The Prospects of Peace: What are the contentious issues?

Last week I discussed the (1) security arrangements in anticipation of the High-Level Revitalization Forum on 27 August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS), succeed in its endeavour to bring the warring parties together and resign the ARCSS. Having discussed the security arrangements as scenario (1) I shall now discuss scenario (2) Transition.

It is likely that the Republic of South Sudan is going to have a third Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), as soon as the ARCSS revitalization agreement is signed by the warring parties, probably, in June 2018, after which the power-sharing government is constituted to include the SPLM (Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU)), SPLM IO and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA).

We had an Interim Government from 2005 to 2011. We had Elected Government from 2011 to 2013. We had a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) whose term ends in August 2018. Yet, another TGoNU is imminent as soon as the warring parties agreed; even if the parties do not agree, the present TGoNU shall continue in office and prepare for general elections for 2021. But many queries come to the fore: what new performances are expected?

So far South Sudanese and the world have concluded that South Sudan is a failed state. Of course, there are several factors that determined the failure of subsequent governments since 2005.

The first factor that affected South Sudan from the beginning is related to the “old Sudan” from 1956 to 2005. During that period of time, South Sudan was treated as a war zone by governments in Khartoum. For 50 years running, South Sudan remained in limbo, marginalized and neglected by Khartoum in all fields of essential services, economic and social developments. Over and above, the civil war of liberation, from Khartoum/Sudan (1955-2005), devastated this part of Sudan, beyond affordable rehabilitation and repairs, the fragile British/Egyptian’s condominium government infrastructure of 1899-2005. It is to be recalled that from 1956 to 2005, the government of Khartoum was in war with South Sudan, and, therefore. did nothing in terms of infrastructure.

It was only in January 2005 that the US and Western Europeans allies forced Sudan’s government hands to abandon South Sudan in lieu of the Arab-Islamic system of governance for Northern Sudan. Thus the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), was signed between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and National Congress Party (NCP), on 9 January 2005. This agreement provided power sharing between the SPLM and NCP for 6 years. The interim administrative arrangements lured the SPLM, for the first in twenty years, to partner the already decayed nation, failed political economy and an overwhelming poverty.

As South Sudan voted (98.9 %) successfully in the referendum on 9 January 2011 and declared its independence on 9 July 2011, it inherited nothing in terms of viable infrastructure, sound economy and functional institutions. That meant that South Sudan was bound to create and build national institutions from scratch. That being the case, the SPLM leadership took the challenge upon itself to create and build capable institutions to enforce and sustain good governance.

Good governance was not what the SPLM planned to implement. From the beginning, the SPLM leaders in the party and in the government inclined, to employ mysterious experts, unidentified technicians and incompetent-inexperienced posing technocrats foreigners and South Sudanese, to administer national institutions for the first time in their lives. These institutions included the Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, the National Army, Law enforcement agencies, ministries and commissions.

After two years of the SPLM administration, it became clear that the cabinet of the SPLM government had failed discipline and the collective responsibility. Many of the SPLM cabinet ministers did not mind to strictly observe insubordination in regards to the ruling SPLM Chairman and the elected President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit. Those behaviours, coupled with general indiscipline, incompetence, arrogance, assumptions of “I know,” co-ordinated corruption and power-struggle, rendered the Government to a turmoil, inability, standstill and glued paralysis.

But, after identification and verification of these mistakes, President Salva Kiir Mayardit was left with no option, but to dismiss the vice president, Dr Riek Machar and SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amuom, with his group (known today as SPLM Former Detainees, FDs) on 27 July 2013. The division of the SPLM ensued effectively following an attempted coup on 15 December 2013. From then on the Republic of South Sudan slid down into the international group of failed states. The state of the affairs, as we speak, needs the country to come together, once again, in reconciliation, dialogue, peace and security, the last chance which is available with High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Of course, mistakes have been made, knowingly or unknowingly, which led to the present failure. If we honestly and boldly acknowledge those mistakes, we made from 2005-2011, 2011-2013, and 2013-2018, we may be able to correct them and update necessary transformation and basic reforms. Let’s “hope for the best,” ready to avoid those mistakes and disallow them during the new transitional period, for 2018-2021 (God willing). On the bases of our national instincts, we are obliged beyond persuasion, to change our hearts and mental attitudes in order to save this country from total collapse and disappearance.

Having realized and identified the mistakes as (1) (a) inheritance of Khartoum failures should now be abandon and adopt international expertise to revise, restore and adapt the modern secular international standards in dealing with security, politics, economy and social developments; (b) step away from Khartoum’s Authoritarian system which only commits to political and economic exploitation and extraction. This system could be replaced with the free market economy which is sustainable through “inclusive political and economic institutional setup.” This is the system under which liberties, freedoms, democracy, the rule of law, peace and security prosper in the total defeat of poverty.

(2) The mistakes made by the SPLM and its leadership, after capturing the state power from 9 July 2005 to 15 December 2013, must be verified and averted to coop with democratic principles in accordance with the amended SPLM’s Manifesto and Constitution, the National Transitional Constitution and the ARCSS.

The change of the system of governance at this stage shall be meaningful and attractive to the people of South Sudan, who seem to have lost trust and confidence of their leaders on several counts. Many South Sudanese do not support the removal of SPLM’s leadership, per se, but want a change from the present system of governance which they perceive as “a centralised authoritarianism.” They are for a democratic federal system of government, with emphasis: “to be implemented during the incoming transitional period,” from 2018 to 2021.

Next: Power sharing during the Transition.

– Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey

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