By SPLM LEADERS (FPD)
Chapter One: Historical Background:
1. Following the efforts to democratize the SPLM Party and subsequently, the state after South Sudan attained independence in July 2011, two ideological trends emerged. One trend advocated for reforms and the other opposed any changes, insisting on maintaining the status quo. This led to the crisis of 15 December 2013. The faction led by the SPLM Chairman who is also president of the Republic of South Sudan, Cde Salva Kiir Mayardit, used the coercive instruments of state power to crack down on the reformists and to monopolize the SPLM brand-name in order to claim the historical legacy of the SPLM as a tool of legitimizing itself.
2. The two ideological trends subsequently split into three: the first faction kept the reins of state power while the second faction led by Dr. Riek Machar was forced to arms. It unsuccessfully contested the SPLM brandname, in the end being labelled as SPLM-in-Opposition. The third group got rounded up, detained, later tried, acquitted and forcibly exiled. This group was variously labelled as G11, G10+, Former Detainees (FDs). In response, the group chose to call themselves the SPLM Leaders – Former Political Detainees. That was part of the SPLM brand contest.
3. In an attempt to re-unite the three groups an intra-SPLM dialogue was convened in Arusha, Tanzania, brokered by the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa and Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) of Tanzania. As a result, the SPLM Re-unification Agreement was concluded on 21 January 2015, witnessed by Presidents Kikwete, Museveni and Kenyatta; and Deputy President Ramaphosa. The common belief across the factions and the Region was that SPLM re-unification would be a precursor to reestablishment of national unity and resolution of the crisis including the war that had raged on since December 2013.
4. In efforts to implement the Arusha Agreement, members of the FDs moved to Juba in May 2015. These efforts were, however, met with stiff resistance by those whose understanding of the Arusha Agreement was a simple return to the fold and maintenance of the status quo pre-crisis.
5. At the same time that Arusha was being negotiated, a parallel process aimed at resolving the armed conflict was taking place in Addis Ababa, under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD). This culminated in the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) in August 2015. It is noteworthy that President Salva Kiir grudgingly signed ARCISS in Juba ten days later, with a catalogue of reservations. These reservations sawed the seeds of distrust and failure. The introduction of the 28 states, contrary to stipulations of the Agreement and the Constitution, undermined trust, as well as the letter and the spirit of the Agreement.
6. It was indicative of President Kiir’s reluctance not only to observe the terms of the ceasefire but also to reject calls for the promulgation of the Interim National Constitution that would incorporate the text of the Agreement. Despite these flagrant violations and lack of political will, the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) was inaugurated in April 2016. Unsurprisingly, conflict resumed in July, 2016, which led to the forcible ejection of the First Vice President (FVP) Dr. Riek Machar Teny from Juba and indeed from South Sudan; leading to the eventual collapse of the Agreement.
7. As things stand, South Sudan is on the brink of collapse and disintegration, as its social fabric has been severely fractured and society’s harmony is dangerously compromised. The United Nations has repeatedly reported continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation. The Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide has documented evidence of mass atrocities, ethnic cleansing, widespread displacement of the population, and warned that the country is accelerating towards genocide. Service delivery activities have ground to a halt, with the little that remains being undertaken and financed by the international community and Non-governmental Organizations. The economy is in tatters, with runaway inflation and weakening South Sudanese Pound.
8. The dire humanitarian situation and countrywide insecurity characterized by the “Unknown Gunmen” phenomenon, mass atrocities, ethnic cleansing, rampant corruption, increasing intolerance and shrinking political space and the sorry state of the economy - appear to have pricked the conscience of the region and the international community. This has led to different responses, including calls for quick fixes without due regard and attention to addressing complexities of the South Sudanese crisis and its root causes.
Fixing South Sudan hinges on tackling simultaneously both the unfolding humanitarian emergency and the intractable politics of state formation and nation building that caused the crisis in the first place. In our view a new approach should be adopted that would critique and review ARCISS, and chart a new roadmap for a workable political configuration, harmony, stability and sustainable peace.