Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 12 February 2018

Kiir, Museveni, and the absurdity of revitalizing peace in South Sudan


By Duop Chak Wuol

There are valid reasons to believe that the ongoing revival of the August 2015 power-sharing deal will not succeed. In early 2013, Presidents Salva Kiir and Yoweri Museveni took a blood-oath in Kampala to arrest or kill any potential South Sudanese who refused to succumb to Kiir’s cruelty. The two men are in the same position: ready to deceive, use delaying tactics, and impede the revitalization process. History and publicly available researched data show that most oppressive regimes tend to pursue interests that are not compatible with what their citizens want — it is from this abstract knowledge that Kiir and Museveni are prepared to not engage in any outcome of peace talks unless such a result empowers Kiir’s ruthlessness.

The Ugandan President is a self-proclaimed regional ally of Kiir, a master of deception, and knows how to fool world leaders, particularly Western ones. Museveni, who effectively outmanoeuvred former United States President Barak Obama in South Sudan’s civil war, is ready to subvert any attempt to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. He did this by cunningly telling Obama that South Sudanese rebel leader Dr Riek Machar is the problem, and that isolating him from the East African region would end the war. The accusation was too naked; a lie to be exact. Obama’s refusal to object to Museveni’s decision to fight alongside South Sudan’s tyrant was a monumental mistake. Museveni claimed just days after the war broke out in December 2013 that he was sending his troops to rescue Ugandans who were trapped in the middle of war — a claim that later turned out to be misleading. Museveni’s assertion was a mere smokescreen designed to cover up his known bloody hand in Kiir’s fabricated coup. It is good to remind people that Ugandan troops were already in South Sudan before fighting erupted in Juba.

Museveni, the architect of the South African unlawful detention of Machar, is a very serious tyrant with an extensive list of appalling crimes. The atrocities Museveni committed against the Langi and Acholi people are horrendous. Most South Sudanese blame Yoweri Museveni for his role in the current armed conflict. But dealing with a cold-blooded manipulator is a daunting task. Museveni is a world-class autocrat who knows how to convince Western allies by using devious approaches in an attempt to keep Kiir in power and exploit the young nation’s economic wealth.

Most of Kiir’s followers would argue that the Ugandan leader did nothing wrong and that blaming him for South Sudan’s crisis is wrong. But this is not a blaming game. I know for a fact that Kiir and his supporters do not want peace. Let us assume criticizing Museveni is a nonsensical game. Let us also presume, for some mysterious reason, that Museveni is a good person who simply decided to support Kiir’s regime. If this is true, then we can conclude that Museveni’s one-sided involvement in South Sudan’s conflict is reasonable. However, this is not the case.

Yoweri Museveni is the co-founder of South Sudan’s civil war. He taught Kiir how to eliminate potential opponents and use unknown gunmen to terrorize people. Museveni also educated Kiir on how to carry out a violent campaign against other ethnicities he deemed a threat to his rather tribal leadership. The two East African bloody allies believe in the annihilation of other ethnicities. In fact, Kiir got most of his policies from Museveni. Museveni is the main investor in Kiir’s atrocious regime, and convincing him to abandon Kiir requires a collective strategy from peace partners.

It is a known fact that Salva Kiir and Yoweri Museveni are renowned cruel tyrants who are fascinated with an iron-fisted leadership style. For one to think that the restoration of peace will succeed is not just absurd, but purely imaginary. Museveni’s pledge to keep Kiir in power is real. He recently called for urgent elections in South Sudan. He claimed in his rather scandalous appeal to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres that the only way to end South Sudan’s civil war is by conducting elections, which I believe will not bring an end to the ongoing armed conflict. There is nothing wrong with calling for elections, but conducting elections in South Sudan at this time would be pure baloney. Anyone who thinks consciously would not dare to call for elections under the current circumstances. South Sudan is simply too dangerous to hold elections.

Museveni is also known for being a calculating intriguer. For peace to come to South Sudan, the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African Union (AU), Troika countries, and the international community must confront the Ugandan leader and tell him to stop his destructive policy on South Sudan. The South Sudanese did not wage war against Khartoum’s regime only to introduce Museveni’s tyranny. Museveni’s involvement in South Sudan’s internal affairs cannot be rationally justified. His decision to protect Juba’s regime is mainly influenced by South Sudan’s economic potential. In exchange, Kiir took a script from Museveni’s purging doctrine to silence his adversaries and treat other tribes as less important.

Most organized societies are not shaped by everyone, but rather by determined individuals who embrace togetherness, prioritize national issues, and reject any policy deemed to be disparaging. In any structured society, subjugating people based on their tribal roots always carries a political, economic, or social risk. I believe that most peaceful nations understand the goodness of diversity. Kiir’s decision to champion ethnic supremacy has destroyed South Sudan. I believe that the revitalization of peace is probably the best alternative to rescue South Sudan from the hands of the two dictators. But, beware that Museveni is prepared to use his deceptive skill to convince the international community that Salva Kiir is for peace when in fact the opposite is true. In addition, I believe that real peace could be achieved in South Sudan if other East African nations, Troika, AU, and key players in the peace talks publicly denounced Museveni’s egocentric policy. Peace could also be achieved by imposing targeted sanctions on Uganda.

There is an urgent need for peace to return to South Sudan. Too many people have died as a result of Kiir’s self-made war. But Salva Kiir and Yoweri Museveni are not ready for peace. It is implausible to think that the two leaders would pursue the revival of peace. Kiir and Museveni prefer a scheming method that allows them to lure Machar and the rebel leadership to Juba and eliminate them for good. All peace partners who are credible and impartial must not allow Kampala and Juba to deceive them again. The 2016 Juba one (J1) war must not be permitted to repeat itself. Only a conscience-deprived person would trust Museveni in South Sudan’s peace negotiations. The July 2016 fighting was well-calculated. Kiir and Museveni are not limited to using different elimination technique against the leadership of the armed opposition. There are just too many killing scripts on Museveni’s dictatorial ring and Kiir could use one of them if they managed to fool the international community again. South Sudanese rebels, for their part, must not allow the mistake of 2016.

Peace is all about compromise, but it does not mean surrendering your security to a cruel rival. The Republic of South Sudan cannot be allowed to be ruled by a world-class Ugandan manipulator and a world-class South Sudanese hoodlum. Kiir’s seemingly tribal presidency is no different from mafia-rule. Kiir’s and Museveni’s governments are among Africa’s most repressive regimes. For peace to prevail, the international community must stand with the people of South Sudan to force the two tyrants to accept the revitalization of the 2015 pact and execute its results. The South Sudanese did not fight to gain a Uganda-run tyrannical state; they fought to gain an independent democratic South Sudan. South Sudan’s puppet master, Museveni, must not be allowed to keep banking on South Sudanese blood.

The author can be reached at duop282@gmail.com.

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