By Elhag Paul
November 6, 2015 (SSNA) — President Salva Kiir has decidedly chosen to disregards the IGAD-Plus compromise peace agreement. However, the good thing is that the president’s obstructions are reparable if the structures envisaged by the agreement itself are put in place.
This agreement was made possible through threats of individual sanctions and threats of referral of President Kiir and Riek to International Criminal Court. The game of sanctions right from the beginning was a kind of a joke. In the middle of last year the Troika applied it to enforce the constantly failing Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of 23rd January 2014. It hardly yielded any fruits. President Kiir and Riek continued to slag themselves while the civilians pay the price.
Instead of going after the real culprits who matter like the members of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), the Troika wasted time targeting and sanctioning medium size fish like General Marial Chinoung of the presidential guards and General Peter Gatdet of the armed opposition movement etc. South Sudanese were not impressed and as expected, the sanctions did not make any impact neither on the behaviour of the belligerents nor on the conflict itself. Frustrated with the ineffectiveness, the Troika imposed the compromise peace agreement.
Riek seized the opportunity and signed it without complaints. President Kiir arrogantly declined to sign it claiming it violated the sovereignty of South Sudan. Within a week of his foolery, President Kiir was dragged screaming and kicking to the table to sign it. Please see, ‘South Sudan President Salva Kiir signs the peace deal but with reservations’ http://www.nation.co.ke/news/africa/Salva-Kiir-signs-peace-deal/-/1066/2847130/-/to34j3/-/index.html and ‘South Sudan strives to build democracy’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article56687
When they were cornered, President Kiir and the JCE made their feelings and intention clear through placing reservations on the agreement. The intent clearly was to destroy the agreement. In their quest to achieve their aim, President Kiir began violating the agreement by attacking the armed opposition in Malakal and Unity state supported by Uganda air force using helicopter gunships. Fearing collapse of the agreement, US tabled a sanction motion at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against General Paul Malong Awan, the chief of the army and General Johnson Olony, the leader of the Agwelek forces.
Juba reacted swiftly and it enlisted support of Khartoum to win support of Russia which it did. It is not clear what Juba promised Russia, but it appears something substantial. When the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sat, the Troika were caught unaware by Russia. Russia vetoed the sanctions with endorsement from Venezuela and Angola. President Kiir succeeded to neutralise the threats of sanctions waved at Juba by the Troika by opening up a new relationship with Russia as their protector.
The Russian veto basically became a manna to the regime in Juba. It turned into the Achilles Heels of the whole Obama strategy to achieve peace in South Sudan. All of a sudden the regime in Juba on realising it is protected; it upped the ante in the game of destroying the agreement. Without delay it threw another spanner into the works. This time, it went straight to the juggler of the Compromise Peace Agreement (CPA) by ordering creation of new 28 states to replace the current 10 which provides the central tenet of power sharing in the CPA. Without any doubt, this is President Kiir tearing the agreement in pieces.
This contempt for the CPA hopefully teaches IGAD-Plus a lesson. They have been asking for this type of treatment for quite a long time. All along they covered their eyes, plugged their ears and zipped their mouths as in the famous Japanese proverb: see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil in their dogged support of President Kiir.
In spite of the fact that the man committed ethnic cleansing of his “own people” (Nuer), he was received like a gentleman in Washington in 2014. Please see, ‘Protesters in US demand President Kiir’s resignation’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51958 He even had a photo with the leader of the free (democratic) world.
Here is a nasty dictator abusing and misgoverning his country and yet he was received in the White House like a successful African leader. What did the host think they were doing? Did they not realise that they were boosting President Kiir’s ego and reinforcing his awful behaviour? That treatment psychologically reinforced his abominable behaviour.
It must be noted President Kiir is abusing human rights and governance in the country worse than President Omer Al Bashir of Sudan. Just a reminder to the Troika, President Kiir is a brilliant graduate student of Bashir’s school of abuse and oppression.
President Kiir true to his nature is repaying the Troika with what he knows best – contempt. IGAD-Plus has not done itself any favour in the whole game of dealing with the government of South Sudan. Right from the start, consistently and persistently they colluded with President Kiir against the wishes of South Sudanese people. Please see, ‘President Kiir’s Machiavellian tricks: Machar be forewarned’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/articles/president-kiirs-machiavellian-tricks-machar-be-forwarned
South Sudanese must realise that they have no true friend whether regionally or far afield in the international community. They are on their own and they need to begin to chart their own future without the distractions of others. This is a challenge that they can overcome. As Ben Okri, the British writer of Nigerian origin asserts, “It is our challenge to change the world (South Sudan) by the force and wisdom of our curious situation and angle.” Please see, ‘The spirit of Africa’s people will transform the continent.’ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/07/spirit-africa-art-business-creativity
President Kiir no doubt is determined to derail the compromise peace agreement bit by bit and piece by piece by using all available means to him. For instance, he with support of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda use the Ugandan media, especially Chimpreports to peddle lies and confuse the people in the whole of East Africa and beyond by portraying the armed opposition as war mongers and violators of the agreement. At the same time the Ugandan media promote President Kiir falsely as the legitimate authority. Just visit the Chimpreport website and read the articles they have published on South Sudan and it would be clear that President Museveni and President Kiir are twin brothers in the business of lies in advancement of oppression of South Sudanese.
As I write this piece, there is a serious development which raises serious questions about IGAD-Plus commitment to fair and just implementation of the already faltering agreement. Uganda which has violated the agreement by not withdrawing from the country as stipulated in the CPA has appointed Ugandan military generals as leaders of the monitoring body of the cease fire. Please see, ‘Uganda appoints team to monitor South Sudan’s cease fire.’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article56714
Where does Uganda draw this power from? Why does IGAD-Plus allow its powers to appoint to be abused by one member? Uganda from the beginning of the conflict has behaved as if it has a right to decide who should govern the country. Its bias is undisguised.
Given Uganda’s direct involvement in the war, how can it be a monitor of the cease fire? Will it be able to exercise impartiality? Uganda will not and can not be a credible monitor. It fought and fights the various South Sudanese opposition groups in support of the Juba regime. Uganda’s military hardware like the helicopter gunships and tanks are used negatively in South Sudan to kill innocent civilians. Africa Confidential in its report of 6th March 2015 under the heading ‘South Sudan: A test of everyone’s will’ confirms that “SPLM-IO has failed to overwhelm President Salva’s forces, partly due to support from Uganda.”
Therefore, the supervisors and the monitors of demilitarisation without emphasise should come from neutral countries such as Tanzania, South Africa, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria etc. Uganda simply will perpetuate insecurity as it is clearly biased in favour of the abusive and murderous regime in Juba. President Kiir has already expressed that he wants to destroy the agreement. Making Uganda (Juba’s staunchest ally) to monitor the cease fire is asking President Kiir to swiftly run riot with the whole agreement with the Ugandan monitors’ potentially concocting untruth in his favour.
If IGAD-Plus truly wants to salvage the collapsing CPA it must act quickly and tell Uganda to completely withdraw its forces from South Sudan including its dubious offer of monitoring services. The South Sudanese people do not want Uganda’s services. Simply put, it must get out of the country for peace to be realised. Uganda is a big part of the problem and therefore, it can not play any positive role.
Distancing Uganda completely from the problem of South Sudan is only one of the things that IGAD-Plus needs to do if peace is ever to be achieved in South Sudan. However, the most important missing element is the issue of IGAD-Plus impartiality. Its open duplicity with Juba against the opposition should come to an end. Unhelpful statements like the one made by the Secretary of the State John Kerry demanding Riek to go to Juba does not make things better. His demands have actually baffled South Sudanese to the extent that people now think the US is not clued on. US is underestimating the brutality and the determination of President Kiir and the JCE to remove Riek should he come to Juba without adequate security. If Riek gets harmed that would be it. We can kiss good bye to peace in South Sudan for a long time to come.
If anything Secretary Kerry’s demands helps in doing Kiir’s job of demolishing the CPA. Which brings us to the last ignored but crucial element of IGAD-Plus duplicity. That is, the issue of “moral equivalence”. The entire mediation was clouded with this concept to portray Riek, the victim in the same vain with President Kiir. This is very unfair and unethical to say the least. The crimes committed by President Kiir and the JCE from December 2013 to date on the back of the state of Republic of South Sudan can not be equated to the unfortunate crimes that took place in Malakal and Bentiu in April 2014 in terms of motive, intent and organisation. It must be remembered one is the government with a wide remit to protect all the people of South Sudan and the other is a ram-shackled force acting in self defence after being targeted and aggressed ethnically by the state.
Even the recently released report of African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan acknowledges this fact. When President Kiir ethnically cleansed Juba of Nuer in December 2013, everybody kept quiet. The international media strangely enough covered the subject scantily and then it quickly went silent. With such grave crime, South Sudanese expected the world to react instantly as with cases of similar nature in other parts of the world given the fact that the foreign embassies in the capital witnessed the mass atrocities.
The United Nations, Troika and IGAD zipped their mouths pushing the Nuer into a corner. Then in April 2014 the White army (a Nuer militia) deeply angered by President Kiir’s aggression against the Nuer and left with no choice, went into rampage in Malakal and Bentiu killing hundreds of people including fighters of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Darfur in the Sudan brought in by President Kiir to support him in the war.
The UN, Troika and IGAD at the time leapt into this developing story loudly blaming the armed opposition without getting their facts right. The Representative of the Secretary General of UN in Juba Mr Toby Lanzer was all over the place leading the blame. The same Toby who was mute when President Kiir was cleansing his opponents in Juba all of a sudden became lively and found his voice. As an observer, I do not agree or accept what the White Army did and I unreservedly condemn it. However, what I am trying to highlight here is the unfairness of those pretending to be upholding the high moral ground. This same Mr Lanzer failed to adequately speak out against Mr Michael Makuei, the minister of Information who in the same week mobilised Jieng militia in Bor. This militia attacked the UN Protection Camp leading into heavy death of innocent civilians in the camp. Why was it good for President Kiir’s crimes to be muted and those of his opponents loudly broadcasted with embellishment?
The comparison is totally biased in such a way as to minimise what took place in Juba. This behaviour from the international community can be argued as acts imbued with racism because the people killed enmasse by President Kiir were black they muzzled the world media and pretended as if grave crimes were not committed in Juba in December2013. The implication being the victims and the perpetrators all being black are ‘savages’ with no value. Therefore, there is no need for any action. Black people’s lives are not worth fussing over as their value is naught. In other words the victims were valueless to the world.
Even the international legal system could not be activated. The very United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has the duty and ability to make a referral to International Criminal Court (ICC) but this was not even considered. Truly racism is well and alive in the global structures of peace maintenance. Otherwise, how could the handling of South Sudan case be so shambolic without care for the people? When President Slobodan Milosevic of former Yugoslavia killed less than hundred people in Bosnia, the world instantly reacted and bombs fell on him. When President Kiir kills over twenty thousand people in less than three days nothing happens. Not only that but eight months after he gets invited to the centre of world power and gets given opportunity to interact with high level dignitaries from other parts of the world.
The imposed compromise peace agreement in itself is an act of a racist thinking in that it is OK to impose a killer to lord it on South Sudanese but such imposition is not acceptable on other people of fair skin in other parts of the world. For instance, both Washington and London assert that President Assad of Syria can not be part of a settlement because he kills his people. President Barack Obama of US during the 70th UN General Assembly said, ‘President Bashar al-Assad can not stay in office’ as he ‘responded to peaceful protests with repression and killing and wouldn’t be able to satisfactorily bring peace to the nation.’ According to President Obama, ‘the situation in Syria (is) “an assault on all our humanity.”’ This is a rational position.
Mr David Cameron, the British Prime Minister equally takes the same position. He says Assad, ‘is part of the problem, not part of the solution.” Please see, ‘Bashar al-Assad’s pitch for anti-ISIS pact with West falls on closed ears’ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/04/assad-anti-isis-pact-west-cameron-syria
Now if the actions of the Syrian president bar him from being part of the solution in Syria, why is President Kiir who has committed similar or even worse atrocities not only accepted but forcefully imposed on South Sudan? What do you call this? Racism! Double standards! Or is it combination of both? You be the judge.
IGAD-Plus because of its composition should be aware of racial issues which on daily basis disadvantages all black people. Sadly this organisation buys in to this unfortunate approach. Equally unfortunate are the South Sudanese because their supposed leaders in the opposition rather than articulating these serious issues for attainment of justice they engage in discrediting themselves, squabbles and petty fighting.
In April 2014 after the incident of Bor, Malakal and Bentiu, Dr Riek Machar publicly announced that he had set up a committee to investigate the actions of his fighters. After almost a year of raising the hopes of South Sudanese and the international community that at long last here is somebody doing something right, he dashed it by admitting that he had in fact not done anything on the subject. Please see, ‘Riek Machar admits SPL-IO never investigated Bentiu massacres.’ https://radiotamazuj.org/en/article/riek-machar-admits-splm-io-never-investigated-bentiu-massacres
How can such leadership be taken seriously? How can Riek claim to be e reformer when he is stuck to the culture of lawlessness? Is this not the continuation of the same culture of lawlessness of the SPLM/A brought to South Sudan? Crimes are committed, and then investigations are promised which never get done. Cases in point: killing of Equatorian police officer in Yambio, killing of a doctor in Yei, killing of a doctor in Juba, killing of an Indian business man in Bor, killing of Isaiah Abrahams and the list goes on. What chance has South Sudan got with these supposed leaders and the SPLM/A?
While these morons of SPLM in their different forms and shapes continue to let the people down, members of the international community sing that they care about the people. The phrase, ‘we care about the people of South Sudan’ has lost its contextual meaning. Those who sing it know that they do not mean it. It is rhetoric deployed to minimise the pain and make people think something is being done.
Those who sing this song without being seen taking concrete actions are only pursuing their interest regardless of what happens. This should not be a surprise for South Sudanese. Ben Okri said, we Africans come to this thing “independence” with hands tied behind our back. It is my opinion that our supposed leaders (‘liberators’) are the very people who become the new colonisers/tribal imperialists. They have taken control gleefully replacing the Arabs. Their brutality has surpassed that of the Arabs as exposed by the report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan. http://www.peaceau.org/uploads/auciss.final.report.pdf and https://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/6678478/1149898346/name/auciss%2Eseparate%2Eopinion%2Epdf
So our current struggle is a struggle for a true freedom we never had. The current fighters are struggling to free the country from the new local colonialists/tribal imperialists. Whether the current resistance fighters will be true democrats or another shade of oppressor remains to be seen.
The skulduggery of IGAD-Plus which comprises the issues of race and markets has an impact on this new struggle for true emancipation. This should be seen from the perspective of globalisation. The politics of markets does not sit comfortably with democracy. Although some of the countries driving the mediation are beacons of democracy when it comes to their interest they tend to side more with benefits of market than democracy. Always on balance democracy gets ignored in favour of despots. Examples abound. Just look at some of the worst dictators on planet earth are supported in their misrule by democracies.
But it does not need to be like that. South Sudanese yearn for a democratic order. The current regime in Juba is not worth supporting for market sake, because markets as of necessity require stability while SPLM/A only generate instability. Therefore IGAD-Plus has more to benefit from change of the system in South Sudan.
It is clear that President Kiir is sabotaging the Compromise Peace Agreement. He has been able to do this because of IGAD-Plus duplicity, Uganda’s unwavering military support to Juba and the preference of markets over democracy.
However, although President Kiir has severely undermined the agreement, it can still be stitched back together and put on track. Of importance IGAD-Plus should reflect on its conduct and do the following:
1) Order Uganda out of South Sudan
2) Avoid the temptation of assigning any role to Uganda in the implementation process, which means it should not be part of the monitoring mechanism.
3) Cease its duplicity in support of the regime of terror in Juba.
4) Order President Kiir to immediately rescind his decree number ‘36 Establishment Order’ by making a public announcement over the media.
5) Strongly remind President Kiir of his obligation under the Compromise Peace Agreement so he does not start to play games with the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission. Any mischief should be tackled head on.
6) Request UNSC to refer President Kiir and the JCE to ICC for the atrocities of December 2013.
7) In line with the Compromise Peace Agreement, President Kiir and Dr Machar having been identified as suspects in the AUCISS Report , must not be allowed to take part in the Transitional Government of National Unity. Their respective parties can choose other persons to represent them. As President Obama of USA and Prime Minister Cameron of UK have categorically said “killers” can not be part of the solution. Therefore, neither of the two qualifies for participation in government of national unity.
8) Ask the newly appointed Chairman of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Mr Festus Mogae to exercise his powers to reign in on the abuses of Juba. Mr Mogae should also arbitrate on the issue of the 28 states decreed by President Kiir as his say is final in all areas of disagreements according to the Compromise Peace Agreement.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].