South Sudan: Why regional and International Community should decisively act now!

“If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”. Desmond Tutu

By: Bol Khan


August 15, 2015 (SSNA) — The IGAD, continental body; the AU plus International Community should take very sharp action by now against the established South Sudanese chronic disease, the SPLM. In another word, the said regional and international community should decisively start seeking quick avenues on how to save the lives of remnants innocent South Sudanese civilians from this “destroying machine” called SPLM. Especially, after a failed Monday 17thAugust 2015 deadline, given to SPLM’s two sides by IGAD plus in order to strike a final peace deal. The machine has been grinding or slaughtering innocent civilians since 16th Dec 2013 to date. Those are unnecessary situations, created by the SPLM!  Where innocent South Sudanese civilians have been dying across the corners, every day, and everywhere just like chickens. Does regional and international community just wants to provide billions of Dollars in humanitarians’ assistances but cannot able to stop the “destroying machine”? In the eyes of the world-nations, thousands of innocent South Sudanese civilians were massacred, buried in mass graves even as we speak civilians are still being killed just like chickens and buried.  

Yet these powerful communities couldn’t take any substantial action to stop random killings.  The communities have been standing on unwanted neutral ground while speaking a language of “we are urging the two warring parties to the conflicts to stop war or bring peace”.  Can such language solve any problem between any two foes?  Both words, right or wrong in English would have not been there, if we cannot be able to pronounce them in a situation of solving problem between the two persons.  In nature, a mediator; any mediator cannot succeed in reconciling or solving any problem; if he/she cannot sometimes clearly tells Mr. X or Mr. Y that: You Mr. X you’re right here and wrong there and vice-versa.   For instance, the Republic of Uganda had involved, at the outset of South Sudan’s conflicts, militarily in the crisis but the IGAD’s other member states couldn’t frankly tell Museveni that you’re wrong. Instead, IGAD initiated endless; now IGAD-plus mediated peace negotiations which have been off and on in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa since early 2014 but without fruitful results. Has the regional and international community chosen South Sudanese innocent civilians’ side or its opposite? For in any deadly situations like this, two choices are always there: either you join the side of the culprits or the side of the victims. There is no impartiality in a state; where death and life are the order of the day! Irrespectively, the people of South Sudan are dying in mass today both in GRSS’s controlled areas, in the side of SPLM-IO’s controlled areas as well as in the refugee’s camps outside the country. Needles to mention those are dying in a cross fire. In total, since Dec 2013; eighty thousand (80,000) innocent pure civilians are already reported dead. This was very big number, so it deserves bold action and not just verbal words as usual.  Conflicts and suffering already either escalated to other states like WES, EES, and the region of Bhar el Gazhal. Civilians should not be left alone being killed just like chickens everywhere. Action needs to be taken!

Juba’s intransigent towards sustainable peace in South Sudan?

Of course, Juba will remain intransigent because of a military support provides to Kiir by President Museveni of Uganda.  Deeds can translate the reality on the ground. This is one of the important facts the world should know! For this reason, President Kiir and his inner-circle in Juba’s Presidential Palace won’t listen or do different things relevant to peace unless they are told to do so by Yoweri Meseveni of Uganda. In any country worldwide, it is the President who can measure how far the situations of his/her ordinary citizens have worsened.  President Kiir was supposed to measure those situations because he is the only one; presiding over the country. However, given that catastrophic situations the civilians have been passing through since Dec 2013; he (Kiir) never thinks of restoring sustainable peace to South Sudan. We have been saying this in a number of occasions or briefly in an article I wrote in May last year titled “The regional and Global Actors should learn how Salva Kiir dictates”. I am not saying: the rebels’ leader, Riek Machar should not play a significant role in bringing about peace in South Sudan. No he should but not much. Nevertheless, believe or not if President Bashier of Sudan didn’t decide to end African longest civil war when he accepted the rights to Self-determination for Southern Sudanese people, which was poplar’s demand, CPA would have not been materialized in 2005. And I think no South Sudanese in his/her right sense would wish giving up a fight for popular demand; like current badly needed reforms, federalism, equality, democracy, justice and rule of law in South Sudan. The 1972 Addis Ababa Accord of Joseph Lagu and Nemeri is a best example. So, President Kiir would have ended these sufferings of his country if he ever wants to. Presidency isn’t far better than thousands of innocent South Sudanese civilians lives lost in that period of twenty months of endless negotiations. As a replacement, the Presidency has been resisting the fact that a large segment of its offerings were massacred with an order from within. Participations of all stakeholders are also crippled by SPLM’s Juba. Opposition parties Alliance’s leader, Dr. Lam Akol cannot leave Juba for peace talks in Addis Ababa.  Salva Kiir favors Elias Lomuro, a well-known government mouth piece, to go and talk on opposition political parties’ behalf. Bravo to IGAD plus mediators who prevented him (Elias Lomuro) from participating in the peace talks. The SPLM Juba has grossly violated the South Sudan’s transitional constitution which every now and then, the officials in Juba was regularly quoting saying: “We are acting in accordance with South Sudan Transitional Constitution, 2011”. But that constitution says “the mandate of President Salva Kiir and entire government officially expires on 9 July 2015”. This implies, Salva Kiir is supposed to be out of that unblessed Presidency as of 12:00 AM 10th July 2015. That did not happen.

Does Salva Kiir work to remain in power for life?

Definitely yes! Salva Kiir was and is still working days and nights to remain in power for life. He clearly made or personally said it in May 10th, 2014 in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia that “I am the President of South Sudan, and I must always remain in that position as the President, the leader of that country forever” this statement translates the core objective of President Kiir in full. That was why he afterward ordered his kitchen cabinet to in-shamefully on 13th Feb 2015 sat and extended his government lifespan for more three full years, up to 2018. The following was a statement issued on Friday 13th  Feb 2015; by Government’s Spokesperson, Mr.Michael Makuei Lueth to the press shortly after the meeting “The council of ministers chaired by General Salva Kiir, an elected and legitimate President, has today decided to extend the lifespan of the Government of South Sudan, the National Legislature for two more years, until 2018”  The objective of an increase of the Government’s lifespan was a practical implementation of what he (Kiir) said in Addis Ababa on 10th May 2014. Or basically was to reduce increasing pressures from regional-meditating block, the IGAD or purposely from the international community which might urge him and his Government to sign peace with rebels. They have solo extended their terms in offices until 2018 and from there for sure they will extend it again for another four more years.  Indeed as they planned, Juba is just normally working now as a legitimate Government (elected by the people on 9th July 2015 and will work for the people) without feeling much pressure from any external Satan or White dogs, they continued.

With this in mind, who can still think that President Kiir and his cronies in Juba shall relinquish power or stop maiming South Sudanese innocent civilians who are dying like chickens? Logically speaking, which democratic government or leader (s) on earth has ever unilaterally and presumably decided alone to increase its lifespan in office? Nonsensically, with a pretext that I was/we are presumably elected by the people or mandated us to increase our term (s) in office for years! Except the guerilla movement-like undemocratic countries rule by military dictators who chose to do away with civil population in exchange with seat (s) including South Sudan.

Without shame, a hand to mouth or so-called National Parliament on Match 25 2015 passed Salva Kiir council of ministers’ resolution. Also, this was done in violation of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution 2011 which says “if the term of the President expires in office not later than 9thJuly 2015, the Vice President shall assume the President’s duties pending Presidential Election within six months’ time”. Contrary to the stated legal fact, the parliament also presumed that it is in South Sudan’s people interest to extend the terms of Juba Government lifespan for three years, i.e. up to 2018.

Now such a move poses a lot of queries. First, who among the South Sudanese is really interested in increasing the Juba Government lifespan in office for three more years?  Only few! Look, more than one hundred thousand (100,000) South Sudanese civilians are terribly suffering in PoCs in Juba and across the country. More than that number of civilians is also living abroad as refugees, in neighboring countries refuges’ camps. Lakes state’s people are dying in dozens every day. In Western Equatoria, Warap state, WBGS-Wau, NBGS-Awiel, Eastern and even in Central Equatoria innocent civilians keep dying every moment. So far more than eighty thousand (80,000) innocent South Sudanese pure civilians have already reported dead.  This was according to the latest human right reports in South Sudan’s conflicts. Just in the beginning and during this twenty months old conflict in including 20, 000 one ethnic group massacred in Juba. 

Yet innocent South Sudanese civilians are still dying in thousands up to this minute from diseases or of hunger and in cross fires. Now which state’s people among the above mentioned states who can mandate Salva Kiir to extend his term in office for three more years?  Is it really convenient for a Member of Parliament likes Mr. Magok Rundial whose constituent’s natives are all maimed in whole or in part, to say on my people behalf I extends Juba genocidal Government’s term in office? For what reason, to kill another eighty thousand (80,000) or more South Sudanese innocent people for another three years? Can Salva Kiir and Magok Rundial honestly convince the world that those eighty thousand (80,000) innocent civilians’ souls massacred are also interested to extend Kiir-Magok’s terms in office? To me I think Salva Kiir can’t convince the world, he is only using this language and tactic so that he remains in power forever. Certainly, in disregarding how catastrophic the South Sudanese citizens’ situations are. Therefore, Kiir or Juba Government won’t accept to listen to either regional, international community or anybody telling him to sign sustainable peace for South Sudanese people. Unless those communities have to assure him that he (Kiir) has to remain in power for life, with absolute executive sharp powers in place.

Will two warring parties ever sign IGAD plus mediated peace talks?

Leave alone the already failed peace talks which were scheduled for 17thAugust 2015, the two warring parties to the conflicts won’t sign IGAD plus mediated peace talks whatsoever. Even if they are given another deadline or timeframe for them to negotiate further and agree, because:

The SPLM/A-IG (In Government) will keep saying: Status quo has to remain in place, rejecting demilitarization of Juba, and balanced sharing of powers with the SPLM /-IO.  SPLM/A-IG will also keep saying, General Peter Gatdet, Gathoth Gatkuoth plus other alleged generals have defected from the SPLM/A-IO. There are differences within SPLM/A-IO’s leadership, so we in an elected legitimate government cannot waste our precious time negotiating or sign peace with rebels of Riek Machar. SPLM’s Juba says: Juba based regime is a fresh elected and legitimate government mandated by the people of South Sudanese people on 9thJuly 2015. These are the statements the SPLM/A-IG or Juba based regime will continue saying in trying to vindicate why they are reluctantly acting towards peace agreement etc….

While on the other hand, the SPLM/A-IO shall also keep saying: It needs reforms, federal system of government and demilitarization of national capital, Juba for civilians’ safety, balanced sharing of executive powers to avoid another 15 Dec 2013 where all powers were in one man’s hand. The roots causes of the current civil war have to be clearly drawn out for once and for all. Categorical and systematic answering of questions pertaining to Justice in regard to crimes committed in Juba or elsewhere in South Sudan etc…. 

Now in such stalemate, what will regional and international community do to help save the lives of innocent South Sudanese civilians now? After the failure of 17th August 2015 given deadline! IGAD plus with support from other international community should impose compromised peace document, for those SPLM’s leaders have totally failed in solving their differences. Because the more there is stalemate between the two parties or delayed action in peace process, the more civilians suffer most and die increasingly. Will all these sufferings and rampant deaths wait?  No! Therefore, the mediators and international helping hands should move on with BIG different plan B of either confining the SPLM’s two factions’ top leaders on the negotiating table until they sign peace.  Or find other South Sudanese leaders to form a transitional Government without the SPLM as a ruling party. A technocrat Government to be led by an Independent South Sudanese leader or a chosen UN’s representative. That TGoNU’s term must be six months to organize general elections within the given period for all candidates to compete in would-be organized free and fair general elections. While the cases of crimes against humanity committed during the war, permanent peace and national reconciliations would be also address during that given time of Transitional period.

Why regional and international community should now act against intransigent from any side!

The communities know more than anybody on the planet what the South Sudanese ordinary people need. The result was obvious, that there would be no peace signed between the SPLM/A-IG and the SPLM/A-IO on 17thAugust 2015 as planned by IGAD plus mediating team. So I said in this piece, earlier on, that those aforesaid regional and international communities should make their points clear by now. Whether they would want only to provide Dollars but cannot able to stop what kill innocent civilians in South Sudan. This is a time to say enough is enough! As an adage in my mother-tongue goes “None relates to Death”. The deep meaning of this adage is: even if your neighbor is as bad as what, you cannot wish him or her dead, for there may be a need of him/her one day as time goes. South Sudanese innocent civilians are part and parcel of the region as well as of the world. Perhaps, this region and the world shall be in need of them one time in the future. So they deserve immediate and quick rescue now!

Therefore, the regional and international community should not stand just akimbo looking at innocent South Sudanese civilians being maimed by a greedy clique which needs to remain in power for life. In short, IGAD plus needs to start drawing plan B-board with multiple mottos “Save Innocent South Sudanese civilians now” or End Suffering in South Sudan now”. The regional and international communities have prerogative rights to stop uncontrollable deaths in South Sudan. They are the only Saviors for South Sudanese innocent civilians! Jesus Christ chased away the sellers and buyers who turned His Father’s house into marketplace. God stands with anyone who does the right things or protects His creatures, the downtrodden, from all kinds of inhuman acts done on earth by tyrant rulers. In another word, the regional and world superpowers are God’s gift into the right hands on earth and should be use to safeguard innocent lives of God’s creatures in this part of the world situated in Africa. Against any side, in South Sudan, that is seen as irrationally and intransigently refuses to strike deal with other for South Sudanese people! The 17thAugust 2015 has failed, what have you started doing since then?

In conclusion

On behalf of South Sudanese innocent civilians, the regional and international communities are invited to unite with majority South Sudanese, bring peace by all means and without fear decisively act against that intransigent side. Or re-enter with workable different plan not just to impose travel ban, personal assets freeze on top leaders but also to impose global arms embargo and even military intervention.  This is a best way to save the lives of innocent civilians! As Desmond Tutu directly put it in an above quote: “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Likewise, the regional and international community needs to take bold action now against an elephant (the SPLM Oyee—destructive party) which is indiscriminately destroying African’s youngest nation over the last twenty (20) months or so.  Otherwise, should this community choose to remain neutral as usual; the dead South Sudanese’s civilians including the dying ones will not appreciate the international community’s neutrality.

The author is a concerned South Sudanese civil society member and peace activist. He can easily be reached, for comment, at [email protected]

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