Editorial: Forming Transitional Government of National Unity without addressing violations is playing into the hands of President Salva Kiir and JCE

By Elhag Paul

February 9, 2016 (SSNA) — Why is the chairman of Joint the Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), President Festus Mogae not exercising his powers to veto the Establishment Order of President Salva Kiir?  The Compromise Peace Agreement of August 2015 has granted him all the necessary powers he requires to manage the transition period in South Sudan.  Why then does President Mogae feel impotent and unable to act in the face of a clear violation of the agreement by President Kiir, which he accepts and acknowledges?

President Mogae already has the support of the African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Troika (United States of America, United Kingdom and Norway).  With these powerful African organisations and powerful Western governments of which two are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council behind him, President Mogae should consider himself as a well resourced governor.  Therefore, with his immaculate leadership credentials President Mogae should be able to exercise those powers without any hesitation to live up to his reputation.  President Mogae should not walk on a tight rope or sit on the fence as he is doing now with the issue of demilitarisation and the 28 states threatening the Agreement on Conflict Resolution in South Sudan (ARCISS).  As the person with the ultimate say in the country he needs to govern, and governing effectively calls for President Mogae to act at this critical time decisively.

President Kiir whose term of office expired in July 2015 enjoys the presidency now because ARCISS legitimised his continuation in power.  Otherwise his continuation in that office would be unlawful.  His support base in the form of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) has gained a massive amount of confidence so much so that they openly challenge powerful groups internally, namely the Nuer and externally, the international community.  Sudan Tribune defines the JCE as, “The Dinka Council of Elders is not a traditional group but a self-appointed group comprising influential Dinka politicians and relatives of President Salva Kiir who advice him on how to run the affairs of the country in the interest of ethnic Dinka.”  Please see, ‘Jieng Council of Elders warn of war over new states’ http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article57796  From this definition it is crystal clear that the JCE does not in any way represent the people of South Sudan.   

President Kiir and the JCE consider themselves invincible because they control all the resources of the country and they have Jienganised the entire security sector.  They feel confident and comfortable to destabilise the country in the interest of their tribe.  To get a feel of their confidence please read their statements and press releases, some of which are quoted in this piece.  The JCE without a doubt is responsible for the entrenchment of tribalism in South Sudan in opposition to democracy and pluralism. 

As described in the USA Senate meeting the Jieng “hijacked” the state of South Sudan and they are using it to commit grave crimes against its people.  Please see, ‘Independent South Sudan: A Failure of Leadership’ http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/independent-south-sudan-a-failure-of-leadership-121015  So the problems of the 28 states and the difficulties around demilitarisation of Juba on the in-tray of President Mogae directly emanate from the abuse of the state by the Jieng.

The JCE as a body is deeply implicated in the ethnic cleansing of the Nuer and killing of South Sudanese in general in pursuance of their interest which is to install themselves as the elites in the country.  The African Union Commission of Inquiry into South Sudan points an accusing finger to some members of the JCE as being instrumental in the planning and organisation of the Nuer ethnic cleansing in the country.  With this kind of background it should naturally be expected that President Kiir and the JCE are going to create obstacles on the road to peace.  After all they initially refused to endorse the agreement.  They were only brought in kicking and screaming by Troika. 

The obstructions President Kiir and the JCE are heaping on ARCISS may be a continuous thing along the route.  So far it seems the guarantors of the peace agreement do not have a plan B to deal with such inconveniences. If this is the situation, I suggest that they should consider what is proposed here as one.  Yes, the chairman of JMEC, President Festus Mogae said, and here I would like to say that most South Sudanese would agree with him, South Sudan should not be plunged back into war.

The driver of the vehicle of violence wreaking havoc in South Sudan is President Kiir and the JCE.  To bring a genuine peace to the country, the JCE should be sanctioned.  Its entire membership should be put under a rigorous regime of sanction.  In addition to this those implicated in the ethnic cleansing of December 2013 should specifically be referred to the International Criminal Court.  In a sense this will be like hitting the head of the snake in the house hard enough with a stick to disable it from biting anybody to restore a state of peace.

Without the JCE, the ‘scarcely literate’ President Kiir with his militia will not have another option but to implement ARCISS smoothly.  It is noted President Mogae has said threats from this tribal body is unacceptable.   Though this is welcome, it is not enough without firm action to address abuses.  It is important for President Mogae to make a statement of ‘no nonsense’ at this stage to drive the message to the system in Juba that he means business, that is if he wants to put a stop to the cycle of violence in South Sudan, as he expressed in his report to the 55th Extra Ordinary Session of IGAD Council of ministers held in Addis Ababa on 30th January 2016. President Mogae needs to take a tough and firm action to put the JCE in its right place in regards to his own position.

It must be remembered this threat of war is not the first time the JCE has made such threats.  During the consultation stage of the proposed compromise peace agreement the JCE dished out similar threats.  Please see, ‘Jieng Council of Elders rejects imposition of peace on South Sudan: A clear message to the potential perpetrators of South Sudan destruction.’ http://paanluelwel.com/2015/04/01/jieng-council-of-elders-rejects-imposition-of-peace-on-south-sudan/      

In this letter the JCE threatens and warns IGAD mediators by saying, “Any person who under estimate the will of liberators to defend the price of their liberation struggle is simply toying around with fire.”  The impression projected here deceptively portrays the Jieng as an invincible people who solely liberated South Sudan on their own.  This elaborate facade ignores the facts documented about South Sudan’s liberation struggle in its totality. 

This JCE’s heroic and jingoistic presentation does not take into consideration the reality that had Equatoria not intervened in the mid 1990s to rescue the SPLM/A from total defeat by Khartoum, SPLA would not be able to crow as they do now.  Furthermore, were it not to be for Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni’s  uncalled for interference in South Sudanese affairs in December 2013, President Kiir and the JCE’s regime would have been consigned to history.  General Peter Gadet Yaka could have easily disarmed the ethnic cleansers in Juba and instituted a new system.  So the JCE should spare the people of South Sudan this empty talk.

The current destruction in the country ignited by President Kiir’s Machiavellian plan to rid himself of the opposition operationalised through lies of a coup has been fought for the president mainly by foreigners: Uganda’s UPDF, Sudan’s Darduri rebels and SPLM/A-North.  Even with its glaring weakness, President Kiir and the JCE stubbornly appear focused on pursuing the madness of war to achieve their failed objective of December 2013.

Which brings us to the irrational call of AU, IGAD and Troika for a transitional government to be formed “immediately” while leaving the contentious issues pending.  It is my belief that this decision influenced by a combination of Eurocentric and Afro-dictatorial thinking, devoid of any local perspective of South Sudan is resetting the country for another round of violence.  Unfortunately, this demand to form a transitional government ignores the fresh history of ethnic cleansing in the country.

Aljazeera interviewed Dr Riek Machar on the subject recently and it appears the concerted pressure brought on him has finally broken him.  He seems to have caved in, indicating he would accept forming a TGONU.  Machar has failed to ask himself: why did President Kiir and the JCE violate the agreement?  What was the violation supposed to achieve for them?  What does suspending the implementation of 28 states exactly mean?  Which governance structure will apply in the mean time?  What makes him sure that when the TGONU is formed and they later fail to agree that this issue will not lead to conflict and violence like in 2013? The answers to these questions and others should have been taken into consideration in assessing the issue.  How Machar reached his decision is baffling.  Please see ‘Q&A The Future Peace in South Sudan’ http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/qa-future-peace-south-sudan-160202104527157.html

Everybody should ask herself/himself as to why ethnic cleansing happened in Juba in December 2013.  The short answer is that in the struggle for power in the SPLM/A a simple thing like disagreement over the voting model to choose a leader set the country on fire.  Who were the leaders then?  The same lot of the various SPLM/A factions which ARCISS ironically has empowered again.  With this knowledge in our hands, why does the international community want a transitional government set up of the same people with serious issues of disagreements left unresolved?  Is this not setting up a scenario similar or worse to that of December2013?  It is common talk among South Sudanese at home and in the Diaspora that President Kiir and the JCE are still itching to complete their ethnic cleansing of the Nuer which started two years ago so they can intensify their aggression on Equatoria.

South Sudan has been traumatised more than enough by experiencing the brutality of SPLM/A.  Everything should be done to avoid another political eruption that will compound their trauma.  Therefore, ARCISS should be implemented as agreed without deferment of issues of violation like the 28 states programme of President Kiir and the demilitarisation of Juba and so on.  It is better to delay the formation of a transitional government of national unity than to rush and end up with another catastrophe.  Better still if President Mogae exercises his powers as an arbiter on issues of difference in South Sudan to bring a quick solution to this simmering problem.

Without emphasise if President Mogae continues to manage ARCISS in the manner he has since coming to the post, he runs the real risk of finding himself severely undermined, despised and turned into a laughing stalk of the SPLM/A.  He needs to come to terms with the reality found in the various internationally produced reports that he is dealing with a bunch of seasoned criminals who are well experienced in manipulation, mendacity and lawlessness.  These are masters of tying knots of confusion around the simplest of things to convert it into a nightmare in order for them to win.

Remember, these  criminals know that ARCISS’ ultimate objective is to make them account for their crimes and they are not fools.  They will try every trick in the book including those not recorded to derail the agreement, and playing into their hands with the demand to form a TGONU with their violations shelved is helping them with their script of wreaking havoc on the agreement.  When it suits them they will cooperate and when it does not, they will vilify and demonise JMEC without thinking of the consequence of their loaded words.  Please see, ‘South Sudan’s senior officials’ irresponsible use of language’ http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/editorials/south-sudans-senior-officials-irresponsible-use-of-language

Finally the insistence of the international community for President Kiir and Riek to form a government of national unity without the contentious issues of 28 states and demilitarisation of Juba, properly cleared carries a very serious risk to the successful implementation of ARCISS.  But worse still it runs the risk of exposing the people of South Sudan to the possibility of another conflict.  A month prior to the sad and tragic events of December 2013, the international community was warned through an article, ‘South Sudan Needs Intensive Care’ published in the various South Sudanese websites but the message fell on deaf ears.  As a result South Sudan exploded with tens of thousands of innocent civilians losing their lives and the displacement of millions more. 

http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/opinion/editorials/south-sudan-needs-intensive-care   The crucial question now is: can President Mogae reflect and act accordingly to avert another catastrophe in South Sudan?

[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]

The author lives in the Republic of South Sudan. He can be reached at [email protected].

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