March 6, 2015 (SSNA) — On March 7, 2014 and based on decision of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) and after consultations with different parties involved in the outbreak of the mid-December 2013 conflict, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma appointed a Five-Member Commission of Inquiry [ i.e. 1) H.E. Olusegun Mathew AremuObasanjo – Former President of Nigeria, 2) Lady Justice Sophia A.B. Akuffo – Ghanaian and President and Justice of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 3) Professor Mahmood Mamdani – Ugandan and Executive Director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research, 4) Ms. Bineta Diop – Senegalese and AU Chairperson’s Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security; and 5) Professor Pacifique Manirakiza – Burundian and Commissioner at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights] to “investigate the human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan, and make recommendations on the best way and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities” based on the designated terms of reference: [i.e., 1) Establish the immediate and remote causes of the conflict; 2) Investigate human rights violations and other abuses during the conflict by all parties from 15 December 2013; 3) Establish facts and circumstances that may have led to and that amount to such violations and of any crimes that may have been perpetrated; 4) Compile information based on these investigations and in so doing assist in identifying perpetrators of such violations and abuses with a view to ensuring accountability for those responsible; 5) Compile information on institutions and process or lack thereof that may have aided or aggravated the conflict resulting in violations of human rights and other abuses; 6) Make recommendations based on the investigation on the following: a) appropriate mechanisms to prevent a recurrence of the conflict; b) mechanisms to promote national healing and cohesiveness, particularly focusing on the need for all South Sudanese communities to live together in peace; c) modalities for nation building, specifically focused on building of democratic institutions and post-conflict reconstruction; d) and accountability mechanisms for gross violations of human rights and other egregious abuses to ensure that those responsible for such violations are held to account].
The Technical and Administrative Support Team for the Commission was based at the AUC Headquarters in Addis Ababa. The Secretariat established necessary contacts with the AU Juba Liaison Office, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Juba, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and relevant stakeholders, so as to enable members of the Commission to amply carry out their mandate and finalize the required report.
The 60-page report was presented to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on Jan 29, 2015 but restricted from publication so that it doesn’t spoil the atmosphere of IGAD-led peace talks. According to the excerpts from the leaked report by Reuters:
1) South Sudan‘s president Kiir and his rival Riek be barred from transitional government because both of them are responsible for the political collapse in December 2013 and "the organized massacres and the large-scale violence that followed." The violence "ethnically cleansed" the capital Juba of Nuer, who then sparked revenge attack. The conflict reopened ethnic fault lines, pitting Kiir’s Dinka people against Machar’s ethnic Nuer forces. The United Nations and aid agencies accuse both sides of Kiir and Riek of ethnic-based massacres and grave human rights violations including widespread rape and executions.
2) Ministers who were in power prior to cabinet’s dissolution in July 2013 "be barred from participation in the transitional executive" because they were accomplices in Kiir-Riek conflict and could have been involved in corrupt practices against the development and welfare of the Republic of South Sudan.
3) An AU-appointed and U.N.-backed three-person panel to effectively control and oversee a five-year transition and creation of an executive for South Sudan that would place all oil revenue in an escrow account overseen by the African Development Bank.
4) An African Oversight Force for South Sudan made up of troops "without prior involvement or direct interest in South Sudan" that would be under AU command and "the overall charge" of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
5) The African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, instead of the International Criminal Court, be given criminal jurisdiction over "high state officials individually responsible for war crimes and/or gross violation of human rights."
6) United States, Britain, Norway and IGAD are to blame for creating "a politically unchallenged armed power" and “unaccountable political class" who have been acting with impunity and legitimized "rule of the gun" in South Sudan through the 2005 CPA deal. Particularly, the United States supported Kiir until it lost confidence in him in late 2013. Washington had hoped he could oversee a stable, oil-producing, majority Christian state allied to the West in contrast to neighboring Muslim-led Sudan, which is hostile to Washington.
Now, by trying to connect the dots for sensibility of the report, you could detect from March 6, 2015 press release by the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Chair of IGAD after declaring the collapse of the latest session of Government-SPLM/A (IO) peace talks in Addis Ababa, that the region together with the UN could impose ‘by all means’ a transitional government for South Sudan by July 2015 (perhaps including the Cote d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo ousting model, justified by his illegitimacy in holding power beyond elections mandate and Angola Jonas Sabimbi’s crushing model, justified by his intransigency on continuous rebellion).
This might mean that the recommended joint AU-U.N ‘trusteeship’ would be effected to oversee a five-year transition and creation of an executive for the Republic of South Sudan and place oil revenue in an escrow account overseen by the African Development Bank. It could be sensed that such AU-UN sovereign controllers would rule the country in collaboration with some selected South Sudanese technocrats. What is yet to be known in details is whether the proposed AU-UN panel that shall be handed sovereignty of South Sudan would be doing it by ‘remote or proximity control.’ It shall be impossible for one country to have many governments claiming the same sovereign power at the same time. That is, how will the AU-UN imposed government operate inside the country successfully side-by-side with Dr. Riek Machar’s declared federal bush-government and with President Salva Kiir’s city-government? How would South Sudanese technocrats who shall participate in such imposed alien government be perceived by the public? May be betrayers versus patriots, depending on where someone who judges stands.
The possible aliens’ intervention into the Republic of South Sudan is now imminent if our leaders don’t come into their proper senses and see politics clearly the way critical analysts see it. “By all means” would then mean including military takeover of the government of South Sudan by AU-UN peacekeeping forces and crushing the rebels’ government if it doesn’t comply with peace that is imposed by the superpowers.
Surely, our political leaders are to blame for this unfortunate situation of opening the country to aliens’ intervention. This would have not come if the internal front of all legal political forces were united for securing the dignity of their country. The price of disunity is always fall and collapse of sovereignty, nationalism and patriotism. We might even reach a day to say “there was a country” called South Sudan, God forbids!
However, perhaps, the stalled IGAD peace talks is going to be a blessing in disguise for the serious and concerned nationalists of the Republic of South Sudan (intellectuals, politicians, religious leaders, civil society leaders and ethnic sages) to rethink out alternative internal avenues of finding a lasting peace and rescuing the hard won independence dignity of the Republic of South Sudan from aliens’ or betrayers’ grabs.
The IGAD mediation deadlock on peace negotiations could open a ripen opportune for an urgent calling of an inclusive national peace and governance conference in Juba before the AU and UN reach the tipping point of taking over the country from both the government and the rebels by July 2015. It could be learning by hard ways after our leaders have knocked their heads on hard walls of tough choices between war and peace, and after they have gotten humiliated and chickened by threats of sanctions. Keep crying my beloved country!
It is now time for the honest nationalists of the Republic of South Sudan to come together as soon as possible and deliberate on available avenues of securing a dignified fate of their beloved and embattled country, before giving a foolish chance to outsiders to decide for them via regrets. It is high time to abandon politicized selfishness and embrace altruism for the common good of the new nation in the making.
Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer and political analyst in the area of politics. He can be reached at [email protected].