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Addis talks are interfering with the sovereignty of South Sudan

By Peter Chol Alim;

 

In one of the principles of conflict resolution, when resolving a particular conflict, one needs to analyze and apply a particular remedy within the context and situation where the conflict arises. In the conflict which erupted in South Sudan, Troika and IGAD missed the point. Instead of studying the initial causes of the conflict, and later find ways of bringing it to an end, they instead rushed without facts in hand and relied on ear say, ill and misleading information from the leaders of the coup d’état and diplomatic agents within the country on the causes of the conflict, terming it as a tribal and ethnic one, hence, hiding the truth of the matter. In addition to terming it as ethnic, they went ahead to say that the conflict is structural, and that it requires the entire overhaul and restructuring of the current government under President Salva Kiir. This was also misleading and tainted the image of the republic of South Sudan across the globe. The IGAD and Troika member countries should have guided the process wisely because they are privy to conflicts, political dynamics of the country and the backgrounds of individual political characters within the SPLM. They should have asked the immediate causes of Juba conflict and contain it at that level.  It is widely known that the causes of the December 15th, 2013 conflict emanated from the SPLM because of power struggle within the party, but not power struggle at the national level at the executive level of the government. It was neither a fight over creation of prime minister Position nor a creation of the new system of the government like what had transpired in Ethiopia’s peace talks, that the rebels are demanding federalism as a system of governance and creation of the post of prime minister as conditions to bring a lasting peace. Were these the reasons they rebelled and left Juba for the bush to go and inflict the atrocities on the lives of innocent civilians who are not members of their ethnic groups? I think IGAD and troika have missed the point in directing and guiding rebels towards issues. If the rebels were guided to solve issues at the party level, the conflict would have been contained and peace would have been achieved in this country.  A party conflict is manageable without exerting more energies, efforts and costs. Now, that the international community has perceived this conflict to be structural and ethnic in nature as the rebel put it, it has been twisted to take a different shape such that it suits the interest of the enemies of South Sudan both internationally and locally. And since it’s no longer in the hands of warring parties, peace will be difficult to achieve unless the parties accept compromises at their own volition. The international community needs a regime change in South Sudan because of what they alluded to lack of transparency and accountability, corruption, institutional reforms, human rights and the rule of law violations. They hijacked and owned the conflict from the warring parties and that is an opportunity for them to bring peace when they wish to do so. And in bringing peace, they must make sure that they guarantee their own interest in the country. For their interest to be protected they must ensure to bring somebody who will protect it and that person must come with assurances signed behind the scene. Now the choice is in the hands of Troika and IGAD. They are buying time to study and consult among themselves who between the two principals they can exert support to protect their interests. After identifying their choice, president Kiir or Riek Machar, then they can give more powers to their choice, be it the incumbent President Kiir or the incoming prime minister.  Fellow countrymen, as long as IGAD and Troika are there to mediate this conflict and bring peace back to the country, it will not happen in short time because this conflict is regionalized and is no longer a South Sudanese affair. Peace will come when Troika and IGAD want it because they are manipulating the whole process to suit them. Those who have tremendous interests are Khartoum and USA and are our silent enemies who cannot bring peace in a golden plate. Khartoum is one of the IGAD member countries and USA is a Troika member with its own oil interest in South Sudan. Khartoum, by any means will try to give us tiger smiles; yet, it will maintain supporting the rebels to keep a balance of power. It keeps accusing Juba of supporting rebels. So, a principle of reciprocity will suffice here and that will make peace not a simple “morning cup of tea” to the people of South Sudan. USA as a Troika member in the talks will do the same, albeit pretending to be behind peace talks in good faith. It will demand that Juba signs a secret deal that could bring oil companies like Chevrons back. The deal will also revive the defunct oil contracts that were operating when USA still maintain good bilateral relations with Khartoum. Juba will need to balance these agreements between China and USA. China companies are already active in exploring and drilling in Upper Nile. To avoid geopolitical wrangles, it will have to maintain China and extend its hand to US to bring their expertise and companies back and to avoid tussle between the two super powers in South Sudan.

As the interests of Khartoum and USA are succinctly clear and are members of IGAD and Troika at the peace talks in Ethiopia, it is upon the government to open its eyes and protect the interest of the people of South Sudan in this peace talk. The fact that they allowed rebels to deviate from partisan dialogues and allow them to demand power sharing and federalism is an eye opener and set a precedent to the negotiations. It is true that these talks are being guided by the TROIKA and IGAD in favor of the rebels. These demands are intended to elongate the conflict in disguise instead of bringing peace. A change of government and a system of governance cannot be discussed in Addis Ababa, they should be subjected to public opinions and voting process by the people of this country. It is now a fact known to all that what is happening in Addis is the interference in the sovereign affairs of South Sudan and citizens of this country are monitoring processes there. They are satisfied with the view that what are being discussed are the self interests of the rebels and the international community in Addis. This is a betrayal that has repeated itself in the history of this country. Dr. Riek had made this country a dancing floor where everybody comes and quench their thirst and full fill their interests. He had done the same in 1991 when SPLA was engaged in the liberation struggle with Khartoum. While in the bush, he attempted to unseat the late Dr.Garang in a planned coup. For his own greed for power, he split the SPLA/M movement and called his wing Nassir faction. He declared himself the chairman of that faction, yet Dr. Garang was still on foot. That truly reflects the character of Dr. Riek in the South Sudan politics. If that was not a betrayal to advance his self interest and full fill his quest for power in crooked way, how can one stage a coup within the rebellion while people are busy fighting with the enemy? After he failed to manage his own rebellion when logistics proved to be challenging, he surrendered to the very same enemy that he initially fought with in Khartoum and left behind the Nuer forces whom he deceived and fought for him to achieve his interest. Naas [Nuers] should know that Riek treats them like his subjects to pick and use if he decides to advance his own quests. The militias that he left are the ones that are posing tremendous threats to the national security in the country. All militias in South Sudan are the makings of Dr. Riek Machar. A big second mistake is the one of December 15th, 2013. That attempted coup had left the scar in the conscience of the nation because of human loses that it inflicted on the lives of the people. The memories of innocent citizens whose lives were lost will never disappear in the minds of their families and will count on Riek.  Instead of staying to explain himself to the public about the crisis, he proved it that he was the one behind and that was underlined by his running away.  Instead of running for his safety, he went ahead to misinform the youth of Lou Nuer that Dinkas have finished Nuer in Juba. It’s unbelievable, that a caliber like Riek Machar keep lying to the people of this country to further his interest by cultivating hatred among the people of Nuer and Dinka who once were BIG brothers by many characteristics. The statements that have elements of intention could amount to acts of incitement and punishable in the court of law, not locally but internationally. Machar could be held accountable for the acts of incitement and violence. Knowing very well that coups are no longer condoned in Africa, he denied and trivializes it as an ethnic conflict. The then UNMISS boss Hilde Johnson who was privy to the coup plans accepted and acknowledge the fact that it was indeed an ethnic conflict. UN, represented by Hilde Johnson could not be trusted any more. The level of interference that UNMISS through Hilde will not erase from the history of the activities of the UN in South Sudan. This was evidenced when Hilde Johnson rushed in to deny the coup attempt and called it a misunderstanding between the armies in the barracks. She knew, it would be difficult if that was confirmed to be a coup due to wraths and implications that are attached to it. All the dealings of diplomatic corps and Dr. Riek were meant to oust the democratically elected president and that was why they were bitter due to the failure of their plans and back down in denouncing.

Now, it is upon the rebels led by Riek Machar to re-think on their strategy of bringing peace to back. They can either have a choice by re-uniting the ranks with the SPLM and discuss issues within the SPLM and solve them within the party. Or else, resort to remain in the bush if they think they can bring peace by arm twisting and the barrel of the gun. That again has immense challenges that are attached to it because the people in the field of combat are not ready to overstay in the bush. This can embarrass the rebel movement if this happen and may die out like Joseph Kony of Uganda. I think this will be the last option that the government can take in the long run if talks are going the way they are being directed. Rebels must strategize on the means to bring peace back because this conflict is no longer theirs because it has been hijacked from them by the enemies of South Sudan in disguise of bringing structural peace which will be impossible soon. IGAD and Troika have missed the target of bringing peace in the initial stages when they allowed the rebels to deviate from the real facts and immediate causes of conflict at the SPLM level and instead, opted to listen to misleading information that are suggesting to re-organize the whole system of the government which seems impossible in this point in time. The role of a mediator is to guide and direct the discussion processes and to avoid being taken back and forth by any warring parties. IGAD in this case proved weak and incapable of managing South Sudan’s conflict and bring peace. This is because it is being influenced and directed by some of the Troika member countries on how to go about bringing peace to South Sudan. The elements of restructuring the whole government by demanding federalism, creating the position of a prime minister and sharing the government into percentages are not meant to mitigate the current conflict, but are meant to encourage the disintegration of the communities at the time when unity and peace are needed.  South Sudanese need positive peace, not negative peace that is being designed and imposed on them. Negative peace will not bring a lasting settlement, but could serve as a precursor that could open another chapter of crisis that could plunge the country into abyss that is worse than the December 15th, 2013 crisis. So, restructuring the country through power sharing and federalism are not a solution current conflict, containment through SPLM party is the shortest solution which can bring a lasting peace back home.

 

Peter Chol Alim is Masters Degree Student of International Relations and Diplomacy specializing in Security from Kampala International University and can be reached at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and +211923136196. 

 

 


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