Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 5 October 2017

Why President Kiir is the real obstacle to peace

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By Clement Maring Samuel

Every South Sudanese born before December 2013 knew what transpired in Juba following the outbreak of the conflict between Salva Kiir and Riak Machar which was bent on innocent Nuer and subsequently retaliated on innocent Dinka in Bor, and counter-retaliation in Malakal and Bentiu. Any child born on December 13th-19th have been whispered into their ears by the Angels of God that Salva Kiir have caused genocide to innocent Nuer because of a political difference with Riak Machar and Taban Deng Gai. If one could ask himself or herself, what is it? Power? Fame? Money? Or promotion of one’s tribe? Such speculative questions and much more could leave one’s mind in a state of in-equilibrium. It is insane to target innocent civilians to suffer immensely just because the political opponent hailed from their tribe. This is weird behaviour; it rubs away the love of humanity and patriotism. It will be very hard for a leader to appeal for unity after butchering people like animals. The key actors in the arena here are President Kiir, Riak Machar and Taban Deng Gai and the Jieng Council of Elders. The situation in the country has divided people and put them into an awkward situation. There are those who are neither SPLM-IO nor SPLM-IG, they live in a cloud of accusation of supporting the SPLM-IO or SPLM-IG. Some players could not decide where to be and made to linger as spectators and sympathizers but other worst groups are the spoilers and sycophants.

When the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), offered to mediate between the warring parties and reached to the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS). The deal was signed by the SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO parties in August 2015 for the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). The main signatories were President Salva Kiir and Riak Machar, but president Kiir signed the deal with reservations.

The Midwifery of the ARCSS implementation, i.e. IGAD, left these reservations loosely uncheck and allowed president Kiir to manipulate the agreement. He abrogated the ARCSS following an attack at Statehouse in Juba known as the J1 on July 8th, 2016. Riek Machar was chased out of Juba, and his house vandalized. This act indicates government’s intention to kill Riak Machar, had he not ran for his life. After being chased and pursued for 40 days, no government’s top official’s house was vandalized. Kiir’s house was not vandalized; Kuol Manyang’s, Wani Igga’s and Paul Malong’s houses were not vandalized. And the Statehouse has never attacked again. This was a real attempt to assassinate Riak Machar, but his god of Ngundeng pleaded not guilty to the Almighty God in heaven to forgive and protect him. President Kiir then replaced him with his deputy Taban Deng Gai as first vice president, and Taban Deng Gai made himself the chairman of the SPLM/A-IO.

President Kiir and Taban Deng Gai subsequently formed the Transitional Government of National unity without Riek Machar, who left a gap that Taban Deng Gai could not fill. Two people have spoilt this deal, first, Salva Kiir lacks the political will to implement the ARCSS, and second, the greed for power by Taban Deng Gai who jumped into the position of his boss amidst fragile situation. With this chaotic situation, fighting intensified into Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile. More opposition groups rose against the government, which made the conflict to shift from Nuer-Dinka project to national character. This resulted in famine, unnecessary killing and genocide, destruction, social unrest, rape, and massive displacement. Attempts of ending the conflict were futile. The following reasons show why Kiir and Taban Deng Gai are the real obstacles to peace in South Sudan other than Riak Machar.

1. President Kiir lack political will to implement the ARCSS roadmap

When President Kiir Signed the August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) with reservations, an indication that he was not committed to implementing it. Like the Addis Ababa agreement of 1972, the ARCSS was dishonoured in July 2016.

2. Kiir collaborated with spoilers of peace and chased away the one who could end the conflict

In line with the sinister of the Jieng Council of Elders, President Kiir had conspired with Taban Deng Gai to create a scenario where they could chase away Riak Machar in order to replace him with Taban Deng Gai. After the July crisis, President Kiir swiftly replaced Riak Machar with Taban Deng amidst chaotic situation instead of mitigating the delicate matter. They should have allowed JMEC under auspice of IGAD to handle it. Taban Deng Gai was overwhelmed with lust for power, plotted against his chairman and ousted him from the position of First Vice President as well as chairman of SPLM/A-IO. President Kiir and Taban Deng Gai had miscalculated that if Riek Machar was present in Juba, would jeopardize peace and they presented him as an obstacle to stability, but the opposite is the reality. President Kiir and Taban Deng Gai have conspired with the US and the Regional Leaders to exile Machar in South Africa, but his troops continue to fight in South Sudan, and Taban Deng Gai could not control the SPLA/IO forces from fighting the government as he assumed to have the capability to woo the SPLA-IO forces in the side of Riek to his side. Taban Deng Gai in effect is the potential spoiler of the peace agreement. Yet, Kiir elbowed him in anticipation that he is capable to mobilize the SPLA-IO Forces who are in the bush into the government’s side, but the theory and the deal have proven ineffective. President Kiir has not diagnosed the right pill; he chose the wrong one and chased away the right pill in fear that he is a threat to his seat but undermining the snake inside a green glass. Behind Kiir’s, the mind is a defense of his seat, but not the defence of the people of South Sudan.

3. Kiir favours National Dialogue to counter the revitalization process of the ARCSS to manoeuvre his ways and escape Justice

Pursuant for a just solution to end the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, the Mid-wife, IGAD came up with Revitalization of the ARCSS on May 22nd, 2017. In contrast, President Salva Kiir Mayardit launched the National Dialogue to manoeuvre his ways in guise of seeking a lasting solution to peace in South Sudan. The intent was purported to counter the Revitalization of the ARCSS with the National Dialogue-to enable him manipulate the team that oversees the process of the National Dialogue. Since the ARCSS implementation had collapsed in July 2016, it is necessary that it is revived to include the views of the other marginalized groups in the country to incorporate National character because the fighting groups are not limited to SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO, but to the rest of the Opposition groups. This idea is rejected by Salva Kiir Mayardit who has a fixed mind in his National Dialogue of which he has full faith to address and resolve all issues facing the country. The intent of Kiir to replace the Revitalization of the ARCISS with the National Dialogue only befits his interest and the interests of his beneficiaries. National Dialogue per-se is not a bad idea at all, but the circumstances by which it was launch were not favourable for the free exchange of ideas by all stakeholders. On the other hand, he is running away from strings of justice that would hook him and his officials who have perpetrated the crimes during spark of the conflict in December 2013 to present Juba if the ARCSS be implemented in letter and spirit. It is this fears that he resisted the ARCSS in favour of the National Dialogue, and for this case, he becomes an obstacle to peace.

4. Kiir is adamant to reconcile with Riak Machar for the interest of peace

President Kiir initiative of the national dialogue is a very good idea, but he has a negative intention towards his political foe Riek Machar. In his own words, he said, "National dialogue in my view is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan can gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, and sense of belonging," "In the light of national endeavor, I am calling upon all of you to forgive one another, enter dialogue with one another in your personal capacities, embrace yourself," he added "I am asking you, the people of South Sudan to forgive me for any wrong I might have committed." “Experiences have shown that South Sudanese can dialogue” "no grievances will be left undressed in this process." “Armed opposition groups, will be invited to take part in the dialogue….except Riek Machar”. He insists that the proposed national dialogue would be an open forum at which all issues affecting South Sudan would be addressed and resolved. All issues here means; all issues affecting the country including their unforgivable differences with Riak Machar, but not the other way round.
Kiir has said it very well that, "National dialogue in his view is both a forum and process through which the people of South Sudan can gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood, and sense of belonging,” If the people of South Sudan can gather to redefine the basis of their unity as it relates to nationhood and sense of belonging, why is it very difficult for President Kiir Mayardit to redefine his unity with Riek Machar and relate with him for nationhood and sense of belonging?

He went on to say, "In the light of national endeavor, I am calling upon all of you to forgive one another, enter dialogue with one another in your personal capacities, embrace yourself,” If President Salva Kiir Mayardit is appealing for the people of South Sudan to forgive and dialogue with one another and embraced themselves in the spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood, why is it very hard for Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar to forgive each other and enter into dialogue among themselves in the interest of the people of South Sudan?

Kiir pleaded that "I am asking you, the people of South Sudan to forgive me for any wrong I might have committed." This plight is a good gesture from the president, it shows some sense of remorse, but it is not complete because to some extent he is not sincere by saying, “I might have committed’’ instead of “I have committed”, to fully acknowledge the mistakes he committed. In the same spirit, the people of South Sudan expect him to extend the same apology to his political foe Riek Machar Teny, the person whom they have political differences that brought about the current war.

Kiir said, “Experiences have shown that South Sudanese can dialogue”. He recalled his disagreement with late SPLM leader John Garang in 2004, the return of Riek Machar to SPLM in 2002, SPLM convention of 1994 and Dinka and Nuer communities’ conference of 1999 as evidence of the viability of locally led peace initiatives. If experience is the best teacher, why is he not using the same experience to reconcile with Riek Machar? If John Garang could forgive him in 2004, why is he very adamant to forgive his former deputy Riak Machar in the same manner that late Garang forgave him? President Kiir is telling the world that he is better than John Garang de Mabior who reconciled with him in 2004. Why is Kiir not learning from the philosophy which says, “In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies?” Patriotism is learning how to forgive your political enemy even if you are not wrong for the sake of growth of the people and development of a country. The political difference between Kiir and Riak Machar is dragging the country back to 50 years of lag in Development. The people around the Region are laughing and mocking us. His counterpart Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, of Uganda, is mocking us that “the problem in South Sudan is attributed to pseudo-ideology”. President Kiir is comfortable with this description as he is comfortably nursing this pseudo-politic in his country.

Kiir promised to address all issues, he said: "no grievance will be left undressed in this process." The promise to address all issues includes their unaddressed grievance with Riek Machar, to give a meaningful promise; otherwise, it is just like the preaching of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who pretend to be expounding the Law but their actions deny it.

Isolating Riek Machar is not a language of peace, but heightening the war. To ostracize Riek Machar from the National Dialogue is not a solution to the problem but worsening it. Kiir said, “Armed opposition groups, will be invited to take part in the dialogue….except Riek Machar”. In an exclusive discussion with the Jieng council of elders, he said “I have succeeded in mobilizing the regional and international community to isolate Riek Machar. The region will not allow him return if he does not renounce violence, which he will not do” on the other hand, he denied excluding Riak Machar from the National Dialogue, “We didn’t really exclude anyone. But for Riek, he knows why. It is not he who is not interested in joining but the whole region does not want him to [join]. That was the agreement because whenever he comes here, he would create a situation that takes people back to war”. If Riek Machar is the problem, yet he is detained in South Africa, why are the SPLA-IO Forces active on the ground? President Kiir should answer the grievances of SPLA-IO Forces that are loyal to Riak Machar and are fighting his government. Riak Machar is a party to the conflict, and therefore; he should be part to find a solution to current conflict because he commands the support of the SPLA-IO Forces even though confined to house arrest in South Africa. Otherwise, both Kiir and Riak Machar should be ostracized if President Kiir thinks that his presence would create instability in the whole region, not just in South Sudan” because Kiir himself is a war monger as opposed to the revitalization of the ARCSS which he broke in July 2016.

5. President Kiir violated his unilateral ceasefire in favour of war

In contrast to a unilateral ceasefire, president Kiir went on an offensive against SPLM-IO positions, a clear violation of the unilateral ceasefire declared by him on May 22. This questions his commitment to reaching peace through the National Dialogue that he instituted. You cannot talk the language of peace in one hand and at the same time opening avenues for war on the other.

Finally, let Salva Kiir Mayardit reflect on what John Garang de Mabior said in Rumbek as his last will, he said: “We have lost all our brothers from the start of the movement. What is left are the two orphans” he continued: “I want you my people, to take care of Salva Kiir. Because he is the one who has remained with me always, loyally, and I entrust you to him”. Being an orphan does not mean that one should behave in a way that abuse ones orphanage. He should remember how many orphans this war has left since the start of the war in December 13th, to present. In real African sense, an orphan who rises to power usually conducts himself in a manner that would not take people back to the state of orphanage. But Kiir’s orphanage is the opposite, he instead slap John Garang on his face to have entrusted upon him the people of South Sudan on his bloody hands. It is time to develop our country; we want to leave legacies that our children and grand children will remember us, but not the legacies of war, killing, hunger, rape, displacement and destruction. As Garang left him to be the last Abeer (orphan) to take care of the people of South Sudan, there are so many Abeer (orphans) caused by his rule who need to be taken care of. The people of south Sudan need peace to take care of those orphans since President Kiir is trampling the last will of his predecessor John Garang de Mabior on the dust.

The writer was a former deputy Governor of Terekeka State, now an Independent Researcher. Can be reached at warun1maring@gmail.com



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