his resistance that triggered it. The South Sudanese fed up of being misgoverned by SPLM rightly decided to speak out and as a result they called for peace and an interim government. Please see, ‘A new and neutral government is the only solution to South Sudan’s problems’ http://allafrica.com/stories/201402241138.html South Sudan has paid dearly for these talks to happen. These talks offer the best opportunity for South Sudanese to sort out the mess created by president Kiir and his SPLM.
Fourthly, Bashir Gbendi, the newly pacified Equatorian puppet argues that this is not the time for federalism. When then is the right time for federalism? As far as Equatorians are concerned federalism should have been in operation right from 2005. The issue of federalism can not be wished away. For Gbendi to present the issue of federalism to the stakeholders as something not desirable and essential is an insult on the people of Equatoria as a whole. This is understandable because the tribal system in Juba is intolerant of federalism since it will not allow them to use state power as now for promoting their interest. However, this is more the reason why stakeholders must not sell out, so that the will of the South Sudanese people is heard clearly and understood in the talks in Addis Ababa.
The idiom “A leopard can’t change its spots” is true in the case of the SPLM. This trick that they are now using to rally support to the government was applied in 2008 to disempower the political parties in South Sudan to ensure the political space was prepared for SPLM to monopolise power. Using the overall interest of South Sudan to secede, knowing very well that SPLM’s main objective of united Sudan had lost currency; SPLM paradoxically wrapped itself in separatist garment and went to shamelessly masquerade as a unifier of South Sudanese people, when in fact it was the divider of South Sudanese by firing their first bullets at the separatists in 1983.
In a foxy pretence the SPLM brought all the opposition parties under an umbrella called “The Alliance of South Sudanese political parties”. Then it tricked this alliance to nominate Kiir as the only candidate for the presidency of South Sudan autonomous region in the general election of April 2010 in the then Sudan. This was accepted by the political parties in good faith. Once the general election was held and Kiir won the election, SPLM reneged on all the promises it made. Please see the position paper of the alliance which President Kiir signed up to and later tore it to pieces. It is arguable had Kiir kept his promise, perhaps South Sudan would not be in the current predicament. http://pachodo.org/latest-news-articles/pachodo-english-articles/1965-position-of-south-sudan-political-parties-on-the-transition
Now the SPLM has come again with the same trick to outwit the stakeholders to ensure that they become the only power in Addis Ababa mandated by the people to face Riek et al and the SPLM G121 in order to increase its chances of maintaining power under president Kiir. In this game what matters is the use of language of national security and subtle threats to frighten and browbeat the people into submission.
Therefore, all the political parties, civil society organisations and faith based groups regardless of their numbers need to be in Addis Ababa to express their views and bring about a lasting peace. They can not afford to sell out their rights to a tribal system and certainly they should not cave in to intimidation and threats. If they are intimidated, they should call for emergency general meetings of their parties to seek a mandate on the issue. Alternatively, they should report their difficulties to the mediators and boycott the talks. This in itself will send a message to the mediators and the international community that something is not right. Parties behaving like wild whores have no place in the emerging South Sudan. Hence, the talk of big numbers and external conspiracy flashed by Makuei et al, is nothing but hogwash to deceive the people to support Kiir’s failed administration to cling to power.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].