BY: Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, DEC/27/2015, SSN;
A quote from what president Kiir said on Wednesday 23/12/2015 reads as follows: “We will do everything to keep our commitments in the implementation of the peace agreement which we have signed with our brothers.” Kiir said that after meeting with representatives of the advance team of the SPLM-IO on Tuesday 22/12/2015 in Juba.
24 hours later he issued a presidential decree appointing governors for the newly created controversial states. This is an unequivocal violation of the compromise peace agreement as it is based on the legitimate 10 states.
The move is clearly not in the spirit of bringing peace and stability to the war-devastated country. It’s mind-boggling that a president could have two utterly different messages to his people within 24 hours. People heard a pro peace message on Wednesday only to be confronted with a pro-war message on Thursday embedded in the latest presidential decree.
So what do we make of what he said on Wednesday?! It does not qualify for political bullshit according to Harry Frankfurt philosophical definition of it. It was an outright lie.
Scepticism never truly parted with the peace process since its beginning. Extreme animosity, mistrust and leaders putting personal and tribal interests before country interests were and are still the order of the day.
The reservation about the peace deal that the president declared at the time of signing the document was a clear indication that a bumpy road is ahead of the peace process. It even became apparent that sabotage and delaying tactics were being employed to frustrate and disrupt the implementation of the peace agreement.
The government initially demanded to be provided with biographies of the advance team members beforehand. This was followed by a demand to limit the number of the advance team to 30 individuals only.
Of course both demands were rejected by SPLM-IO as there are no provisions in the compromise peace agreement that support the government’s demands. The purpose of such demands is unclear but certainly leads to suspicion and further erosion of trust between the two parties.
It was the pressure from the IGAD-PLUS peace mediators and the chairman of the Joint Monitoring and evaluation commission (JMEC), former President of Botswana, Festus Gontebanye Mogae, that brought about the breakthrough in the deadlock and led to rapid movement towards implementation of the peace deal.
Mogae should be applauded for the no-nonsense stance that he has exhibited by serving both parties of the peace agreement with a timetable for tasks to be completed within a timeframe. By doing so he managed to put both parties under pressure to start implementing the peace deal.
In the first meeting of the JMEC involving all the parties, he urged them to work vigorously to pursue their tasks even if it means they have to work during the holiday period. He was very keen to make up for lost time as the implementation of the peace accord is already behind schedule.
It’s somewhat embarrassing that a foreigner is fully aware of the plight of our people and has the understanding of the need to move fast to avert disaster while the government continues to drag its feet all along the way.
From the moment the SPLM-IO advance team arrived in Juba, it became clear that they are up to a rocky start. Neither the government chief negotiator nor the spokesperson of its negotiating team and the chief of general staff of the SPLA were there to receive them.
It has since been revealed that the military command council (MCC) of the SPLA is sharply divided over the implementation of the security arrangements.
The cantonment provision in the compromise peace agreement is facing a stiff resistance and was never adhered to by the SPLA high command. The chief of general staff of the SPLA and a number of high ranking officers are stubbornly opposed to the security arrangements and would not stick to what was agreed upon.
Furthermore, the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) was supposed to have started its work by incorporating the compromise peace agreement into an amended constitution before the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) next month.
All these tell us that the peace agreement is in deep trouble.
However the appointment of the governors has elevated the conflict to a higher level. It should be noted that Festus G. Mogae made it clear to all the parties in the JMEC meeting that there will be no room for re-negotiation of the peace deal.
Now that new dynamics have come into play, we as South Sudanese citizens should be clear about where the country is heading to.
Key provisions in the compromise peace agreement have been made redundant by the latest presidential decree. The NCAC will not be able to function as stipulated in the peace accord because the government with the help of the illegitimate National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has enacted its unilateral amendments.
With the naming of the new state governors, SPLM-IO has been effectively blocked out of taking up its share of governorships. Also the states that were allocated to SPLM-IO do not exist anymore.
The future looks quite bleak even if the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) is finally formed.
Just consider two characters out of many, Paul Malong, the chief of general staff and Michael Makuei, the minister of information – whether they are kept in or left out of the would be TGoNU, they would still cause problems and not relent in their endeavour to derail the peace agreement.
At this moment in time; it’s fair to say that the appointment of the governors has rendered the peace agreement obsolete unless President Kiir rescinds it or refers it to the JMEC for discussion.
Now is the time for the heavyweight stakeholders to stand firm in support of the compromise peace agreement. The situation has reached the point of ‘to be or not to be’ for the peace agreement.
Kiir and his ruling clique should be put under maximum pressure to reverse course. Mogae should be empowered and given the support he needs to carry on with his highly appreciated efforts.
At this critical stage in the implementation of the peace agreement, there should be no ambiguity and the possibility of a showdown between Kiir’s regime and the international community should be borne in mind.
Dr Lako Jada Kwajok