Hypocrisy and Self-Interest at the failed IGAD-brokered South Sudan ‘Peace Talks’

BY: Kuir ë Garang, ALBERTA, Canada, MAR/11/2015, SSN;

Now that the warring parties have failed to sign a peace deal to end the 15-month old conflict in South Sudan, the jittery public is asking: “What’s Next?” And ‘what’s next’ is the unquestionable reworking of the entire peace process. Winning militarily is an illusion.

In October last year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn told a press conference after the two principals in the conflict failed to strike a deal arguing that changing the negotiating strategy would not bring results. Bizarrely, he advocated for the same strategy that was proving fruitless.

When the last round of the talks failed [again] on March 6, Mr. Desalegn, however, seemed to have had an epiphany. Having come to the realization that using the same strategy over and over without results is foolhardy, the Prime Minister finally called for a change in strategy.

While we all understand that the two principals have failed South Sudanese for having started the war and failing to end it, we have to remember the mediocre method used by IGAD and the patronage being exercised by the regional leaders and the African Union.

In January, the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Bashir Bandi, gave an interview to SSTV and what he said underlined what many of us have been advocating for for months. Mr. Bandi explained how South Sudanese brokered ways forward were frustrated by IGAD’s mediation team.

Anytime South Sudanese made progress at the talks, he argues, IGAD would postpone the talks without giving any reasons and without consulting the two delegations.

Besides, IGAD is not mediating the talks, but forcing them. There’s never been a peace initiative in which talks are given strict timelines and the parties threatened to sign or they be punished. We don’t need the peace talks if the arsenals mediators have are threats. Threats are symptomatic of mediators’ failure.

The attitude regional and African leaders have adopted towards South Sudanese leaders is condescending, patronizing and disrespectful. With no doubt, South Sudanese civilians are suffering and dying and the country’s development has been frustrated. However, regional leaders are treating South Sudanese leaders like idiots, who can’t think for themselves.

Unfortunately, the leaders are playing along with such disrespectful patronization. And I agree with Dr. Marial Benjamin: there’s nowhere in the world where you give peace a deadline.

Dr. Riek Machar and President Kiir Mayardit have brought the country to its knees and it’s high time they pulled it back up. Time and again, the two leaders have asked to be allowed to negotiate as South Sudanese but IGAD refuses to listen.

Kiir and Riek should realize the patronizing manner in which they are being treated and take charge of the talks. Do we really need such useless IGAD’s mediation?

Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin has proven incapable of mediating peace. Instead of the stakeholders drafting positional papers, which IGAD can just work through for a compromise, all draft papers are written by IGAD and given to the two sides with “sign it now or be punished!” That’s not mediation but self-serving blackmail!

Is it really impossible for Kiir and Riek to call a south-south meeting in Nairobi or Addis Ababa and strike an understanding without the patronage and condescension of the ineffective regional leaders?

And how do we expect people who haven’t brought peace to their own countries to be interested in peace in South Sudan?

Ethiopia arrests political opponents, journalists and bloggers. It still hasn’t solved the problem of Oromo Liberation Front. Human Rights Watch in May of 2014 called for Ethiopia to respect human rights and prosecute security forces abuses in Gambella, Somali region of Ethiopia and in Oromia. A HRW report in October of 2013 documented incidents of torture by the government.

Sudan and Uganda, both of which ruled by dictators, are classic examples of hypocrisy at South Sudanese talks. Sudan is ruled by a legal fugitive, it’s fighting wars in three fronts (or more) and its human rights records are appalling. The cases of Amin Medani and opposition leader Farouk Issa are current crack down on political voices.

And the dear Yoweri Museveni has essentially occupied South Sudan as he dictates what President Kiir does. Museveni tries to portray himself as the regional superman. His ego is inflated by regional conflicts. His presence in Somalia, interference in Congo, Rwanda, Sudan and South Sudan shouldn’t be seen in naïve lenses as Mr. Savior at work. Museveni’s power thrives in these conflicts. End the conflicts and his influence disappears!

It is therefore crucial for Kiir and Riek to chart a different course for peace in South Sudan. It’s naïve to expect that people who don’t and can’t respect human rights records in their own countries would wish for peace in South Sudan.

The decision not to release AU report on post-December 2013 conflict is testimonial of how African leaders view human rights.

But remember, this article by no means absolves South Sudanese leaders of the atrocities committed by their forces. And this also doesn’t mean Riek and Kiir have no part in the hypocrisy surrounding the peace talks.

Indeed, South Sudanese would open their hearts to forgive if the leaders showed some elements of care, leadership and responsibility. Good leadership is about sacrifices on behalf of the people.

Beside IGAD’s hypocrisy, the two leaders have not set any example in regard to forgiveness, letting go and striking a peace language that’d herald in the advent of peaceful atmosphere in the country.

And unlike IGAD’s leaders, who threaten Kiir and Riek instead of doing their job for peace to come to South Sudan, the United Nation Security Council Resolution 2026 (2015) that calls for targeted sanctions on individuals is appropriate.

It’s not a blind, unstructured threat like what IGAD usually mete out on South Sudanese leaders. The proposals would be calculated, targeted sanctions on individuals that are obstacles to the talks. To claim that sanctions would be counter-productive is to lose sight of who is fighting in South Sudan, who is suffering and who is imposing the sanctions.

I don’t know why South Sudanese leaders worry if they aren’t obstacles to peace talks!

It’s therefore time for our leaders to restore the dignity of the country through peace by seeing regional leaders for what they are: hypocritical self-interested group.

Kuir ë Garang is the author of South Sudan Ideologically. For contact, visit www.kuirthiy.info


  1. Garang Ajou says:

    Brother, Kuir, your article is perfect.
    “Indeed, South Sudanese will open thier hearts to forgive if Kiir & Riek showed some elements of care, leadership and responsibility.” Good leadership is about sacrifices on behalf of the people.
    UN Security Council should go ahead with Sanctions on anyperson or individuals who are hindering peace, thusands of our people are suffering.

  2. Kikiji says:

    Kiir is kept hostage by some few individuals who are benefitting from his sightedness. The solution to bring peace is imposing sanctions on those hindering peace. This time the UNSC should expeditiously act. This bring put pressure on them. Freezing their assets is a welcome move. Their kids will suffer the same way innocent kids are going through.

  3. Burakeel Nyanwundit says:

    If our self- called political commentators have known what they are putting on papers today after the peace touched nowhere closer South Sudan, they should never before have written extensively exposing their hard -earned nation and their leaders to no good people then who have now shown their true bad nature because they were not that good. When writing, I always call the war we are killing each other the war of wealth. As we have come to realization that, they actors whom we were destroying our country to save it and our lives purportedly start to disclose who they really are after they got the handle that wields the power we have all abused. We did not frankly and fully fathom Garang’s one of his greatest pieces of wisdom.He said when light went off in the house it is not who does reside in the house that goes in the house, because he will break everything since he have learned no clear positions of things. This tells us today that he who lives in the house before the light outrage could start breaking everything if he did not study the house perfectly. Therefore, we have never demonstrated what we needed to be doing during the interim and up to date. When are we going to learn unlearned thing, beginning of our comeback will die out sooner than later if this commercializing peace under IGAD evinces its overt conduct to assume gesturing peace of which we are all appeared to notice their long hidden agenda of the war of wealth? One of our self- called political commentators was calling mass demonstrations to take Juba while playing one tribe as a monster which is exponentially responsible for the war , when his own pen is the primary cause. If we have come back to our common senses. let find our own solution by taking a precedent in seeking a path we have intentionally veered off . While we have been wrongly pushing the helm of the wealth and power of the country we tolled so hard to tilt a typical trajectory not to own choosing instead of a trundling trend that is taking place in Ethiopia.
    My brothers these folks know what what.we do know. They are on their A game to the fullest. We can allow our lost indefatigable and insurmountable intellect to resume to research our hearts to accept each to live in harmony and peace than to allow this commercializing destiny relegates and degenerates our spirit and strength as Southerners to be exponentially exploited by malicious IGAD. They are not for mere peace. And by the way peace is not drawing of its letters It is an answer to the demand or midpoint of the disagreed to agree by equal yard stick.

  4. Ohi'de says:

    This is a good advice to those leaders. In fact what you are advising them on was what happened in Angola.MPLA and UNITA ended their war without involving any international community body. UN was caught by surprise.

  5. Deng Hanbol says:

    Mr. Kuir Garang, after writing unconstructive criticism about Dr.Riek Machar leadership and after beating around the bush, you finally had to admit the occupation of our country by Uganda. Any way, your advice that sounds Good.The question is, what are the causes of the current civil war in our country? And why Dinka clans of Bahr Al- Ghazal are so arrogant? The long-range causes of the civil war is the continuing inability of my cousins Dinka to recognize and accept south Sudan as the political sovereignty and the homeland of 64 tribes in South Sudan; by the way,we the Naath people understand the antagonism and desire for revenge that have been fueled by defeats and humiliation of in the previous wars specifically, the 1991 incident. Coming back to Museveni occupation of south Sudan, the UDF, came to Juba on Dec. 2013 on the grounds that it wanted evacuate Ugandans and foreign nationals. However, Museveni mere intention is to occupy south sudan and looting the oil monies(money). I think the best solution of our problem is that Dinka elders and Salva Kiir are to ask Museveni to withdraw his army. Salva, however, is badly misleading by the Dinka elders namely Bona Malual, the most notorious Jaang elder , justice Amboros Raang , Adul Ageu and many more. My cousin Kuir, the fact is, the short-term and more proximate causes are the arms build up on Dinka side in 2012 and 2013; regional interference and especially Uganda meddling; and the failure of Obama’s administration to prevent Nuer genocide in 2013 in Juba. I think most of south Sudanese citizens believe that it is un rational to blame Dr. Riek Machar for the outbreak of hostilities and for the consequences that will follow.
    Thank you.

  6. Thoman Lual Mading says:

    You always give good analysis on Kiir/Riak political ambitions but what I do not understand is your failure to see what at offer from other political parties. Life is not just about the two.

  7. Manyiel Atem says:

    Deng Hanbol,
    Bona Malwaldit is not a part of Kiir’s failed government.
    If well-respected Malwaldit was advising Salva Kiir South Sudan could have been on right path already. Malwaldit has tremendous wealth of administrative experiences which he can uses to benefit us. So, let us stop blaming other people who have nothing to do with Kiir-and-Riak Machar messy political civil war.
    Folks, believe me or not, there are people in this world who are really good at creating problems which they cannot solve. Salva Kiir and Riak Machar are good examples. Both leaders have been waging this senseless civil war without clearly well-defined political objectives.
    Folks, fighting a war is one thing, but to market the policy ideas why you are fighting that war is a different thing on the other of the equation. Salva Kiir and Riak Machar both of them have failed us. And they have made us look wickedly stupid around the world. They have also made the lives of innocent civilians extremely difficult, while they are enjoying luxurious lifestyles.

    In conclusion, if people of South Sudan don’t something about these two short-Sighted leaders , then many people will continue to lose their lives. So, it is better for us to get rid of them, then for us to continue to mourn the painful loses of innocent lives.

    • Manyiel Atem,

      When Dinka and Nuer boys were amalgamated in Pinyido and Dimo refugee camps in early 1980s and1990s, the majority of Dinka boy were elected group leaders. Whenever a Dinka boy and a Nuer boy got in fight and if they found the Nuer is guilty, the Nuer boy would be given severe punishment. However, when the Dinka boy is wrong for the fight, the Dinka group leaders would punish both Dinka and Nuer boy. After their punishment, they would tell them do not fight again. It was very unjust judgments.

      In today South Sudan problem, over 90% of South Sudanese including Dinka know very well that Salva Kiir instigated the violent and is resisting reform as well, while Riek Machar is innocent for the violent that occurred on December 15, 2013, but escape Juba for his own safety and he is requesting reform. We know very well Salva Kiir imposed war on Riek Machar, but because Salva is a Dinka, Dinka are reluctant to condemn Salva alone. Instead, Dinka would either say both Kiir and Riek fail the country or they would say Riek fail the country, while it is Salva alone who fail the country by imposing his dictatorship ideology on people. Where in the world a person who set a house on fire and a person who escaped the burning fire could be equally wrong?

      Manyiel Atem, you pretend to be someone who believes in God, but you do not want to condemn Kiir who instigated the violent alone because he is from your Dinka tribe. To me, Dinka who believe in God and those who do not believe in God have equal judgment. I do not see anything that set you apart as a man of God in your comments. In 1991, no Dinka person say both Riek and Garang were equally wrong. Instead, everyone condemned Riek. Today Dinka know for sure that Riek is innocent for the war but because he is not a Dinka you still condemn him anyway. Salva is completely wrong for the war, but because he is a Dinka man, Dinka refuse to condemn him alone, but they keep saying both Kiir and Riek are wrong and both equally fail the country.

      My advice to all non-Dinka and none-Nuer, you need to pay attention and watch this Dinka’s game very closely before it happen to one your leaders.

      • Toria says:

        It was Nuer fighters and Equatorian intellectuals who helped Dinka’s SPLA ascent to power, how much these communities complain about the other they are all using each other to get to throne. Since Kirr lost majority support of the Nuer people, Kirr invited foreign fighters, Kirr knows very well without the support of Nuer fighters and Equatorian intellectuals he will not win this war; so now he is using those Nuer puppets and some Equatorian (VP Wani) to divide and conquer both Nuers and Equatorians respectively.
        As soon as Riek-Gore and their groups sign that bogus Addis Ababa peace agreement; he (Kirr) won the war and the same game begins all over again. Just look at what is happening with Murle. For Kirr it’s not about peace or coexistence but it’s all about winning the war so that he would rule S.S until he dies in power.

        Bentiu; we all know what you are referring to there when you say “non-Dinkas, non-Nuer”, let me guess; you meant are the Equatorians; alright?. Well; you don’t have to tell the Equatorians who Dinkas are, just like, Nuers and Dinkas will never see each other as equals but only good to be used, let alone ruling S.S side by side, and the same scenario applies to Equatorians.
        So Bentiu; stop whining like the Dinkas about the Equatorians for Kokora Uprising or as you said what dinkas did to Nuers in Gumbela or Panyido or whatever. Why do you need Dinakas approval? Don’t be a second class to anybody. Just like Dinkas feel very important to be in Equatoria because they need Eqautorians approval?
        This is not more than self-esteem issues at stake but the reality is both Dinkas and Nuers are competing for the support of the Equatorians here. At this juncture the Nuers could easily win the support of Equatorians only if Riek don’t sign that Peace Agreement yet until federalism is 100% implemented, Kirr and his SPLA-Juba are just about to give up if SPLA-IO will insist and stay in the offence, they are running out of options and no more petro dollar like before to support the war and sanction is looming on their door steps. We all know who will suffer the most when sanction is imposed, those in bush will never feel it but SPLA-Juba will be the losers. This is the best opportunity for both Nuers and Equatorians to face the common enemy of Federalism (Kirr) and his followers.

        • Dear Toria,

          I agree with most of your comments although I am going to refute some of your comments. You are 100% right that Kiir is making our communities fight one another. He is excessively using Nuer and Equatorians. For example, the SPLA-OI killed 40 SPLA-Juba on Sunday in Gabat town. 27 of the dead in SPLA-Juba side were Nuer and those who were killed in the drowned warship on Sunday were Collo and Ugandans troops. Had it not for Ugandan military, the SPLA-IO would have overran Juba long ago.

          Another interesting point that you brought up in your comments is that “As soon as Riek-Gore and their groups sign that bogus Addis Ababa peace agreement; he (Kirr) won the war and the same game begins all over again”. You are more than 100% correct at this point. Kiir will take Dr. Gore and Dr. Machar compromise as a surrender as they did it one for Dr. Riek Machar in 1991. I am glad you know this from the top of your head. Example of this is that Kiir and Dinka in generals take Riek compromise of 1991 as a surrender and I believe if Riek continue his war with Garang, the CPA would have never been signed.

          Toria, this is where I am slightly going to refute your comments, when I said “My advice to all non-Dinka and none-Nuer, you need to pay attention and watch this Dinka’s game very closely before it happen to one of your leaders” I was not referring to Equatorians only. I was also referring to non-Dinka in Greater Bar El Gazal and none-Nuer in Greater Upper Nile regions. In Bar El Gazal, I hope you heard the mass murder of Balanda two to three years ago.

          Another example is that when Dr. Lam Akol express his interest to run for presidential election in 2010, he was banned from traveling around the country while he was a candidate. How do you see this now Mr. Toria? Was it not a humiliation? Apart from being banned from the traveling, Dr. AKol was attacked several times in his hotel in Juba. As a result, Dr. Akol fled north to Collo Kingdom. Again, the town where Dr. Akol was dwelling in Shilluk kingdom came under attack by the SPLA which left many Collo civilians dead. One of the Collo village chief was abducted from his house, tossed in the car and the car was burn while the chief was inside. Is this the life the none-Dinka and none-Nuer prefer? You live in submission to one tribe so that you can be termed peaceful people?

          Toria, is it a crime to be a presidential candidate in South Sudan? If Dr. Lam Akol would have fought back in 2010, I think people like you Mr. Toria would have say Lam Akol and Kiir fail the country, right? I guess you would have called it Dinka-Collo war. Am I right? All None-Dinka and None-Nuer were reluctant to condemn the mass of murder of Balanda and Shilluk. If Nuer had questioned Salva Kiir negative behavior toward other tribes, the Dinka would have been harsh on Nuer and the war would have been broke out either in 2010 at the time of Collo massacre or in 2012 at the time Balanda mass murdered.

          Toria, a support of Equatorians for the SPLA-OI is not a support for Nuer, but you are liberating yourselves from tyranny regime. If you believe a support for SPLA-OI is a support for Nuer, I urge all Equatorians to quit Kiir genocidal regime and join REMNASA movement now that is being led by Equatorian man and operating in Western Equatoria. This would be a great credit for Equatorians if they will manage to change the dictator regime of Kiir.

          Toria, yes both Dinka and Nuer need Equatorians support because if changes become positive in the future, it will not be Nuer and Dinka who will enjoy the fruit of that change. Equatorians need to be part of change both politically and militarily. Equatorians should be the center of decision making. They should not be bystanders and act like foreigners in their own country in every struggle. Why do you like to live in burden when other people are ready to support you?

  8. alex says:

    Toria You are an Arab so you are not welcomed to get involved in S.Sudan. It is your goverment working to destablise our country. You destroyed Dafur and you think you can do the same in S. Sudan. Your goverment is a threat to Egypt, S. Suda, Central Africa and Libya. If these countries finished in sorting their problems, you Arabs in Khartoum will pay so dearly. We want you to experience the refugee life. We are neutrolising all those forces and soon we will teach you a lesson. You see what is happening now in Upper Nile. We will soon face ourselves face to face in the boader area. Equatorians are not cheap people. You can play with other tribes but not Equatorians. Wani Igga has been a fighter and he has choosen his destiney to be a free man and we ill not bow down to Arab looters. Just play with those you are able to play with their mind. Our unity and teritorial intergerity is our strenght. Respect for our consititution and building a democaratic persoperus country where the people have a say in their own affairs is our philosphy unlike the dictotorial Khartoum regime of Bashir.

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