Implications of the Regional Protection Force for South Sudan

By James Okuk, PhD, JUBA, AUG/08/2016, SSN;

After the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the IGAD Plus held a Summit meeting on 5th August 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to deliberate on the worrying situation of South, the communique that was issued finally released the “genie out of the bottle”, the deployment of regional protection force to South Sudan with a mandate of:

1) Protection of vulnerable civilians including foreign dignitaries and nation’s political leaders whose security is not seen to be guaranteed by the state.
2) Protection of key installations (e.g., Juba Airport and Nimule Highway) to be conducted jointly with TGoNU authorised security units.
3. Revitalisation and reinforcement of permanent ceasefire and security arrangements as stipulated in the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS).
4. Collaboration and coordination with the UNMISS peacekeeping forces in order to accomplish the protection mission as effectively as possible.

The language expressed in the 21-points of Communique resolutions is very strong diplomatically. Core synopses are:

1) “Punitive measures” to be considered on those rejecting peace, especially when South Sudan has become “a serious threat to regional peace, security and stability” due to the big number of civilian population who got displaced to the UNMISS camps, to neighboring and other countries since December 2013 as they went fleeing from brutalizing gun deaths and wounds, from looting and destruction of their properties, from serious human rights abuses including rapes and torture, from economic and humanitarian hardship; and also due to “proliferation of illicit small arms and weapons”.

2) “United stance” of the region to intervene with a military protection force into South Sudan against the intransigence of hardliners who want to dilute the ARCSS via fragrant violations for their power interest.

3) “Strong support” to JMEC’s Chairperson so that he could show his superior muscles to government in regards to oversight and remedial actions for smooth implementation of the ARCSS.

4) “The government bears a heavy responsibility” and it is advised to cooperate with the intervening foreign forces and honor the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) so as not to invoke confrontation with UNMISS and its regional allies in the protection or peacekeeping mission.

5) “Return to the status quo ante in line with ARCSS” by bringing together in Juba President Salva Kiir and the fired First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar so that they could sincerely recommit themselves to ARCSS implementation as they signed it.

6) “The Chairperson of the Commission to urgently transmit this communiqué to the UN Secretary General and, through him, to the UN Security Council for its action as appropriate and to engage all concerned Africa’s partners to mobilize their support and to report on her efforts to the Peace and Security Council” in South Sudan.

With these well-coordinated regional and international messages and undertakings, it could be foreseen that the August 12, 2016 UN Security Council meeting on South Sudan shall automatically vote for uplifting and extending the UNMISS mandate, given the IGAD-Plus communique and the above-mentioned directives given to the Chairperson of the AU Commission.

The Communique’s content and directives sum it all whether we rename the intervening regional force “protection force” or whatever diplomatic words’ manoeuvrings. This can tell how Juba has lost the sympathy of the region and the rest of the world while the common people are terribly disturbed by the high prices of commodities in the markets, which have now taken up more challenging arms to the detrimental of happy life of the people.

What used to sell option at one pound is now skyrocketing at ten pounds with government salaries kept at minimal bay to a poor purchasing power of the employees, who have now qualified to the decadent standards of “the working poor”. What is the way out from this cornering?

The only option left now is to negotiate the entry date and other details for the intervening regional protection force. Nothing much has been left to Juba except ceremonial sovereignty as far as security is concerned. Juba shall not be in a position to stop attack helicopters and drones hoovering over South Sudan and landing anywhere under the new mandate.

No tanks and mounted Toyota Thatchers from warring parties shall be allowed in Juba to protect any South Sudanese leader in the city except pistols as it is a common practice in the civilised countries. But will the security of hearts and minds be there for those who are used to trusting the big guns for everything?

Perhaps the frontline states are now responding to President Kiir’s caution (when he signed the deal in Freedom Hall in Juba last year) that the ARCSS implementation shall be a nightmare if the guarantors fail to impose it by force after they have done it by diplomacy.

This seems to be happening to the disbelief of hardliners and those who were not prepared for Juba’s shift of stance due to the intensified foreign pressure and massive civilian exodus. Juba has exhausted all the cards and there was nothing left in its power to reject the in-coming foreign protection force without being faced with dangerous consequences.

But we must know that no intervening regional actor is there innocently without some interests to secure:

1) The Sudan wants disarmament of its rebels as provided in ARCSS Chapter II.
2) Uganda wants to ensure that the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) and other opposition don’t find a base in South Sudan.
3) Kenya wants to secure its big investments and finance (e,g., KCB, Equity, Mombasa Port and other projects like LAPSSET) from South Sudan.
4) Ethiopia doesn’t want to anger its Nuer and Anuak population who can easily find tribal solidarity and support in South Sudan.
5) Rwanda is there to please the international community so as to continue assisting it with more economic benefits and infrastructure, and harvest the name of a successful post-conflict genocidal county in Africa that deserves international prizes and praises.

But where is the interest of South Sudan in all these self-help regional intervention? Perhaps it shall appear in ‘restoration of peace’ whose sustainability is supposed to lead to exit of the intervening actors once their mission is accomplished even to a satisfactory level.

Nonetheless, this usually doesn’t take less than five to ten years. The fashion has been a quick entry as the bad situation invites but slow exit even when the situation gets improved for a farewell.

The untimely call of the SPLM Secretary-General, Mr. Pagan Amum, for foreign trusteeship is outdated. Knowing him as one of the toughest propagandists and lobbyists the SPLM have had ever groomed, it can’t escape his nuance that ‘UN Trusteeship/Protectorate-ship” per se is not saleable under UN Charter, Chapter VII articles 76 and 77 for an independent country that has a recognised UN membership and a flag with a diplomatic mission accredited in New York, though the contemporary definition of sovereignty is predicated on:

a) Protection of the population without discrimination,
b) Undivided loyalty of the citizens to the state.
c) Enforceability of government powers within the jurisdictional territorial integrity.
d) Cooperation with the UN and other international and regional bodies based on treaties and conventions and with mutual recognition.
e) Viability of the state and sustainability of its government among other nations.

May be Cde Pagan is using his “South Sudan Reborn” campaign for attracting other attentions to South Sudan, particularly leadership change for the old veterans who might not be willing to accept ‘Generational Exit’ from power unless forced to quit by international powers so that the middle age leaders could get a chance of ‘Generational Entry’ to top power positions in the country.

It is high time the country’s leadership reflects deeply on the sorry state of the internal affairs and revise the foreign policy accordingly, especially after the government in Juba lost the international respect and sympathy (unlike what used to be in the past). Dialogue with the intervening foreign force is now a must.

There is a need to repair the sour relations with many former friendly countries. There is a need to knock doors of some new countries for widening the horizon of friendly relations.

This could be achieved through balanced and serious connections between political power, economic opportunities, people-to-people socialization and avoidance of tit-for-tat support for rebels or opposition groups, especially in the neighbouring countries.

Good neighborliness is the safest way to adopt in order to reduce suspicious hostilities and conspiratorial tensions at fragile times like this.

The country’s leadership needs to start paying keen attention to both local and international public opinions so as to scrutinise the accurate truth for a prudent and timely decision-making within the recurring tough, contradictory and complicated unfolding situations.

Succumbing to dangerous deadlocks and arrogant intransigence is not advisable now as the country needs to regain the lost goodwill of the region and the world at large.

The hot case in point here is how the First Vice President, General Taban Deng Gai, will get back to a junior position (i.e., a cabinet minister) when Dr. Riek Machar is back in Juba to assume his lost position as required by the ARCSS’ guarantors.

Since Mr. Taban has been lifted by a tricky situation to the highest level of the Presidency, how will he accept to fall the lowest again in the SPLM-IO hierarchy?

Perhaps by a miracle (which is too holy for power politics), or by totally quitting to join SPLM-IG’s side as he already declared his allegiance to President Kiir (but where there are no highest positions left), or by retiring from any ministerial position (but which is so rare a practice in Third World’s politics).

All in all, it is high time all of us should embrace and learn to handle foreigners without any deadly confrontation for the sake of peace and prosperity of our innocent young generation and posterity so that we don’t leave to them another Iraq, Somalia or Libya in South Sudan.

Our government gave half of Juba International Airport to UNMISS from 2011 up to now and there have been no street protests on that.

Ugandan forces were guarding Juba and Bor Airports from 2013 to 2015 and it was not a big deal to the sovereignty since it was done in the name of good neighborly ‘protection’.

Our Airspace, especially for oil installations in Greater Upper Nile, had been under Khartoum surveillance and no question of sovereignty was raised on that.

Ethiopian Airline used to shift from international to domestic flight by bringing passengers from Malakal to Juba from 2011-2012 and it was not an issue to our government. Why all the “downs-downs and dooms-dooms to the region and UN now”? Height of hypocrisy, isn’t it?

Our political leaders should learn that patience pays as Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere advised Southerners in Juba in February 1974 during his visit for celebration of the second anniversary of the Addis Ababa Agreement. “When we are patient, we shall all come out safer at the end.” Dialogue and Cooperation!

Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer of politics at Juba University reachable at


  1. Tyson says:

    This is the consequence of being led by cockroaches! The Jieng have humiliated themselves beyond any repair.
    This is the end of the current murderous and tribal government.
    The courts should be opened to try Kiir, Malong, Kuol Manyang, etc and all the Jieng Council of Evils to answer charges for bleeding this country and killing its people.
    No Jieng will ever be voted to power again under the watch of the protection force! As you mentioned earlier, none of these foreign powers will leave South Sudan even after 10 years.
    I pity our brothers in Abyei because the Jieng criminals have really betrayed them.

    • Force_1 says:

      If any of you believe that the “Jieng” will never have control in South Sudan; then you must be either lying to yourself or utterly mentally insane! This is like saying “White people in USA will never have control of United States”! We don’t have to argue over it now; let’s just wait for the future and then proof me wrong.
      The only control you would have over the “Jieng” is the control that you called Dinka Evils and criminals online in foreign countries. That’s the only control I would admit to be genuine; but any other control within South Sudan is just a daydream on your behalf.

      • Tyson says:


        I MUST repeat that Jieng will NEVER have a breathing space in South Sudan. Your days are numbered and time has come for the impossible to happen. You reap what you sow!!!
        The whole world knows that you are the criminals, rapists, looters, thieves, murderers,etc.. and never pretend that this ugly face will change in the shortest time.
        The protection force is here to help implementation of the August Agreement. The agreements wants criminals and devils like you to be persecuted.
        Nothing should deceive you that I am out of south Sudan!! I am in South Sudan and ready to watch your demise. Just remember Saddam and Gaddafi!!!
        People think with their brains to value and appreciate the love of God among their fellow brothers and sisters; but you think with your toes…. only to champion the acts of the devil. Shame on you with all your colony of devils!!.
        Good luck to hell!!!

      • Simba says:

        Arabs from the north used to talk the same way you do. They did not believe south sudanese will have control EVER.
        Now you as a jieng are saying the same thing. Some people never learn.

        • Force_1 says:

          Tyson & Simba;
          Yours are just empty rhetoric and that’s all you can do online and nothing else; we have been hearing all these empty and tough talk for a while now; most of you never made any contribution to the liberation of this country?
          Simba, you’re correct that Arabs use to say; South Sudan will never have independent but who made that independent happened? But who made the Arabs disappears to this day in South Sudan? The answer is simple Dinka! The Dinka overwhelmingly sacrifice their sweats and tears, sons and daughters and the images from liberation of South Sudan made it very clear without and doubt from anyone!

          The question; were there anyone of you taking parts to those sacrifices? Absolutely not! Where were you? You were hiding in either refugee camps in Africa or overseas. Now you want to run your mouth as if you made any contribution to this country! Just stay in the hiding to the rest of your life; you can never come to South Sudan and talk like that or else you would be history!

  2. Peacemaker says:

    Dr. James, You have made clarification on the nature of the intervention force. Lueth, Lomoro and Wek are deliberately misinterpreting the communique to appease their followers. The piece is worth sharing.

  3. mading says:

    Brother Force_1. you said it all, these dumb wishful thinkers do not know what they are talking about.

  4. Makana says:

    The school of thought of Dr. Okuk is in accordance with the international standards. However, as crooked as the political parameters are concerned and the mentality of the so-called Dinkanized government is concerned, the UN may be surprised by the utterly ludicrous behavior of the people who think they have the power to lie to the whole world, as if it was the olden times when Arabs could lie to the whole world about things in Sudan.
    We know that those Dinka politicians are very much aware that achieving peace could mean their downfall and if the peace in conjunction with setting up a transitional government is the ultimate goal that the UN and its partners would want to achieve, those Dinka politicians will do anything possible to derail the process. A self-Styled intimidating military crude personnel such as Pual Malong is ready to stir-up the murky waters again:
    This can be seen by the recent government request for a $2 billion loan from China, which they would perhaps use for prolonging the war to purchase military hard ware:

    Most importantly for this recent intervention to become effective, there are very crucial strategies that needs to be devised or revised over time because of the dynamics of the security instability/shifts from the government point of reference.
    Which is to say, as long as the protection forces are very active and not interfered or intimidated by the government in aspects of their claim to negotiate militarization of Juba and conditioning what the UN should bring along in terms of intervention, all point to the fact that the government believe they are sovereign and not even UN that gave South Sudanese the opportunity to vote in a referendum to achieve their independence, all show very naive manner the government is.
    For the advocates of the government that is murderous, such slim opportunities they believe could be exploited by waging war. And indeed, there are two sides to this intervention forces:
    1) Either the intervention forces shall take every necessary steps of the process of forming a new government in which there shall be new political personnel, or
    2) Continuation of formation of new government with the same faces and continuation of the status quo in which UN shall also get sucked into the war.

    However, should there be grave threats to the security of the masses, South Sudanese should be asked to vote in a referendum to be curved into nations, as the former Yugoslavia, the East Timor, Eritrea and the former USSR (Equatoria Region with Western Bahr El Ghaza and Bomer (Murle formerly Eastern Equatoria) can coexist ), Jonglei partitioned into Dinka and Nuer, and the rest of other Dinka by themselves and Shilluk with the Maban and Anyuak can co-exist. This is the point of departure where peaceful co-existence shall be realized in an international manner.
    Thanks for this vital opinion that will bring peace rather than other ethnic groups seeing themselves, as colonial masters over other ethnic groups.
    Uganda is already tired after Museveni has seen how dangerous this Dinka led government could cause political instability in Uganda

  5. alex says:

    If your relay on internet propagandist like okuk you will sink in a well of water where by you will not be able to come back.
    Did you hear yesterday in the television when the American ambassadress to S.Sudan was asked to clarify their position.
    All the opposition outlets are today quite and no one is writing about it. In addition, 3000 splm in opp rebels surrendered to the government all the internet worriers are ashamed to write about it instead they lie they are fighting around Yei . The truth will speak by it self. splm in opposition is on the way to disintegrate.

  6. Gatdarwich says:

    The traitorous Dinka’s kingdom is destined to die. No more rooms for manipulation and trickery tactics. Killer nyankiir will and shall be the last traitorous Jenges’ tribal president in South Sudan—patriots will and shall rule South Sudan indefinitely period

  7. Clark Doss says:

    But where is the interest of South Sudan in all these self-help regional intervention? Perhaps it shall appear in restoration of peace whose sustainability is supposed to lead to exit of the intervening actors once their mission is accomplished even to a satisfactory level. Nonetheless, this usually doesn t take less than five to ten years. The fashion has been a quick entry as the bad situation invites but slow exit even when the situation gets improved for a farewell.

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