August 3, 2015 (SSNA) — What became 15th December, 2013’s ethnic violence pitting the Nuer and Dinka was not the two groups’ exclusive political affair. If any, is the microcosm of a wider national issue, personalized by two major ethnic groups.
Due to their history of hate and power struggle in South Sudan, the two took the matter up on themselves. Otherwise, core issues driving the wedge between Kiir and Machar are socio-political and economic malignancies ailing the whole country.
These differences, as always stated, are tribalism, corruption and inequitable distribution of power and resources among all ethnic groups. All these ills have been complicated by dysfunctional institutions of good governance.
While running an autonomous region as well as independent South Sudan, Kiir had been above board to be advised by his principal deputy in both party and the government, Dr. Machar. Other eminent South Sudanese offered their pieces of advice to Kiir on how to best to run the country to no avail.
He either used to pretend to have taken heed of all these advices without putting them into action. Or his delusion has been that he is the elected President with the free hand to rule the country as he so wishes. With the end of his term, all these defense mechanisms should have been over and country returned to its owners, all South Sudanese, in order to debate its future.
In pursuant, Machar should as well own up from personally pushing for what are deemed to be public demands, now that Kiir from whom he has been trying to wrestle peoples’ power is no more a leader.
IGAD and its partner Troika should as well stop forth with from running this scam of viewing South Sudan as Nuer – Dinka’s entity whose spoils should be divided between two ethnic groups solidly standing behind the two leaders.
What many expect of IGAD and TROIKA is one of the followings: to re-instate the past peace formula of President and Prime Minister on equally shared power. If it is not the case, UN should instead take over South Sudan for five years until required reforms are all carried through. Or tell Kiir to vacate for a new leader, presumed to be none Dinka, Nuer and Shiluk now the apparent contesters for country’s leadership, for a consensus leader from either the Church or an eminent person from minority ethnic group as the transitional and transformative leader tasked with steering the country through required reforms till the UN’s supervised and monitored elections.
Meanwhile Kiir and Machar to go to The Hague where they will answer legal cases against each other and people of South Sudan. Whoever comes out clean shall contest in the next Presidential elections with other interested contenders except the yet to be slated transitional leader.
Reason being, one of the two having an edge over the other in power arrangements or all remaining at the top during transition, there shall be friction with each trying to influence the direction of required reforms, ending with yet another more disastrous conflict than IGAD and TROIKA are trying to resolve now.
Without considering this formula IGAD and TRIOKA could be prolonging the crisis and continuous suffering of South Sudanese. Why? They are imposing Kiir on the country, leave alone Greater Bhar El Ghazal and Equatoria for a few more years. The same applies in the case of Machar on people of Greater Upper Nile.
Again, their current peace plan is the way of belittling a wider national agenda to a narrower ethnic one. With the isolation of Dr. Riek Machar and his Upper Nile constituency from main stream politics, while it gives unfair advantage to Kiir or whoever will be his successor in the next Presidential elections after the end of transition.
This is not without saying the peace plan encourages rebellions in other regions by those who will feel left out from proposed political dispensations. Should Machar and his Upper Nile constituency, especially the Nuer, fail to win Presidency by default, the current reforms agenda shall translate into secessionist quest of declaring Greater Upper Nile region as new independent state from the rest, a Nigerian Biafra in the making.
Greater Equatoria too, will echo the same separatist sentiments than join with Greater Bhar el Ghazal against secessionist Upper Nile. This view is based on concrete evidences than far-fetched notions. For Kiir, like Ivory coast’s former President, Laurence Mbago, has perfected the fine art of Presidential term’s extensions.
In 2010 he cruised through bungled mid-term presidential elections. A day before independence declaration on 9th July, 2011, he cajoled parliament into extending his term to 2015. Fearing a likely defeat in 2015 elections, he created 2013’s violence that made it unconducive to hold an election as scheduled. The current peace’s proposal giving him three more years in office is what he exactly wanted when he instigated the same 2013’s ethnic violence. And there is no guarantee the next elections won’t go according to his usual unorthodox plans of continuous presidential terms’ extension.
Simply because IGAD –TROIKA handing him two regions 100% while he shares Upper Nile with Machar is the hidden strategy already meant to help Kiir regain the lost ground, the Upper Nile region. That will be in dividing Machar’s loyalists through either political manipulations or financial bribes and eventually kicking him out of the region politically or military.
Since Kiir, according to current peace plan, has indirectly regained his imperial presidency in appointing to and relieving from public offices Machar and his people top down. With three individuals nominated to a single position by Machar for Kiir to appoint one, is enough to stir series of lobby for positions and drive a wedge between Machar and those appointed or left out.
Without federalism being automatically implemented during transition, Kiir shall still have control of country’s oil riches in Greater Upper Nile to continue influencing the situation in his own direction. The same grip and manipulation will be replicated in two other regions since security arrangement gives him full control of all security forces there, which is enough to intimidate electorate against voting for his rivals, Machar and the rest.
In re-uniting and professionalizing the two armies into one regular national force, Machar is at a disadvantage since bulk of his armed loyalists are illiterate Nuers who will be demobilized to civilian life while Kiir since 2005 has been sending his Dinka’s soldiers for language courses and routine military trainings. The latter no doubt will be in control of the army against the former and dictate through military might and means how should remain in power.
In constitution – making, Kiir will put a simple majority clause to pass the constitution in referendum and in parliament he knows he has the majority of MPs according to current peace plan. This will include elections being run by local National Elections commission he controls supervised by the international community. Every wise person knows international observers always don’t have enough presence on the ground during referenda and elections and fear damaging their credibility by declaring such processes as unfair as well as not free.
Using all the above numerated advantages, Kiir will win while Machar and others trying to cry foul will be fought by international peace keeping force on Kiir’s behalf.
All these ill game plans make Kiir a serial war criminal locally and internationally. While Machar getting clawed back always to the system he leaves since the time of Garang paints him a political weakling and irredeemable failure locally and internationally.
For it all shows he is only capable of reforming his rivals and systems of governance against himself, making him to be used temporarily and dished eventually after a job well done. Machar by always returning to SPLM/A he either storms out voluntarily or chased out forcefully also confirms the long held belief of Dinka political elites and SPLM/A that they are indeed invincibly irreplaceable.
Such notion of mystery or sheer invincibility as created by internal weakness, by either Machar or his camp since 1991, shall live to demoralize the Nuer and other potential reformists forever from raising a finger against any persistent wrongs in the country in future.
Deng Vanang is a Journalist and Author. He can be reached at: [email protected].