In Response to SPLM LEADERS (FPD)
“New Roadmap to Rescue and Restore Hope in South Sudan”
December 16, 2016
By Mach de Noor [MDN]
In our nascent nation, the falsehood and deceit have reigned for too long, and truth has been set under lock and key, a falsity now prevails everywhere. So, literally, South Sudanese are confused lots and seem to have accepted their fate fait accompli. But there is something (one) or two things (people) to be appreciated in this “New Initiative”, which is related to truth-telling and national dialogue.
For starters, the diagnostic admission that the conflict was SPLM’s; pro-reformists versus pro-status quo is ‘manly’ in character. SPLM as a party is solely responsible for this crisis and history must judge thus. There is truism in what late Dr Garang said of the National Islamic Front [NIF], that it was too deformed to be reformed. The same is as true of SPLM now as it was for the NIF rascal regime.
This pessimistic view qualifies and succinctly describes the SPLM, that any attempt to reforming it will always result in bloodshed. This is so because, the most dangerous moment for any bad government, is when it begins reforms or transmutation. This party has suffered what is called the ‘Curse of Liberation Movements’, where liberators turned predators on the liberated in the end.
And, apportioning blames that there are holier-than-thou individuals in the current leadership fiasco in South Sudan is misleading and a complete futility; the trio-SPLM Camps deserve to be disbanded and each camp should come up with a new political party that bears no SPLM brand. In so doing the war-mongers in various camps will have nothing to bicker upon and that the South Sudanese will have a new dawn to elect their leaders who won’t hold hostage the country under the pretext that ‘we liberated you’, but rather, the leaders who would say: “Let’s serve the country,” and indeed act fast towards the provisioning of services to their electorates.
ARCISS Violations and the Near Collapse of Peace
In SPLM Leaders’ Document, paragraph 11 (a-j). We ought to remember the wisdom of harvest; “not prematurely and not when the fruit is overripe.” As a farmer, one must have skills and instincts to know exactly when to harvest. Yes, SK and his camp (SPLM IG), has, blatantly violated ARCISS – in a fashionable manner – that seems to make them victors of “winner-takes-all” approach in the eyes of their supporters. The creation of 28 states in October 2015, after ARCISS was signed in August the same year, was an ultra vires conduct and a serious impediment that Peace Partners/Guarantors should have addressed head-on. In this case, President SK and SPLM-IG prevailed triumphantly because the infamous “Executive Order # 36” has been allowed to reach enforcement phase unchallenged.
Now, that is, if it is to be undone, would be like removing teeth without applying anaesthetic. We already have belligerent 28 governors, 28 deputy governors, 28 constituencies, 168 ministers and unquantifiable legislators, plus commissioners and a plethora of secretaries who are likely to be offended by revocation of the seemingly defunct states but can those individuals be left to keep the country hostage? If SPLM Leaders, cum Former Political Detainees and other political powerhouses were serious, this should have been challenged on a right time. My layman’s suggestion though is that the question of more states has to be put to referendum as soon as peace is restored to South Sudan.
Secondly, as far as President Kiir and his camp are concerned, the SPLM Leaders are not a worthy foe as gun-toting groups. For example, the illegal and unjustifiable dismissal of Hon. Cirino Hiteng, should have been a’casus belli’ for the group. The vital question is; what are Hons. Deng Alor and John Luk Jok – the de facto representatives of FPDs – doing in the TGONU if the ARCISS is dead or in ICU as purported? Else, Dr. Hiteng should have been reinstated back to his post unconditionally and as soon as yesterday, because his removal is as illegal as theft. It is also necessary that part of SPLM-IO who are still supporting Riek Machar and part of the SPLM Leaders/FPDs who are forcibly exiled, ought to educate International Community (IGAD, AU, Troika, etc) and South Sudanese on the status of ARCISS. The current calls are, at best, insipid.
In a new roadmap (SPLM Leaders/FPD) para 17: p6-7. The idea that peace may prevail if Kiir/Machar are excluded from power, is a bizarre way to seek a lasting peace. Ideally, most South Sudanese, including this author, would be delighted to see new leadership and remedy to ruinous policies of the past years. Without any doubt, Salva Kiir will go down in history, not just the South Sudan’s history but the world, as the worst leader who arguably ascended to power on SPLM’s ticket and has no clue how to run a party that raised him to the helm of power, let alone governing a nation. He and Machar are justifiably anathemas to many house-holds in South Sudan.
But, unfortunately, pragmatism dictates that there must be polity in place to ensure smooth transition, because right now military usurpation is futile. Kiir has all the cards to hang on to power, even if the war drags on for few more years. First, in spite of the call that he had lost constitutional legitimacy after the massacre of civilians, displacement of million citizens since war began in December 2013 and the expiry of his term of office in 2015, he has been re-legitimised through the agreements that followed – ARCISS and Arusha. On the former, Kiir has Taban Deng of SPLM-IO as the First Vice President of the Republic as a fulfilment of ARCISS. The critics of this arrangement and Machar’s quarter argue that the replacement was not procedural and therefore illegal, but SPLM-IO component in Juba retort that the opposite is the truth. As things stand, it is not up to Kiir’s camp to defend whether Taban’s ascension to SPLM-IO (In Juba) leadership is procedural or not. It is SPLM-IO’s new and stunning ballgame!
So far, the SPLM-IG and their supporters are contented with FVP Taban and therefore ARCISS and a feigned Arusha agreements are operational. Secondly, the emerging ethno-targeted killing is a detrimental phenomenon to all South Sudanese peoples; both the victims and the perpetuators alike. The splintered IO under Dr. Machar, plus the newly mushrooming rebel outfits who have evinced allegiance to Machar’s IO, are shooting themselves in the foot by targeting innocent Dinkas who are apparently victims of the poor ethnic politics. In the same vein, and to make matters worse, there are documented reports about government soldiers killing, raping and pillaging villages of minority ethnicities in revenge-oriented attacks.
This trend is neither helping the pro-Kiir nor the anti-Kiir. In short, finding a lasting peace with Salva Kiir in power would be less complicated than calling for his exit (This also justifies why Kiir and Machar must work together to ensure smooth transition of power as per the ARCISS). And it seems inapplicable, anyway, but it is an option that should be scrutinized. It would have been easier done if the SPLM was not in its tottering state. South Sudan needs polity than any other country, for stability and continuity.
Winning a War in South Sudan
Although it seems this might be the endgame eventually in RSS, it should be avoided at all costs, and South Sudanese have the capacity to prove the late Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi wrong, when he prophesied in April 17, 2005 in his Aljazeera Interview that if South Sudanese gained independence, they were more likely to slaughter themselves over resources and tribal hegemony than to develop their own country “because of Dinka egos to dominate others” according to Al-Turabi.
Winning the war in SS [the-winner-takes-all approach], is near impossible! I mean it is do-able, but in the political setting of the RSS – including her geographical setting – it might take the length of Anya Nya and SPLM wars combined to win war militarily. Those who claim that so and so tribes are good fighters, are deadly wrong and continue doing so to the demise of South Sudan wholesomely!
Such assertions lack historical narratives to support their parochial arguments. In essence, all Sudanese communities have experienced wars since slave-trade era, to Egyptian Khalid, to Mahdiya, to Ottoman’s Turks, to English, Belgium, France and Sudanese Civil Wars. So, there is go wishful thinking that is so or so groups which aren’t capable of waging prolonged war, if are given reason to do so. And is said – conventionally – that in civil warfare “the government loses by not winning against the rebels’, ‘and the rebels win by not losing.” In addition to this wisdom, there are two crucial lessons that warrant closest studies. Firstly, the current civil war has no political objective(s), other than power greed and fight over the spoils or prestige.
And secondly, because Dr. Machar has based the political core of his rebellion on Nuer ethnic community in the aftermath of ethnic-killings of innocent Nuers in Juba, December 2013, there is no war that the government of Salva Kiir is winning without defeating the Nuer, and defeating the Nuer as a community amounts to genocide. The same can be said about Dr. Machar’s rebellion – there is no way that he can win without beating the Dinka, and he cannot win against the Dinka without perpetuating genocide.
Although the duo (Riek Machar & Salva Kiir) have kept telling the public that the war in SS is not ethnical, Riek has to win the confidence of Dinkas to prevail and Kiir has to win the confidence of the Nuers to prevail. The Equatorian tribes are darlings of the two men but they have their own grievances, different from Dinkas’ and Nuers’. Therefore, winning the war militarily shouldn’t be an option. The national dialogue is!
Back to the call for “round-table renegotiations and/or resuscitation of ARCISS”, as proposed in the latest released “New Roadmap to Rescue and Restore Hope in South Sudan,” it is likely to fall on deaf ears. The political reality in RSS is ruefully a nightmare. Even if President Kiir adhered to his latest promises for national dialogues, there are hardliners in his camp who think National Dialogue or renegotiation of ARCISS, as ‘alms’ for defeated groups.
Of course, I know those of G10+ or FPDs would argue rightfully that their group isn’t among the defeated because they have never tried to fight, but I was reading the mindsets of interlocutors across the aisle. South Sudan of today is not a country where Mahatma Gandhi would have succeeded; it is rather, like a country where William Deng was silenced for taking a pacifist position.
That’s why we have cajoled Mr. DYY with important deputy minister of defence docket. And that’s why SPLM-IG is likely to reach some sort of agreement, sooner than later, with the likes of Olony and Gadet. You don’t need to be reminded that what happened in December 15th, 2013, was a calculated act of ruthlessness and surprisingly paying off. Kiir is being monstrously funny…, and monstrously winning – or camp thinks he is winning.
And here, is why FPDs call for national dialogue is pertinent. Because, right now, as football theory goes: “the team which play possession of ball as winning strategy, must had the ball to own the possession.” You don’t possess what you are deny to own. As we speak, Kiir is owning these two pillars designed to end the war in the country: ARCISS and Arusha, and he is implementing them on cherry-picking. It is through these calls for national dialogue, or renegotiations that the other stakeholders will put up the ante and make themselves shareholders. You have lost the ball’s possession for too long.
So, how can a group of pacifists affect political changes in a country with gun-toting class? (Coinage of Drs. Majak and Miamingi)
First, for national dialogue or renegotiation of ARCISS to take a meaningful resuscitation, the SPLM Leaders cum FPDs need to unite forces with all unarmed opposition groups, including civil society organizations, religious groups, and youth organizations in neighbouring countries/overseas, to coerce the government to give national dialogue undivided attention it deserves: the theme should be that “Dialogue Saves Lives!”
Second, the IGAD/AU/Troika and UNSC’s promised RPF is a sine qua non for national dialogue because the proposed national dialogue must be operationalised in the country and the current leaders who are in exile should come home once RPF is deployed to take part in the ND process. There is a need for broad-based South Sudanese voice to spur international community and region bodies into action to ameliorate the peace process in South Sudan.
Third, is humanitarian assistance to all needy population of South Sudan and repatriation of IDPs and Refugees to their respective home, including those who are under UN Protection Sites. An all-inclusive, transparent and open dialogue is the most meaningful dialogue. Any dissembled dialogue is a no-hoper.
Fourth, in the National Dialogue, the SPLM should go to books as a liberation movement and not as source of ‘owes’ for the liberated. Three SPLM’s camps must be encouraged to part ways and form new political parties and use their manifestos to win the hearts of South Sudanese populations.
Fifth, if the national dialogue fails to shape up unity, reconciliation and nation-building, then let’s give war a chance. “War is the continuation of politics by other means” – Car von Clausewitz
Juba, South Sudan