BY: Peter Lokarlo Ngrimwa*, DEC/02/2015, SSN;
Examining the African Union (AU) appeal to SPLM-IO to regularly attend the JMEC meetings, I think it would be prudent for the African body in the first instance to address the lingering and melancholy issue of the more often repeated violations of the rickety ceasefire committed by the government of Salva Kiir and then ensure that the Peace Agreement is implemented accordingly in order to end the hemorrhage of the youngest nation on the planet rather than requesting the SPLM-IO to attend meetings that would be organized by JMEC in the near future.
In this respect, the continental organization palpably appears to have started its superintending role of South Sudan’s Peace Agreement from an asymmetrical premise far divorced from discernment of the precise prevailing political status quo.
The AU should primarily and without prejudice establish whether or not the concluded agreement is being executed as stipulated in the inherent articles and clauses of the document.
Startlingly, the AU expects the advanced team of the SPLM-IO to relocate to Juba while the regime in the country persistently launches airborne assaults on the positions of the latter’s combatants in Western and Central equatorial states.
In the latest premeditated attacks the police state in Juba employed helicopter gunships which produced fatality figures which by conservative estimates ranged between 50 and 100 dead and over 100 civilians sustained various degrees of injuries including 2 senior military officers from the opposition’s side murdered.
Under such caustic environment it would manifestly be naïve for the AU and the JMEC to cajole or prod the leadership of SPLM-IO to travel to Juba and form a unity government, or attend JMEC meetings in Juba.
Moreover, it is important to note that the peace agreement explicitly specifies that the Ugandan military and other foreign forces must leave South Sudan before any formation of a broad-based government in the war-torn country, but plainly the AU does not seem concerned about such a key provision of the peace accord, nor anxious about the need to verify the dubious claims by both Ugandan and the Juba governments on the withdrawal of the Uganda troops commonly known as the UPDF from South Sudan.
There would tangibly be much lesser or no incentive at all to sign an agreement if there is no commitment to implement it by the pertinent parties or when it is deemed to become non-binding on the parties named therein.
Moreover, the peripatetic rebel groups fighting against the government of Sudan, namely the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the SPLM-North based in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains are actively deployed in South Sudan and attacking the SPLM/A-IO to date alongside President Kiir’s marauding troops and private militia army in company of Ugandan UPDF contingents who are viewed by South Sudanese as a murderous mercenary force.
The AU, Troika and JMEC have never bothered to tell President Kiir to send them away from South Sudan in conformity with the binding peace agreement.
The AU and JMEC are simply being alarmistic in predicting an impending cataclysmic portrait in South Sudan in the absence of a functioning unity government in the country without realizing that they have to do something about it.
Nevertheless, such an assertion sounds quite ludicrous because the AU and Company should primarily ensure the execution of the agreement by pressurizing the regime in Juba to respect the peace accord, other than making a statement about the formation of a unity government.
The AU’s dossier of failures in resolving the continent’s seething problems including the Darfur conflict is a plain testimony of the organization’s lethargic stance.
The redeployment of the government troops from Juba to designated locations of 25km radius from the capital city is being cosmetically projected and handled, evidently with the intention of sabotaging this essential clause of the agreement.
It has been claimed by Juba that about 250 soldiers have been relocated outside the town. Until when would the several thousands of troops and their equipment be removed from the city?
The AU, Troika, IGAD and JMEC seem to be critically ill-equipped in terms of accessing accurate information on South Sudan that could enable the group deal with the overall situation or determine what should be done in order to halt the violence and usher peace in South Sudan.
President Museveni of Uganda, being an elderly influential figure in the IGAD circle as well as an embodiment of the problem in the troubled country does not offer a trustworthy template for resolving the conflict in the country as this would in his flawed judgement compromise Uganda’s interests.
It must spicily be stressed that up to this moment the travel of the advanced team of SPLM-IO to the capital of Juba is never a priority at all, but the systematic execution of the peace accord that should begins with a binding ceasefire is.
As thousands of innocent civilians have perished especially from the 15th December 2013, following the government’s calculated mass murders and sporadic massacre at an industrial scale (AU Commission’s Report 2015), a carefully-structured approach designed in line with the peace agreement should have precedent over a hurried and unempirical solutions. The SPLM-IO’s advanced Team would move to Juba once the following requirements have been fulfilled:
• Ugandan army withdrawn from the territory of South Sudan, and it absolutely verified by the relevant competent authority, except those deployed in Western Equatoria and not covered by the agreement;
• The JEM and other Sudanese rebels fighting against the government of Sudan are withdrawn from the territory of the Republic of South Sudan;
• Demilitarization of Juba by the South Sudan’s army is accomplished and also verified as stipulated in the agreement;
• The regime in South Sudan stops its aggression and extreme violence against civilians and opposition elements in the country. Peace cannot hold on in the face of persistent attacks by government troops in a brazen disregard of the ceasefire.
It is worth noting that President Kiir had earlier refused to sign the peace agreement willingly and had to do it only under duress from the international community.
In this regard the president and his tribally-constituted assemblage of Dinka elders commonly known as the Jeng Council of Elders (JCE) incessantly attempts to procrastinate and frustrate the execution of the peace deal with ample blessings from the Ugandan “life” President, Yoweri Museveni who noticeably stands to gain from the spill of blood of South Sudanese and Ugandan soldiers alike that are still battling the opposition forces of SPLA in South Sudan.
In conclusion, the AU, Troika the UN and IGAD should leverage the government in Juba to accommodate, appreciate and implement the peace agreement in its totality.
Blaming the SPLM-IO for non-attendance of the JMEC meetings is probably quite irrelevant. Urging for the formation of a government of national unity premised on shaky foundation constitutes a time bomb and consequently a recipe for disaster.
It is regrettable that the core concern stems from the lack of executing the agreement that originates from an evident failure of the IGAD, AU and the Troika in persuading the government of South Sudan to behave responsibly by ending the war and start to learn and appreciate the value of peace and sanctity of human life in South Sudan.
Peter Lokarlo Ngrimwa*
Graduate School of Business and Law (GSBL)
Emily McPherson Building 13,
379 – 405 Russell Street Melbourne
VIC 3000 Melbourne