By: Peter Lokarlo Ngrimwa* JAN/14/2016, SSN;
The prioritization of the formation of the government of National Unity at the moment by the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) or the recent request made by James Wani Igga the current Vice president of the Republic of South Sudan to the Chairman of the SPLM-IO Dr. Riek Machar to relocate to Juba and jointly form the anticipated government of National Unity with the serving president of the country, Salva Kiir, before primarily addressing the central issues in the peace accord is seemingly a sheer heedless travesty devoid of critical reflection on the part of Mr. Wani and Mr. Festus Mogae, the Chairman of JMEC – the man tasked with ensuring the implementation of the peace deal in South Sudan.
Auspiciously, the roadmap is at the disposal of all parties and stakeholders, thus, what remains to get done is just an honest execution of the clauses of the agreement as stipulated in the document, without aberrations or eccentricities so that all would arrive at the expected and desired political accommodation.
Alas! South Sudanese have already witnessed one glitch in the allotment of the government Ministerial positions.
Salva Kiir as predicted did demonstrate his utter sense of greed and political insensitivity by securing the most important slots and left the secondary ministries except the Foreign Affairs to the others who took them passively without an argument.
In the first place, the methodology for sharing the designated ministries as provided in the peace agreement was not followed, it was simply jettisoned overboard and that act of indiscretion or tactlessness by the opposition forces enabled the Jieng Council of Elders’ government to have a free ride as it wished.
The portfolios of Defence, National Security, Parliamentary Affairs, Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Finance and Planning are all key institutions and have sadly all gone to the JCE that controls the government of South Sudan.
We need to get reminded that within 18 months from the beginning of the transitional government, all SPLA soldiers from the opposition and the government would be merged together and commanded by the JCE’s government.
It remains to be seen as to what would transpire from such an intricate and byzantine scenario, given the appalling temperament of the President and his JCE that seem to capture the Latin phrase of “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” meaning, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.”
The JCE government controls the Security establishment as well, and that could be unleashed by the government to ensure that the JCE regime commandeers power through illegal and coercive practices of the security apparatus.
This is another sombre portrait in the making that could see South Sudan through another round of bloodletting and misery, and that is all because an erroneous decision was made which should not have been made in the first place as we live in an environment and generation where there is no shortage of mutual suspicions.
It is worth recalling that it is the same JCE that had attempted to institute inter-tribal conflicts in Greater Equatoria. The Madi were set against the Acholi; Madi against Kuku and Mundari versus Bari. This was destined to create hostile environments among the feuding ethnic groups and help the JCE rule South Sudan.
If the assumption of the delegation of the SPLM-IO is that this setback is pro tempore or only transitory and confined to the period of the transitional government and the SPLM-IO would be in a better shape politically after the 30 months or so, this conviction is probably flawed and manifestly amounts to a self-defeating pondering.
The JCE’s government and their aficionados would soon rheostat the legislative and judicial processes that impact upon the creation of the permanent constitution.
What would happen if such a would-be JCE’s-flavoured constitution turned out to contain a clause which stipulates that any ethnic group that occupied the majority of states in the Republic of South Sudan would always provide the head of state or the president and the second group would have the position of the Vice president?
Given all the oil and other resources at their disposal I can visibly envision that possibility and silhouette emerging which the SPLM-IO’s representatives in Juba were unable to see at the time when they accepted the left overs and the lesser positions after the JCE had gluttonously selected the key state institutions.
Understandably, the JMEC chairman would probably by this time be fascinated with the temptation of exploring short-cuts in the peace agreement in an attempt to accomplish his assignment in the shortest possible time frame and then take on a meteoric rise and ride to prominence at the expense of a predictable future ramifications such a bad deal.
But I think this is hardly a cogent and sustainable approach to adopt in tribally-polarized communities and a country like South Sudan where the urge for instant revenge to settle old scores is irresistibly ripe, following the government’s tribal murders since 2013.
Furthermore, the impulse for intrigues emanating from the huge embedded mistrusts coupled with the trepidation of being removed from power and replaced by a non-Jieng ethnic group does not sit well with the JCE and it could certainly ignite another flurry of slaughter unless prudently handled through restraining safeguards and credible deterrence.
In December 2013, following the weekend flopped meeting of the National Liberation Council of the ruling party, the SPLM, the government scuttled to falsely declare that a coup d’état had been staged by Dr. Riek Machar, nevertheless that declaration turned out to be an absolute farce.
In reality, the move was an intentionally well-rehearsed ploy to eliminate all pockets of opposition groups in the country as it did happen in the subsequent government’s steered massacres and murders of civilians on an industrial scale.
From that point in time, the centrifugal forces of naked tribalism, hate and geographical killings were unleashed by JCE-controlled government, mostly in Greater Upper Nile states.
The exploit was a prelude to paving the way for an emergence to power of a tribally-domineering and authoritarian JCE government in the country.
With the current level of misgivings and the entrenched intention of the government of Kiir under the constant sway of the JCE, to remain in absolute power today and after the end of the transitional period of administration in South Sudan, the President and his browbeats in the JCE, might come up this time with a similar or modified subterfuge to possibly allege that the SPLM-IO have started yet another round of conflict.
To dissuade the JCE and its associates from being tempted to embark on a perilous design of wrecking the peace accord that they have long rebuffed and held in derision, the demilitarisation program as enshrined in the peace agreement document must be effected without government’s sanctioned procrastination.
If carried out timely, there would be equilibrium of forces in the cities that would certainly act as a deterrent factor against another JCE Roulette in Juba political Casino.
In this context I ask the Chairman of the JMEC to ensure that the peace accord be executed accordingly as detailed in the peace document.
You can’t hasten to form a government when the fundamental iffy and skittish issues such as the 28 states conspiratorial design of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) as well as the demilitarization of Juba and other core issues are still placed in the pending tray of business.
The relocation of the Chairman of the SPLM-IO to the capital Juba would not add value to the execution of the stalemated peace process, to the contrary, there are perceived physical risks associated with his presence in Juba in the absence of the existence of a sizable deterrent SPLM-IO’s troops that would match Kiir’s forces in the city.
President Kiir maintains tens of thousands of army, police and security forces in Juba, which does not tally with the stipulations of the peace agreement on demilitarization.
All these must be sorted out formally prior to Dr. Riek Machar’s travel to Juba to participate with Kiir in the formation of the transitional government.
Mr. Mogae should firmly build the foundations of the house first as he is constructing one, before he starts getting worried about setting up the roof.
In other words, the formation of the government of National Unity is not a priority at the moment, but stopping the government aggression on civilian populations in rural areas is.
The JMEC Chairman should worry about the sporadic skirmishes involving the aggressive and ill-disciplined national army and the state-armed marauding militia forces in Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal states.
These bloody developments must be halted before contemplating the formation a transitional government.
South Sudanese owe clarifications from the muted Chairman of the IGAD, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Troika group of countries and the imperturbable but moribund African Union about the newly added controversial dimension to the framework of the peace roadmap, namely the 28 states which has been calculatingly strategized to acquire more territories, abundant national resources and above all to provide the JCE with the wherewithal to capture power in elections at the expiry of the 30 months period of the upcoming transitional government.
IGAD, Troika the AU and other external parties have shown a collective penchant for inaction lately. Perhaps these parties are still under the canopy of the antiquated and discarded Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and UN assertive clause that states about non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign states.
If that is not the case, then what has transpired of the South Sudan peace agreement? Without their close supervision, Mr. Mogae Festus would hardly move forward to accomplish his mission.
Finally I appeal to all Dinka nationalists who crave the country, and possess both the sensibility and sensitivity on the unity in diversity of South Sudanese at heart and who do not share the virulent ideology of the JCE, to speedily intervene and dissuade the latter from their perilous tendency in order to edge out a possible cataclysmic scenario in the shape and magnitude of the Rwandan carnage of 1994.
In the course of human history, there have often been instances and accounts of extreme brutalities and anguishes which emerged in the course of power struggles and other concerns in many parts of the world in both developed and emerging economies, but all have virtually come to realise the benefits that accrue from the maintenance of political stability as they developed and that stability outweighs their aggressive and more often perturbed ways of living and they have now abandoned the primordial culture of sadism in favour of equanimity.
We must all be prepared to act resolutely to put an end to this monumental insanity created by the retarded and much less sophisticated JCE and their parochial adherents whose distorted moral and ethical foundations lack contemporary application, and instead sit down together to explore ways of building a better South Sudan for all and future generations.
Peter Lokarlo Ngrimwa
Graduate School of Business and Law (GSBL)
Emily McPherson Building 13,
379 – 405 Russell Street Melbourne
VIC 3000 Melbourne