By Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey
Member of Parliament
After the failure of the Inter Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD), in April 2014, to reach a peace deal capable to end war, instead the IGAD had to call off the negotiations and asked the parties to return to Juba. In less than three months, the IGAD mediators composed a draft document, known as a “compromise agreement.” The draft fully matured and officially distributed to the parties as the Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, ARCISS. After serious scrutiny of the ARCISS, it appeared that the SPLM IO and FD/G10 might have contributed ideas in support of the draft.
The Government (the ruling SPLM) did not participate, confirming the fact that there were no negotiations and, therefore, no agreement on any draft by the warring parties.
The reading of the SPLM, the South Sudanese people and the world was that: “It is not a genuine peace deal, but an intended conspiracy to destroy the Government and South Sudan.” Despite the “bad faith” design, the President of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit, agreed to commit the country to peace by signing the IGAD’s tailored document on 17 August 2015.
The South Sudanese, being popularly committed to peace, unanimously backed the President. The President was fully aware that the drafters of the agreement did not intend to bring the warring parties together in order to end war, but had planned a hot pursuit to change the elected Government through violence and rebellion.
The President was totally aware of IGAD-Troika’s political double standards in supporting democracy in one hand and military dictatorships on the other. The President politely attached a document stating disappointment on some articles and sections of the Agreement, but IGAD, AU and UN Security Council rejected the President’s reservations with unprofessional arrogance. They were diplomatically very unfair to the President and the Republic of South Sudan. I must emphasize here that in accordance with the UN Charter, a member state is respected and listened to in matters concerning his or her country. It was a clear UN involvement in the internal affairs of South Sudan. The President did not condemn the IGAD or UN for their undiplomatic behavior.
The President ignored and acquiesced over a classified conspiracy to change the regime. Known accredited ambassadors to Juba were part of the conspiracy and the rebellion. In a nutshell, the President said “avoid confrontation with them, they are not for us. They want the rebels to take over the Government.” Correct reading of the conspiracy.
The implementation of this agreement, packed with controversial issues, may not respect the timetable set for the transition target. The implementation schedule was set to begin on 31 March 2016, but it dragged on until 29 April 2016, the date Dr. Riek Machar arrived in Juba. In fact the implementation pre-transition should have started following the signing of the Agreement by the President. The period between the signing and the setting up of the Government of national unity (August 2015 to April 2016) should have been designated for the “pre-transitional period.” The Join Evaluation and monitoring Commission, JEMC, skipped this period, thus rendering the country into security confusion.
Implementing a difficult agreement like this one requires a nationalistic stance. The parties, I think, are aware of the fact that the agreement was not a product of a “give and take” among the parties, but from a group of foreigners and South Sudanese disgruntled politicians. That is why the ceasefire and security arrangements has not been in effected and supervised accordingly. Failure of the parties to automatically adapt the assumptive timetable could slowdown the implementation process. The parties should take security as the primary requisite for peace to succeed, unless some of them have hidden agenda.
The agreement speaks of two separate armies in separate garrisons for 18 months, but we are not seeing garrisons being set up at the moment. Instead, we are only witnessing arms soldiers pouring into Juba for protection of Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the presumptive leader of the SPLM IO. It is not clear whether the SPLA IO has real rebel army. The rebel’s soldiers we see in Juba are only bodyguards, protecting individual leaders.
The claims of cantonments have shifted from Upper Nile to Equatoria region and Western Bahr Al Ghazal States in a form of new wave of violence, directed against innocent members of the Dinka community. The New Transitional Government must see into it that the security arrangements are put in place before any thing else. It is quite meaningless and even boring, for politicians to continue lying and misleading the public by releasing falsified statements: “the guns are silenced.” Untrue! The guns are not silenced and will not be silenced, until the ceasefire and the security arrangements are put in place. The war has not stopped in Equatoria, Western Bahr Al Ghazal and Upper Nile. Obscure arms groups, who are seeking recognition from SPLM IO, are violently causing insecurity in Wau, Raga, Western Equatoria, Yei and Juba town. The public is seeking information to whether this group identification with SPLA IO is true. So many people doubt the sincerity of this group because the war from 2013 to 2015, was only confined to greater Upper Nile region.
The Government should determine the identity of this group by getting assurances from the SPLM IO that the “bandits causing insecurity havoc are theirs or not their rebels.” This assurance can enable the government to take necessary measures to end the banditry all over the country. The security arrangements are not on the ground. More efforts are really needed from the mediators to manage the SPLM IO to stop and control their forces, if the really have forces.
South Sudan will not, whatsoever, get what it wants from foreigners like the IGAD plus mediators who do not know the length and breadth of our country, let alone the people. We should not allow foreigners to interfere in our internal affairs because we know their mission is to infiltrate our national security. Let us assume that the intention of the mediators from the beginning was to end the war and to have in place, a genuine and credible peace. South Sudanese people are for peace. They do not want war, destruction or death.
The Government of National Unity should now translate the people’s will into real peace with commitment that the leaders of this government will adopt spirit of national dialogue in resolving the issues related to security, political, economical and social maters. Such a spirit, if adopted by the leaders could illuminate the road to the permanent peace.
To successfully implement the agreement, in spite of the hiccoughs, Transitional Government of National Unity should rise above their personal and ethnic interest uphold the national interests in the top priority list. This priority list could begin with the national security in order to restore peace back to the bleeding country.
The follow institutions and issues need urgent attention, action and necessary administrative input from the Government within the transition to bring the parties close to peace, reconciliation and confidence building:
- Law enforcement agencies
- The Judiciary
- Insuring freedoms, human rights and sustainable democracy
- Transitional legislations
- The National Constitutional Review Commission
- National census
- Election Commission
- Political, economic, social and cultural reforms
- Foreign relations
The period prescribed by the agreement for the implementation is thirty months, starting from 29 August 2015 to August 2018. The agreement is loaded with issues, many of which the Government cannot skip or ignore. Looking at the bullets above, one can conclude that all the issues are the key to peaceful settlements and therefore need immediate reforms and new energies to begin to function again. The transitional restoration of peace to where it was in December 2013 is a huge task, contentious, demanding and very urgent. Security tops the list because it was the most devastated. The security fabric has been broken down: SPLA is divided into two, the police and the rest of the organized forces are also divided. The country security forces are living in confusion and suspicious of one another. Cessation of hostilities and security arrangements should be firmly made to hold in order to set up a solid foundation for a lasting and sustainable peace.
It is from this security arrangements that a strong national army (SPLA) can reemerge. The SPLA needs urgent reunification in order to face the current regional and international threats, posed by the world terrorism. The SPLA needs complete reorganization, training, orientation and transformation, to conform to national aspirations. Such reforms shall strengthen and solidify the SPLA to attend to its national duties, thus avoiding being lured into political anarchy and violence by politicians (15 December 2013 military coup in point). The SPLA, as a lead national institution, is expected to play a national role not less then protecting the national interests and sovereignty. The police, the provider of the internal security, crimes prevention and the law enforcement agent, share intelligence roles with the SPLA and national security.
It co-ordinates and co-operates with the Judiciary as well. These national roles are important for development of civil liberties, freedoms and democracy, fulfilling national pledge to build a free and prosperous society.
The Government of National Unity should also consider urgent reforms to reorganize the police and Judiciary. The police are the main law enforcement agents. The police are the key to justice and the rule of law. The parties should seriously attend to the police reforms in order to enforce law and order and to commit and protect the abuses to freedoms, human rights, rule of law and democracy by the executive. During this transitional period, the police should take top priority in manpower training and administrative facilitation to take charge of crimes prevention, investigations of cases and bringing criminals to law and justice.
The linkage between the police and the judiciary should be strongly maintained. The independence of Judiciary provides the true justice, not only for the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, but also for the region and the world at large. The Judicial independence is a very important instrument in a free, just and democratic society in the changing world. Hopefully, the parties leading the transition are expected to commit and declare the “independent of the judiciary.”
Article 124 (subsections 1-9) of the National Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan states: “The Judiciary shall be independent of the executive and the legislature.” This independence is inclusive of budgetary and financial administration; under this constitution the judges have the leverage to apply the law “without political interference.” The executive and the legislative organs must, therefore, respect the “independence of the Judiciary.” The Justices and Judges are individually independent in their official duties and decisions. They Judges uphold the constitution. Despite the clarity of the constitution, Judiciary is not independent from the executive.
Why? Practically, Judiciary is not independent because the Government is not committed to the principle of justice. The failure of the Governments of Southern Sudan and Sudan to recognize and enforce the “Independent of the Judiciary” can be traced into the ideological divide then between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, SPLM, on one hand and the National Congress Party, NCP, on the other hand. It should be recalled that the two parties, SPLM and NCP, had parallel visions and missions: SPLM was/is secular socialist/pan Africanist movement where else the National Congress Party was/is a comprehensive Islamic/pan Arabist movement. Also, both movements happened to have been military dictatorships. Under such systems of governments, Judicial Independence is always the victim.
On 9 January 2005, the SPLM and NCP signed the international landmark agreement: Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA, ending the longest civil war in the world (1955 to 2005). In June 2005, the CPA was incorporated into the Islamic Constitution of the Sudan and it became the law of the land. The amended Islamic constitution was designated to govern Sudan and Southern Sudan during the interim period (June 2005 to 2011). Although the CPA was said to have indirectly strengthened and extended the life of the Islamic government, yet it created secular system of government for Southern Sudan within the Islamic Sudan.
Based on this interim constitution, President Omer Hassan Al Bashir formed the Government of National Unity for the Sudan and Southern Sudan on 21 July 2005. He appointed Dr. John Garang de Mabior, the Chairman of the SPLM, as first Vice President of the National Government and President of the Government of Southern Sudan. The National Legislative Assembly and the Judiciary were reconstituted in Khartoum and in Juba. None of the two leaders mentioned the independence of the Judiciary, in Khartoum or in Juba. But the constitution positively discriminated the South and South Sudanese by a declaration: “Southern Sudan shall be exempted from the Islamic sharia laws.” As the constitution required, the secular Southern Sudan should promulgate its own interim constitution, form its own government, legislative Assembly and the Judiciary.
The Interim constitution for Southern Sudan was then introduced, based fully on secular legislation and the CPA.
On 21 July 2005, Dr. John died in a very unprecedented local helicopter crashed between Uganda and Southern Sudan. The SPLM leadership promptly acted and decided to appoint the Deputy Chairman, First Lt General Salva Kiir Mayardit, as the new Chairman. Based on that decision, President Al Bashir again, appointed General Salva, in replacement of Dr. John, as the First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan and President of the government of Southern Sudan.
After swearing in as the first vice President and President of Southern Sudan interim government, he had to set up an interim cabinet, legislative assembly and the Judiciary along with separate armies, the police and other organized forces. The Judiciary of Southern Sudan was adopted from the SPLM defacto Judiciary whose members were members of the Liberation Council (SPLM Parliament then) including South Sudanese justices and judges from Sudanese courts, indicating that the status quo of the judiciary could continue.
This transition could be tough and dangerous if the parties in power do not respect the timetable and hurriedly inject the needed reforms into the following institutions and issues: The SPLA, the police, judicial independent, liberties, system of government and democracy.
These issues are interrelated and complementary to freedoms and democratic practices. The SPLA is the sovereign defender of the country in matters of national interests. The police maintain the internal security and prevent crimes, enforce the law and make the rule of law practically realistic. Along with an independent judiciary, the police can enforce the law to protect political, social, economic, cultural and general abuses of political power. The independent of judiciary is the true provider of total justice. Thirty months is a very short time in contrast to huge task awaiting the Government to fully implement the peace agreement.
While we have sufficiently discussed and proposed quick and straightforward reforms on security, Independence of the Judiciary, insurance of civil liberties, freedoms and democracy, more work is equally needed on National Census, Constitutional Review Commission and Election Commission.
These institutions are the main democratic institutions that should be fully operational within the 30 months of the transitional period. Because the population of South Sudan has not been counted since January 1956, the time is up now to ascertain correct population. Knowing the country’s population provides for just and equitable distribution of economic resources, wealth sharing, comprehensive development and demarcation of parliamentary constituencies.
The Transitional Government of National Unity, among others, has committed itself, by appointing a minister for federal affairs, to supervise a draft permanent constitution for the Republic of South Sudan, not later than 30 months. The Constitutional Review Commission’s members are expected to be named by the Government within this month or next.
The Commission is designated to find a suitable system of government for South Sudan. It is important to note that the territory, known as South Sudan, is an old territory that existed long before the discovery of African continent and its people.
Since the British and Egyptians reconquest of Sudan in 1898, South Sudan has been ruled through decentralized system of government. It began with three provinces of Bahr Al Ghazal, Upper Nile and Equatoria from 1932 to 1974; six provinces 1974 to 1993; 10 states from 1993 to 2014 and now 28 states in accordance with the present Transitional Constitution and the law. With the rich historical background along with ethnically territorial administrations, the Commission will search for suitable system of government for the Republic of South Sudan.
Meanwhile and during the same period, the Election Commission is assumed to busily organizing itself, readying to demarcate new parliamentary constituencies and conduct elections on time in May 2018. Failure to hold census, promulgate the constitution and conduct elections on time, will mark the dead end of the transition.
Let’s say, after two year war, this agreement may not completely settle the crisis as expected, but our leaders, since they were not architects or the makers of the document, should test the power of South Sudanese nationalism. The Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, ARCISS, was not negotiated on the basis of conventional scientific philosophy and experience: “Give and take exercises.” Foreigners, who identified themselves as goers-in-between the warring parties, were able to impose their own draft “compromise agreement.” But, nevertheless, our leaders felt nationally bound to commit to this agreement, hoping that it might end the senseless war. The same spirit should guide these leaders to forge salvation out of the already contaminated salvation.
We expect them, from now onward, to put the national interests above their personal disputes and political differences. Of course, nationalism is the vehicle of country’s “national interest” inclusive of foreign relations.
Yes! “National interest” is the basic guidance to a healthy foreign policy that governs all nations’ states in their international diplomatic interactions with one another.
As well, it is also a commitment in all sovereign and independent countries where citizens are obliged by constitution and law to exercise their legal rights and duties. This exercise of freedoms, basic rights and duties is the citizenship loyalty and faith to the nation. That was why the people of South Sudan offered their precious blood to buy their freedom and independence from Khartoum (1955 to 2005). The SPLM IO and FDs did not safeguard this citizenry obligation to protect and think “what you can do for your country” and “not what your country can do for you,” borrowed from President John F. Kennedy-in 1960s. Nationals who happened to rank high in the ruling party, SPLM, and very senior ministerial positions from 2005 to 2013 have facilitated foreign infiltration into national security.
This infiltration resulted into a very huge diplomatic breakdown for our country’s relationship with International organizations like UN and its agencies, African Union and many human rights advocates, as well as some regional and international countries.
This breakdown of foreign relations, even with original friends like troika countries (USA, UK and Norway) that supported our movement to the independence in 2011, totally turned their backs to us during the coup and rebellion.
Politicians, leaders of SPLM IO and FDs, who share this Government with SPLM, though they were the participants in governments that followed the CPA from 2005 to 2013, betrayed the country and the elected Government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. Having designed a very nasty and high-level thuggery disinformation, the group (opposition to the regime) launched an unprecedented propaganda against President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Government. They accused him of corruption, failed government, human rights violations, SPLM dictatorship, crimes against humanity, violation of international humanitarian law and genocide. Any one who happened to know these cold war syndromists/anarchically politicians cannot believe. Their empty propaganda had diverted old friends and turned away many, thus depriving the country of international co-operation in economics and security.
The Government of National Unity should now revise and declare a new foreign policy, defusing the whole propaganda and lies circulated by the enemies.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Deng Alor Kuol, should offensively lead such corrections in foreign relations and co-operation. Hon. Deng should also check the conduct of foreign diplomats and ambassadors in Juba. They seem to have no limit in their diplomatic approach. They must be subjected to the international law that should regulate their official and private activities. Practically, the foreign ambassadors, regional and international agencies like AU, UN are expected to make their official businesses through their designated Departmental desks in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is not the order of issues in Juba. The diplomats are not following the law to extend that some of them could discuss local politics for or against the government. The Government should reprimand them to pay attention and direct them to respect this country and its leadership.
As stated in this article, the task of the Government of National Unity is very clear in accordance with the constitution and Agreement. Among these issues are:
- Security arrangements
- Total cessation of hostilities and ethnic violence
- The law enforcement agency (police)
- The Independent of the Judiciary
- Insuring freedoms, human rights and sustainable democracy
- Transitional legislations
- National Constitutional Review Commission
- National Census
- Election Commission
- Economic and financial reforms
- Foreign Affairs
To answer the predictive question: Will the Transitional Government of National Unity survive the tasks and challenges?
My answer to this question is two faces of one coin: Yes and No with clarifications regarding the “if sentences.”
Yes. The Government of National Unity can survive. After its formation on the 29th of April 2016, the leadership of the SPLM, Salva Kiir Mayardit, along with SPLM IO leader, Dr. Riek Machar Teny and other parties’ leaders, got a unanimous support from all the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan. That support was truly genuine because South Sudanese are united on peace and against violence and war. This was a show test to the Government that “we are behind you in peace and against you in war.” In other words, “we need your solidarity” and adaptation of the principle and world philosophy of political science: “the cabinet collective responsibility.” Thereafter, the Government can hopefully, work together with the people to achieve this common mission: “peace and unity for our country.”
This emotional national support for peace and unity can strengthen the leadership to find a way forward and save the country. The success of the Government, in this particular task and challenges, shall translate into nationalism and national will of leadership and people to retrieve and uphold their country from slipping away into limbo and disappearance. The efforts of the Government to successfully implement this Agreement within the prescribed period of thirty months, shall be warmly receive by the citizens, friends and enemies together. Such a national action will restore our national greatness which we collectively and consistently established during the world longest civil war of liberation in African continent (1955-2005).
Successful implementation of the priority issues on time: security arrangements and reunification of the SPLA and other security organs, census, final agreement on system of government and passage of the permanent constitution and successful conduct of free and democratic elections could be the cornerstone to the Government success and eventual survival.
No. Failure to fully implement the top priority issues, especially security and unification of the SPLA, stated above, the country may go back to square one (15 December 2013-17 August 2015). Or else the parties may agree to continue and extend the life of the same agreement.
Assuming that the parties disagree and disown the agreement, with two separate SPLA and SPLA IO, will mean resumption of hostilities. But, nevertheless, any another war could be avoided if the present leadership in the Government is fully reconciled, resumed their historical nationalism, rose above non-national disputes, rebuilt their confidence and dealt with national contentious issues through dialogue and decisions by consensus in order to save nothing else, but the country they had fought for.
In a situation like what we are experiencing in South Sudan, a collective concern of all the citizens could be the strongest stand that cannot be infiltrated by enemies “united we stand, divided we fall.” Goes the scientific principle of the national solidarity.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE GOES THE SAYING