Akol Aguek Ngong, The Chairman of Bor Community USA

“If President Kiir Could have Held His Ground: There Wouldn’t Have Been United States or Regional Boots on the Ground in South Sudan

This article first published on September 17, 2015


Let me disclose at the outset that the views expressed in this paper are completely mine and should not be attributed to anybody else or entity including the Bor County Diaspora in the United States that I lead but only to me as an individual and citizen of the Republic of South Sudan. I am expressing my views after the fact and I do not think any argument made at this point will change anything on the ground since the “peace deal” has been inked by the President and all that is left to relevant actors is to implement it. Thus I can only wish I was wrong to be too pessimistic about this peace deal. But for heavenly sake, the President could have gotten a better deal for peace loving South Sudanese had he hanged tight and asked for more time to negotiate for a lasting peace.

Nevertheless, from a geopolitical standpoint, let’s assume that the President had the wherewithal to stand up to the IGAD Plus peace coalition and walked away from the deal altogether, the strategic analysis of such a scenario would have unambiguously shown how the players mentioned and whose motivations and punitive measures discussed below would have been too infeasible or toothless to bring down the Government of South Sudan. By taking this analytical framework, I begin by asking myself or readers who these players are and what motivates them to take the position they have taken in favor of Riek’s camp and against South Sudan Government. Further, I delve into discussing their punitive measures to ascertain how too infeasible or toothless those measures would have been to fall short of bringing down the Government of South Sudan or pressuring the President to come down to his knees and sign the IGAD Plus proposed deal as put forward by these players (essentially as signed by the President a few weeks ago).
(B) Who Are the IGAD Plus and Anti IGAD Plus Players?

On the one hand, the players that make up the proponents of IGAD Plus peace coalition are both regional and global geopolitical players who have varying vested interests in pushing South Sudan toward the direction that their proposal calls for. They include the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, but whose actions explicitly reveal sympathy toward the rebels and their implicit backers (SPLM/A-IO and SPLM-FD respectively).

On the other hand, the anti-IGAD plus peace coalition has only two obvious players, the South Sudan and Ugandan governments and their third implicit natural ally, Rwanda (because you cannot logically separate Museveni from Paul Kagame who was once Museveni’s junior officer in the Ugandan Army).

Further, we have a big elephant in the room, the consumer of South Sudan’s fossil fuel (70% of it): The People’s Republic of China which will (in all possible scenarios) stand to be neutral due to its dedication to Westphalian doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign states but whose vested interest in the uninterrupted flow of such oil pushes it to value stability in South Sudan above everything else. This position implicitly favors South Sudan Government as the only China’s legitimate economic partner in the current oil drilling deal and which has invested militarily to protect the unfettered flow of oil to the world market (70% of it directly to China’s economy).

Finally, we have a regional or global dynamic in which Somalia remains a failed state to which the United States has leaned on Ugandan, Ethiopian, and Kenyan armed forces to support the fledgling government there in addition to neutralizing if not eliminating El Shabab terrorist group and coastal pirates operating against US national interest in that country.

Thus the current civil war in South Sudan has geopolitical element to it that makes it so complex that it is more than a power struggle between the Government and rebels. This is simply because these players have now become apparent as interested parties in how the current civil war in South Sudan ought to be brought to an end: in order to end the suffering of South Sudanese? You be the judge! That is beside the point as the suffering of South Sudanese can’t just be explained by how these players have acted in the course of ending the 20 month civil war especially in the manner in which they have written the terms of the peace proposal which they have successfully jammed through the President’s throat with threats of punitive measures should he fail to sign it as it stood.

Unfortunately, the President has relented and signed it a few weeks ago. This begs a question about what these players are out to gain from getting their way in the manner in which they acted to end the current South Sudan’s civil war. It can’t just be for egalitarian or altruistic purposes because nation states exist precisely to look out for their national interests.

Thus let’s discuss in details each of these players who have somehow made themselves parties to South Sudan conflict to ascertain what drives their interests in South Sudan.
(1) The former CPA Troika co-sponsors: The United States of America; The United Kingdom; and Norway These countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway, are the most powerful players driving the decisions of the IGAD Plus Coalition respectively. So what motivates each of these players to take the position they have taken in pushing for the recently signed deal as it stood? Let’s discuss the motivation of each of these countries by looking at each of them at a time. The United States as the key troika player that once backed the independence of South Sudan has been under fire for successfully backing the region that South Sudanese haters thought had no way of becoming a viable sovereign state and it has been reeling from such a guilt since the time the violence broke out in Mid-December 2013. Actually, the US disillusionment may have pre-dated the Mid-December 2013 violence. It could have dated back to the time when it became apparent that the independent South Sudan was mired in burgeoning corruption due to patronage and clientelism in which the public sector was considered the source of wealth for whoever had access to national treasure (as evidenced by the disappearance of $4 billion from national treasury with nothing to show for it).

It is through those lens that the United States has made a decision to use its leverage and power to end the violence and punish the individual whose buck stops in his court: the president of South Sudan. I would argue (and this is from my candid conversations with former professors who are currently in Obama administration) that the United States’ motivation is driven by a legitimate need for reform to not only end the violence but also to create a functioning bureaucratic system whose hiring policies are meritocratic and impersonal to bring the South Sudanese people of knowhow and relevant experiences to public service to serve all South Sudanese.

Unfortunately, the United States policy has been misguided especially in the manner in which it made a decision to throw the government of South Sudan under the bus to give way for recycling back the bad apples whose very corruptions could be traced back to the times when they were once in the government. Sadly enough, such a call gets a firm footing in the Obama administration because it partly has something to do with the failure of the South Sudanese diplomatic community to tell the President’s side of story. It also partly has something to do with the President’s erratic decisions that leaves a lot to be desired in how the new country’s image is portrayed on the global stage. If it weren’t for the President’s personal or administration’s diplomatic mission failures, the likes of Riek Machar would not have come close to being preferred by the world actors over the President whose cool demeanor could have earned him more admirers than political foes!

Nonetheless, I am for all of those niceties from the United States’ worldview but I take the issue with how such US legitimate reforms could be achieved through such a balkanizing peace deal that has sliced and diced South Sudan’s into territories manageable by one camp over the other and through which the legitimate sovereign authority of the nation is subjected to the whims of the so-called experienced external players.

Further, my acknowledgement of the United States’ legitimate need for reforms does not go without saying that there aren’t American vulture capitalists (some of whom headquartered on Wall Street in New York City) eyeing South Sudan’s oil and mineral resources and who are out to try to sway American foreign policy away from the Government of South Sudan and toward the rebels hoping to get better deals for themselves under Riek’s leadership. But it is highly unlikely that their voices are heard in the Obama administration. In fact the likes of activist John Prendergast and Hollywood star George Clooney whose positions on the current South Sudan conflict can’t be meaningfully discerned have more clouts in the Obama administration than those vulture capitalists.

Ultimately, these American mineral lords (who are out to exploit African minerals where they are found in the continent of Africa and in South Sudan in this particular case) could do more harm than good to the South Sudan Government.  But I do not think they are as influential in this administration as feared by many South Sudanese.

Finally, the other two junior troika members: The United Kingdom and Norway are simply toeing the United States’ line in this peace proposal because they have no independent motivation or rationale that is separate from that of the United States. The United States will continue to drag them along in its course of influencing the South Sudanese leaders now and into the foreseeable future.
(2) The Republic of Sudan As geopolitical adage has it that he who owns the pipeline also owns the oil underscores the logic behind Sudan’s business in being too nosy to continue to meddle in the South Sudan’s domestic affairs because it wants South Sudan to remain hostage to its pipeline. And what a better way to continue executing this agenda than sponsoring its 1991 foster boy, Mr. Riak Machar Teny, to destabilize the nascent state again by making it too impossible to reconstruct itself to become a vibrant state.

Psychologically speaking, Sudan wants to prove its once famous argument that South Sudanese couldn’t govern themselves and shouldn’t have been allowed to secede from the rest of Sudan in the first place. Its natural wish is to have South Sudan mired in a quagmire that could cause its eventual demise after which it can come in after the nascent state collapse and gather the crumbs from the failed state, move those territories back to its fold, and declare former Sudan re-united.

This is true though one has to have a candidate conversation with an average elite Sudanese who is idealistically daydreaming to get this point! Every Sudanese I run into tells me the case of the re-unification of Germany as the possible future outcome they wish to happen one day so that we can get together again as Sudanese. I always wish them good luck with their impossible wishes!

It suffices to say that this wishful thinking lands Sudan on the side of IGAD Plus peace coalition because Sudan is aware of this imminent South Sudan’s fissure out of tribal competition over its states endowed with natural resources to which it will benefit a great deal especially by successfully taking over the contested areas along the border if everything else does not go in its favor.

Do you hear of any talk about the contested areas along South Sudan-Sudan border nowadays? Nope! Read between the lines! Sudan is already benefitting a great deal from this civil war.
(3) The Republic of Ethiopia The Republic of Ethiopia has this interesting legacy of being the Godfather of then defunct Organization of African Unity (OAU). And its capital City, Addis Ababa, continues to remain as the headquarters of African Union (AU), the reconstituted former OAU. From that historical vantage point, Ethiopia feels it has obligations to lead in matters that pattern to Africa and particularly in matters that pattern to Eastern Africa. This explains its military involvement in Somalia on behalf of Somalian nascent government and also on behalf of the United States which wants El Shahab terrorist as well as pirate organizations annihilated in that failed coastal state in the Horn of Africa.

Further, another important factor that has to be reckoned with is the fact that Ethiopia has a significant Nuer constituency in Gambela Region and that Nuer population will always be a natural ally to its fellow Nuer Community in South Sudan. Finding itself in such a strategic dilemma, Ethiopia took a position that was less likely to anger its Nuer constituents who have significant wherewithal to undermine its authority along that porous South Sudan-Ethiopia border around Gambela Region.

Finally, Like Sudan, Ethiopia has territorial desires especially around border areas of Bilpam, Pochalla, Jebel Gizza, and Raat. And the best way for Ethiopia to extract as much territory as it can from South Sudan border areas is to help weaken South Sudan so that South Sudan feels less incline to take it on with regards to territorial claims along Ethiopia-South Sudan border.

The IGAD Plus peace deal that has just been signed is one of the best ways to do it as this stands to weaken South Sudan Central Government and thereby giving way to balkanization of South Sudan with warlords running their own autonomous mini-states. I pray a lot so that this does not come to fruition!
(4) The Republic of Kenya The economic interest with South Sudanese petro-dollars and oversea remittances from South Sudanese diaspora continuing to fuel Kenyan economy is one of the best motivations I suspect drives Kenyan’s position in the coalition. From that logical standpoint, Kenya does not want to see a vibrant independent South Sudan that can develop to build its best schools and its best rental properties because that could be a big drain on its economy. Who will rent Kenyan properties? Who will pay hefty school fees to Kenyan public and private school coffers? South Sudanese customers, this author included, are the best Kenyan customers who need to be held hostage through weakened South Sudan that finds itself unable to build its best schools and functioning economy in the foreseeable future.

Incidentally, there might also be a genuine argument to be made that Kenya has strong desire to see a stable South Sudan that can join East African Community to foster a vibrant regional trade and essentially hopes that this peace proposal may bring stability back to the young nation. But how could Kenyan armed forces’ incursion into South Sudan’s border town of Nadapal be explained in egalitarian terms if weakening of South Sudan to find itself too weak to protect its border frontiers is not the end goal? It utterly defies the logic to soothe one’s soul that Kenya is out to do South Sudanese any good. This assumption is totally belied by the facts on the ground with annexation of South Sudanese land and sponsorship of a destabilizing peace proposal.

My firm conviction is the IGAD Plus deal that was just signed a few weeks ago blesses instability and ensures continued South Sudanese presence in Kenya. Might I be wrong? Of course, social science does not have black and white answers. But you better empirically push back against this argument now!

On the same token, a similar argument could be made about Uganda but over the years Uganda has found its security/economic interests assured by the South Sudan Government. It thus stayed away from any coalition that has shown its strong desire to weaken if not bring down the South Sudan Government.

(5) The Republic of Eritrea There is no strategic imperative that explains why Eritrea should be in this coalition at all since it does not border South Sudan. A clear fact is both countries, well when South Sudan was still an autonomous region, used to be allies but the duo ended up in a very painful divorce — an enmity that is only second to South Sudan secession from Sudan. It is therefore a given that this marginal country would join the coalition of regional and global powers that have stacked their cards against South Sudan Government. And thus IGAD Plus bandwagon!
(C) What Do These Players Have in their Tool Kits to Punish President Kiir Had He Walked Away from the Deal?

Nothing or very little in their tool kits and I will get to it in a second. Logically, now that we know what the IGAD Plus Coalition Partners are and what motivates them to stack their cards against South Sudan, let’s get to what they are capable of doing if President Kiir had stood firm against their proposal. Further, let’s assume the President had the wherewithal to walk away from the deal, and these players are contemplating taking punitive measures against the South Sudan Government.

Well, we have to begin with the central thesis that only the United States is in the driver’s seat here and whatever course of action that gets taken has to be okayed by the world super power. So what would have been the United States’ wish to see happened to South Sudan Government at such eventuality? Strategically speaking, it is an open secret that the United States would have tried (and it had tried) to see President Kiir and his government removed from power. But President Obama is not strategically positioned to create another Libya in South Sudan when the jury is now out that Gaddafi was actually much better for Libya and that Obama’s NATO backed ouster of Gaddafi is now considered a huge mistake by geopolitical analysts.

So what could the coalition have done in order to pressure President Kiir to either sign the peace deal or be removed from power? Ultimately, here is a non-exhaustive list of punitive measures that the coalition could have put on the table except that such measures would have been either too infeasible or toothless to coerce the President to cave to the coalition’s expectations.
(1)   The Targeted Sanctions against South Sudan Government Key Players This punitive measure has already been unilaterally undertaken against key generals at the war theater —- Gen. Marial Chanuong and Militia General Peter Gatdet were the first to get sanctioned by the United States. Immediately after the United States targeted sanctions were announced, the European Union followed with its own targeted sanctions against those two plus other generals on the frontlines on both sides of the conflict.

It is quite possible that the coalition under the United States leadership and European Union could expand the list of sanctionable government key players to include the President and his top cabinet members. The sanctions might involve restricted travels and asset freezes as well as other measures that could undermine the ability of these players to lead their normal lives or execute state official duties.

But the question worth asking is would that have brought down the Government of South Sudan? The answer is an absolute NO as the chances of these targeted sanctions being implemented were perfectly zero.

But assuming the IGAD Plus Coalition Opted to pursue this option, logically there were two ways in which these targeted sanctions could have been executed by the coalition partners. First, the UN Security Council’s resolution authorizing the targeted sanctions would have been one way to get this done. If this were to happen, this could have proven at least effective as the United Nation sanctions would compel member states to execute those sanctions should the targeted individuals end up within their borders for one reason or another. But the chances of this resolution getting through the UN Security Council would have been basically nil with China prepared to do everything it can to veto such a resolution.

Nonetheless, the downside with playing China as a cushion or insurance policy against the United Nations’ sanctions is China can only stop this resolution up to a certain point. And the worry with faltering China’s backing at the Security Council is its position in stopping this particular and/or similar resolutions is contingent upon getting its unimpeded flow of 70% of South Sudan’s oil into its fast developing economy to which America as the would be sponsor of this or similar resolutions could buy off China’s veto for Iranian’s oil that is soon coming to the world market after the US-Iranian’s nuclear deal. With China abstaining, the US would only need 9 votes to pass the resolution and it would have gotten those votes by buying off votes from weak and needy countries on the council as long as it also persuaded Russia to abstain as well. But it would have been highly unlikely that the coalition partners reached this far without a better deal reached by the warring parties back in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Second, seeing the UN option out of reach, the United States and the IGAD Plus Coalition Partners would have had no choice but executed unilateral targeted sanctions against the named government officials. But the chances of such unilateral sanctions getting executed by Uganda, Rwanda and other weary African states would have been perfectly nil.

That would have given President Kiir administration wherewithal to absorb little pressure here and there and still come out victorious by the end of the day.
(2)   The Arm Embargo and Economic Sanctions against South Sudan The economic sanction resolution which has been overtly said times and again by the IGAD plus Coalition Partners especially by the United States would still have been too difficult to get through the United Nations’ Security Council especially against China’s veto. As long as China is continually pumping 70% of South Sudan’s oil into its fast growing economy, China would have stalled any resolution that wanted to cut off South Sudan’s oil from the world market (albeit 70% of it to China’s economy).

Maybe the arm embargo resolution would have gotten through the UN Security Council but who would have implemented it anyway with Ugandan border open to South Sudan? This still would have been totally toothless even if it would have come to be! This is because Uganda and Rwanda would have still played the roles of arm conduits to the Government of South Sudan. And President Obama would have done very little to twist Museveni’s or Kagame’s arms to give way to his expectations.
(3)   The IGAD Plus Coalition Military Action against South Sudan Government The other option is military action that would been brought to bear on the Government of South Sudan. This could have taken different forms. The first form of military action against South Sudan and which I have been hearing from my family members both in Bor and Juba is the idea of the United States committing its boots on the ground with the sole purpose of toppling the Government of South Sudan.

This would have been the least likely of all military options as it would have failed all the litmus tests that subject the United States military to foreign wars and occupations. This is because there is no United States’ vital national interest, either security or economic, at stake in South Sudan. There are no terrorists operating in South Sudan that could justify the United States security imperative to intervene in South Sudan’s military conflict and especially on the side of ethnic based rebellion. Further, there is no economic interest at stake either as 70 percent of the only vital South Sudan’s export commodity (petroleum) is exported to China. But more importantly, the United States is now energy efficient with its own shale oil coming on line thereby making the world super power a net exporter of oil for the first time since World War II. And with Iranian’s oil soon flowing to the world market as per the US-Iranian nuclear deal, the United States could care less about who gets the South Sudanese oil. Sincerely speaking, the United States does not need South Sudan’s oil now. If these two United States’ vital interests are not at stake in South Sudan and they aren’t, then mark out the United States’ boots on the ground in South Sudan.

Alternatively, there could be an argument to make in favor of targeted bombings of key military and government sites just in the same manner in which the United States helped the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya but the manner in which Libya has descended in chaos after the fall of Gaddafi’s regime makes it highly unlikely that the United States would have considered a similar military adventure against a three year old nascent state in which it has used it diplomatic capital to support its independence. So there would have been no hostile US fire in South Sudan by the end of the day.

This would have left the indirect involvement of the United States through proxies like its regional coalition allies namely Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan as its foster-kids to do the dirty work of ending the South Sudan’s government. But the risks that such eventuality would have raised makes it completely impossible to be even explored by the United States and its coalition allies especially when this military adventure were to be undertaken to remove the South Sudan’s President and replace him with his equally corrupt former subordinate and tribalist in chief, Mr. Riek Machar Teny.

Nevertheless, the risks of proxy war would have been far more impossible to quantify. And this is how the dominoes would have fallen in the event that the United States supported the invasion of South Sudan by its regional neighbors just to remove the Government of South Sudan.

This would have begun with Ethiopia and Kenya joining hands to invade South Sudan along their border frontiers. The Government of South Sudan would have had no choice but resolved to face these foreign invaders with its utmost might. As expected, this invasion of South Sudan would have drawn in Uganda on the side of South Sudan Government and before you knew it you would have had Rwanda following Uganda’s suit in aiding Kiir’s Government. The chances would have been the coalition of South Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda would have likely defeated the alliance of Ethiopia, Kenya, and rebels of Riek Machar. You would have had a situation where Sudan intervened on the side of the anti-South Sudan’s alliance and that would have resulted in a stalemate in South Sudan with untold deaths and destruction of property.

This would have stopped the flow of oil to China’s economy and thus both China and Sudan which are the other top two beneficiaries of South Sudan’s oil below South Sudan would have had their economic interests jeopardized by this regional proxy war.

Further, you would have had a situation where Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda either fight each other in Somalia or withdraw their forces from Somalia to bolster their positions on the frontlines in South Sudan to which Somalia would have been left perfectly in the hands of El Shabab terrorist organization; a development that would have put the United States’ vital national interest in jeopardy.

Geopolitically, both China and Sudan want South Sudan’s oil to flow and they would have been against a military option that escalated the war up to this level. On the same token, the United States grand strategy analysis would have revealed the fallout in Somalia and stalemate in South Sudan and it is highly unlikely that the United States would have escalated the situation that not only jeopardizes its security interest but also results in a destructive protracted regional proxy war in the Nile Valley.

(4)   Covert Support to South Sudan’s Riek Machar’s Rebels

Another argument that would have been made is a covert support to rebels under Mr. Riek Machar as a way to bring down the Government of South Sudan through domestic means and were it to succeed, the fall of the South Sudan Government could have been conveniently attributed to the change of government through domestic military solution.  At such eventuality, the external players could easily claim innocence and non-interference in the domestic affairs of the Republic of South Sudan.

Nonetheless, at least this option has been tried by some of the regional players and it failed flat on its head. The evidences are abound that Sudan has already invested in helping Riek gain upper hand on the battlefields but such covert support has not yielded any meaningful result as the rebellion has been an abject failure. Thus far, Mr. Riek has no major town under his control, and he has only resigned himself to spending more times in foreign capitals than on the battlefields. It isn’t clear what other regional players may have aided the current rebels in fighting the South Sudan Government. The other suspects might be Ethiopia or Eritrea but the evidence to pinpoint what they may have done to aid rebels remains so sketchy that it lacks empirical grounding to be cited as such.

But should that have been the case had the government walked away from the deal? The answer is clearly no for the United States, UK, and Norway. Further, it is highly unlikely that the other regional players would have aided the rebels with powerful equipment as uncertainty about underlying shifting loyalties and realignments would have prevented them from handing over their lethal weapons to rebels in fear of being turned against them in a foreseeable future.

This option too would not have brought down the government of South Sudan either as it hasn’t been successful with regard to Sudan helping multiple armed groups in South Sudan against South Sudan Government.

(5)   Threat of Referrals to ICC or Special Tribunal

The threat of referrals to the ICC or Special Tribunal would have been and it will continue to be the most worrying threat to the key players in the government having seen how a number of African leaders have been referred to and indicted by the ICC or special tribunals in the most recent years. It is a known fact that some cases have resulted in lifetime imprisonments and others annulled or stalled in those courts up to this day.

Nobody wants to have ICC indictment written on his forehead and while there wouldn’t have been a moral ground to only indict key players in the government while exempting Riek and his warlords since Riek has ruined innocent lives going back to his 1990s fateful and treacherous years, such threat of referring government officials to the world legal bodies would have sent a chilling message to President Kiir and his senior leadership members to give way to the IGAD Plus wishes and back down to sign the deal.

But still there wouldn’t have been a moral authority compelling the coalition partners to refer only government officials to the ICC or Special Tribunal while exempting the tribalist in chief, Mr. Riek Machar (and his warlords) whose lust for leadership has ruined many lives of innocent civilians more than had been done by any South Sudanese warlord during the liberation years and after.

Overall, if the President could have stood firm against such empty threats, nothing would have happened to him by the end of the day because those calls for justice to be served would have had to begin with Mr. Riek Machar and not the way around. At the bare minimum, there is no 1991 Bor massacre YouTube video floating around that could be attributed to President Kiir Mayardit!

(6) Flexing of the Coalition Fixed Stance to give way to Genuine but Coercive Diplomacy This leaves on the table the only viable way that would have been brought to bear on the warring parties in the first place. And that is for the coalition to back down after seeing Kiir’s wherewithal to stand up to them and asking for real negotiation of the deal that would have been written by the negotiators and not by mediators or intimidators. This could have meant that the amendments to the IGAD Plus proposal that Uganda put on the table would have been reconsidered instead of being dismissed outright. It could have meant that other suggestions by South Sudanese civil society as well as by religious groups could have been considered and incorporated into the final deal as well.

Sure enough, there is no question, Mr. Riek Machar, would have come out with his first vice presidency position intact because the United States would have wanted face saving measures to assuaged Riek’s self-esteem. But the balkanization of South Sudan that has been enshrined in this sham peace deal would have been scrapped from the honest, real, and final deal. Unfortunately, the deal is inked by the President and that means this honest and genuine diplomatic option is a foregone wishful thinking.

(D) Concluding Remarks

To recap the argument I laid out in this paper, I passionately believe the President has missed his best opportunity to show the United States and its IGAD Plus Coalition Partners that South Sudan is not a puppet state whose destiny is subject to the whims of external players. It is a nation that has been bled for by its martyrs and is inherited by knowledgeable and able heirs who can determine its destiny. History has shown time and again during the liberation struggles that South Sudanese are capable of figuring things out for themselves only if left to their own devices and deliberations. External players only come in to help South Sudanese chart their way forward! It should have been the case with the IGAD Plus sponsored peace negotiation.

At least the experience of the CPA negotiation would have been a living case study for the President because the United States once showed this impatience and pressured Dr. Garang to sign the CPA with bad stuffs in it but Dr. Garang to his credit, hanged tight and put Americans back onto their rightful seats as mediators. Don’t we remember that Americans once wanted self-determination for South Sudan, Abyei, and Southern Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan protocols excluded from the CPA final deal in order to move the negotiation forward? Didn’t Dr. Garang ask Americans to chill out? And didn’t he eventually get those protocols into the final CPA deal and one of which has resulted in the independence of South Sudan? Would we have a nation today had Dr. Garang relented and given way to our American backers? Of course, those protocols were incorporated into the final deal and we have the Republic of South Sudan today! Well, President Kiir should have known better (as the signatory of the 2002 Machakos Protocol (the first CPA protocol) that nailed the self-determination of Southern Sudan after 6 years of interim period) that sometimes our American friends are naturally impatient patrons who could sometimes pressure one to rush to the decisions that may not be the best for one’s own country.

In light of this historical vantage point, the American pressure on President Kiir to sign the IGAD Plus peace proposal was one of those unwarranted pressures born out of Americans’ natural impatience to see things done. The President should have hanged tight for a few more weeks or even months to have that proposal cleaned up of those aforementioned bad stuffs.

Patriotically speaking, nobody wants a failed state unless you are Mr. Riek Machar who would rather lose South Sudan short of becoming the president. Nobody wants a weakened central government with chunks of oil rich territories divided among warlords or South Sudanese politicians based on their tribal backings (and sheer numbers) except Mr. Riek Machar. No South Sudanese wants a nation with two budgets, two armies, and foreigners sitting on the cabinet to scrutinize national cabinet deliberations and still thinks it is a sovereign state except Mr. Riek Machar and his apologists.

Oh well, here we are after the IGAD Plus proposal has been inked by the President as the official document ending the South Sudan’s 20 month civil war. We can only hope that the things we fear will bedevil this nation as per the balkanizing clauses in this peace deal (see Santino Ayuel Longar’s analysis on his facebook’s wall) do not come to fruition. We should pray like no hell to hope that this deal brings real peace to South Sudan. I will be the first person to admit my error of judgment and that is what I sure wish to happen when this peace deal is implemented by the aforementioned players.

All in all, the President should have held his ground and pushed for a real peace because all the things that he was threatened about weren’t going to happen to him.

Akol Aguek Ngong is an International Student Advisor and Designated School Official at the University of Vermont. He holds a Master’s Degree in Government from Harvard University and another Master’s Degree in Business from the University of Vermont. He is the leader of Bor County Diaspora in the United States.”

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