By Duop Chak Wuol
Salva Kiir claims his government does not have the necessary financial means to finance the implementation of the September 2018 peace agreement and demands that the international community finance the process so that peace will prevail. It is no secret that the rationality of investing money in the execution of the deal has many contending interpretations. If Kleptocracy needs a new mother, then any coherent South Sudanese would argue that their government’s assertion of having no money for the enactment of peace is merely one of many Kleptocratic qualifications Juba’s regime needed to give birth to a new and more aggressive modern Kleptocracy. This would be a Kleptocracy that impedes the execution of the pact, curbs reform, maintains tyranny, justifies looting of national coffers, and effectively transforms South Sudan into a thiefdom.
The people of South Sudan are tired of war and desperately need normalcy to return to their nation. I do not believe that there would be any reasonable South Sudanese who would say he or she wants the conflict to continue because the suffering that has been inflicted on the people of South Sudan is irrefutably monumental. However, the success of this peace is in the hands of the current Kleptocratic regime. This regime must fully embrace and implement this agreement if it is serious about a lasting peace in the country. There are many issues that are associated with the realization of the deal. But only the issues of an equal army, budget for peace implementation, a hybrid court, dissolution of powers, unification of the armies, and the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) will decide the fate of the agreement. Salva Kiir is already exploiting these provisions to further delay the success of the deal. Kiir believes that by constantly complaining about the peace funding issue, postponing the unification of rebel and government forces, creating conditions to delay the dissolution of powers, objecting to the formation of a hybrid court, and preventing the IBC to independently perform its duties, he can at least prevent the treaty from being fully implemented. He believes that by doing so, he can keep his grip on power. Kiir is certain that by creating these obstacles he can, by default, continue leading the country using the current tyrannical constitution. His hope is that his delaying tactics will keep his brutality alive or lead to an eventual collapse of the agreement.
On the issue of budget, Kiir is determined to keep insisting that his government does not have the money needed for peace implementation. This should be understood considering recent disgraceful revelations that his government influenced some members of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) in December 2018 and January 2019 to approve at least $135,000 dollars and that the money was used to renovate politicians’ homes, including the home of his First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai. Salva Kiir is not ashamed of his destructive leadership. He has also drawn up a plan to systematically resist the unification of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) forces including national security personnel. This strategy is centred on the idea that the government will manufacture excuses that would then force the Joint Defense Board (JDB) to conduct lengthy investigations in the hope of further delaying the unification process. One of the techniques Kiir will use to prevent the two armies’ unification is to not agree to an equal number of troops. In his mind, he believes that he can offer the same number of soldiers SPLA-IO has and still maintain a private armed force. Regarding the dissolution of powers, Salva Kiir is determined to prevent amending the constitution in a way that would strip him from appointing and removing state and national officials through presidential decrees as it has been the case for the last five years. The man is addicted to current tyrannical leadership powers. Kiir’s cunning strategy does not stop here, as he is also prepared to use his security forces to intimidate and harass the Independent Boundaries Commission to prevent it from deciding the number of states. He has also decided that he will not agree with any idea that would allow the formation of a hybrid court to try those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Kiir’s claim to have no money for peace implementation is scandalous, to say the least. To refresh your mind, this calculating plot began in June 2018 when representatives of South Sudanese and Sudanese governments met in Khartoum. The meeting was the result of a secret plan by Juba to ask Khartoum to repair its oil fields that were damaged in the April 2012 Heglig war. In return, South Sudan’s government would pay Sudan at least $1 billion dollars for losses and damages that Khartoum incurred during the Heglig war between Sudan and South Sudanese forces. This is simply a cover story. The reality was that South Sudan’s government desperately needed money and the best way to keep getting enough cash was to deceive Sudan into believing that Juba was sorry for occupying Heglig in 2012 and that any damage South Sudan caused would be paid. This was a classic deceptive technique designed to minimize any suspicion about the proposal. Juba was pleased after Khartoum agreed to repair its oil fields. Salva Kiir’s sneaky strategy was well-planned. Logically, the man simply needed more money so that he could keep buying weapons and ammunition to further defend his regime or eliminate his political rivals.
It is worth mentioning South Sudan’s government claimed early last year that the South Sudanese peace process needed $20 million dollars. The government also maintained at that time that its rubber-stamp parliament approved the budget even though there was no evidence to verify such a seemingly public relation stunt.
In January 2019, Kiir surprised the people of South Sudan, saying that his government does not have money for peace implementation and appealed to the international community to fund the process. Kiir’s appeal was met with silence. Days after the announcement, his information minister Michael Makuey Lueth — a documented killer lashed out at the European Union and Troika countries (the United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States) and accused them of working against peace in the country. The accusation was a clear sign of desperation from a government that has a documented history of deceiving the international community—especially when it comes to the peace process. Remember, the failed 2015 power-sharing deal was heavily funded by the Troika countries and South Sudanese all know what happened in July 2016. South Sudan’s government does not need money from the international community to finance the implementation of the agreement. The current oil output is enough to fund the deal. But the Kleptocratic mentality Kiir and his allies developed for the last five years has transformed them into brave thieves. They see South Sudan’s oil as their property. They prefer another country paying for the peace process so that they can keep looting the nation’s natural resources. This is the very reason why the international community has had enough of wasting their tax-payers’ money on his Kleptocratic and murderous regime.
Salva Kiir’s cunning behaviour is sometimes contradictory. In early February, Kiir told his ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party (SPLM) parliamentary caucus officials that he does not like Khartoum’s peace agreement and that he signed simply because he does not want to see the people of South Sudan continue suffering. During his speech, Kiir alleged that the United States refused to recognize the agreement. His accusation was centred on the idea that if the U.S. refused to finance peace implementation, then other Western countries would also not pay their money. This allegation is a mere joke—in fact, it is a shame for the country. Juba’s regime has proved itself to be an accuser of the West even when the blame is too naked to believe. Western nations have nothing to do with the ongoing crisis in South Sudan. Kiir is the one who orchestrated the conflict in 2013 after it was clear to him that most members of the SPLM political bureau lost confidence in him. Salva Kiir needs to understand that South Sudan is a sovereign nation today because of the West. The Republic of South Sudan is a product of United States foreign policy. To accuse Western countries of working against peace just because they do not want their money to be used to kill political opponents is reprehensible. As you can see, Kiir’s behaviour shows the man is not serious about peace. He seems to be interested in getting money from the international community as he did during the implementation of the failed 2015 pact.
It is now clear that Kiir’s plan to get money from the international community for peace implementation is not going to work as he thought it would. The regime has resorted to raising $285 million dollars by taxing civil servants. What I find ironic about this rather frantic move is that most of the civil servants the government is claiming to tax are already struggling daily and Kiir knows it. His government has not been paying the salaries of most of these workers. There are questions raised about why the implementation of the agreement would require such a questionable huge amount. Remember, the initial budget proclaimed by the government was $20 million dollars and it is now $285 million dollars. Something is obviously devious here.
South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation, but this young country has abused its infancy by having corrupt leaders that exploit national resources to further advance their wealth and political powers. These leaders, led by Salva Kiir, only think of themselves and their families. They have no plan for the nation, let alone the much-needed reforms stipulated in the Khartoum’s peace deal. Kiir has proven himself to be someone who knows how to deceive his rivals and then later disposes of them like unwanted towels. This is evident in the ongoing peace process.
The international community must not fund peace implementation because the government of South Sudan has proven itself to be a deceitful money-maker and killer at the same time. When the August 2015 agreement was signed, President Salva Kiir listed conditions where he publicly criticized the international community, especially the Troika, saying the now-defunct power-sharing deal was imposed on him. Kiir was not alone: the leader of the SPLM-IO Dr Riek Machar also complained about the same issue. Despite these issues, the international community was united and funded the agreement. But the peace was short-lived after Kiir, former army chief Paul Malong Awan, and the current First Vice President Taban Deng Gai conspired to kill Machar in Juba in July 2016. The financiers of the pact were stunned but failed to openly denounce Kiir for using their taxpayers’ money and then dumping the agreement. This is exactly what Kiir wants to repeat by collecting donations from foreign nations to further his political madness.
Salva Kiir’s current tactics in this peace process have strong links with the delaying techniques he used in the 2015 peace process. The man is a devious oppressor who has extensive records of deceiving the international community and bribing foreign leaders. He is not ready to fully implement Khartoum’s peace agreement. His main objective is to fool potential South Sudanese political leaders into believing that the agreement is real and then strike at the time as he did in the past. Those who believe that Kiir is serious about peace this time are either government supporters or are uninformed. Kiir is a renowned sneaky and destructive leader capable of smiling while slitting the throat of his fellow South Sudanese at the same time. The South Sudanese must not allow him to mislead the international community through his sneaky diplomatic relations. Salva Kiir — a master of deceit, destructive, cunning, thieving, and murderous man must not be allowed to impede the implementation of the agreement.
Duop Chak Wuol is the Editor-in-Chief of the South Sudan News Agency (https://southsudannewsagency.org/. He can be reached at [email protected] Note: The views expressed in this article are his and should not be attributed to the South Sudan News Agency.