BY: Akim Salah
The mix reactions to the Khartoum-Kampala coerced peace deal demonstrate the difference between naïve tribal opportunists and rational thinking citizens.
To begin with, the peace is all about maintaining the status quo, keeping the same failed pilot (Kiir) and co-pilot (Machar) with their respective manipulated blind followers to continue dominating the national stage/affairs regardless of contemporary history of disastrous results of epic proportion in their names.
As long as these two safeguarded the interests of the Sudanese and Ugandan demi-gods at the expense of the common people suffering in POC and refugee camps there is no problem.
M7 (Uganda’s president Museveni) turned deaf ears to testimonies of fleeing refugees in his backyard because he reaps big from aid, hence sees no reason to review relationships with Juba or at least ask his partner in crime (kiir) to change the game for the sake of the suffering people.
Yet he can afford to taunt the junior friend for failing to unite the people – What a paradox!!
Much as the old man is keen to bolster the Juba regime, economic realities back home biting hard, the Blood Dollar is no trickling in right volumes hence he has to find a way of getting back the lost trade without compromising his own regime (I will come to that latter).
While the economic meltdown in Sudan, coupled with its ambitious development plans quickly reminded El Bashir that after all, it has always been South Sudanese resources boosting Khartoum’s socio-economic development, even after the CPA, the oil dividends make more resounding proportion for development in Khartoum than Juba.
Whereas, in South Sudan itseif, looters squandered their fraction of the pie on lavish cars, properties abroad, prostitutes, and a good amount going to appease their godfathers in East Africa.
Only stupid optimists will think that the two warlords (godfathers) believe that the signed agreement will last. It was written all over their faces and eluded to only in words.
However, if one has to decode the unsaid statements “do not use these ceasefire to prepare for war” said Museveni. Yet reports indicate that he is training SPLA-IG snippers possibly in fear of a repeat of the humiliating clash in July 2016, when the meager, tactfully superior SPLA-IO forces mourned their brothers (IGs) at Jebel with a terrifying catastrophic speed – Only those who have not been in Juba/jebel can deny this fact.
Reports from credible sources intimate that if only there were 5,000 IO forces armed with artilleries, Juba would have gone, and all the same it took the better trained SPLA Units of National security to dislodge them, much like in 2013 when General Mamur had to wrestle out conquered Giada from the Nuers.
With inferences to these tragedies that cost lives of thousands of young men and women including children some of whom are still an accounted for, it’s safe to say mistrust, suspicion, the old vices of tribal hatred and vengeance have taken root to the extend of foiling any peace effort unless it’s addressed in good faith.
That brings us to the Equatoria puzzle. Relatively muted but heavily marginalized, the Equatorians’ aspirations are grossly ignored in the Khartoum deal.
That’s not because they do not have genuine stake/claim but because their forces are construed weak, not to possess real threat to Juba Regime.
These Groups found their backs against enemy friend’s wall hence logistically challenged, let alone the intelligence gathering.
More so, there is what I can call the Equatorian Phobia by both Juba and Kampala Regimes. Kampala, especially M7, knows too well semi-autonomous or independent Equatoria could pose real threat given its cultural ties with the northern Uganda and DR Congo tribes, if Idi Amin’s reign is something to go by.
It’s in Equatoria, too, that the landlocked country’s major roads linking it to the sea ports of Mombasa and Dar El Salaam are found.
Any major war with the host taking an upper hand will paralyze trade and bring the economy to its knees.
The bitter truth that the regime hates but can’t be denied is the fact that some of the Equatorian Brethren are well advanced culturally, educationally, are hardworking and development minded.
They have to be marginalized to bridge the gaps.
Of late the Equatoria phobia manifested itself in Upper Nile where the youth agitated for Equatorian employees’ expulsion from NGOs.
This was also echoed in some sections of Bhar El Ghazel and still rolling. One can be forgiven to make a guess that some of these moves are politically engineered.
The disturbing question is: will the Equatorians continue to fold their hands, endure the continuous marginalization under the watch of Wani Igga all in the name of peace?
Or will they rally behind Thomas and Bakasero to demand for a version of Federalism that suits their aspirations?
Choosing the latter means war, banditry attacks…etc, hence denying Juba to eat their looted delicacy at peace.
The Way Out:
If lasting peace is to be realized, the governance question must be renegotiated to give each region a fair share of power to run its affairs though we can still have same army, money, etc….
Summarily, mistrust, suspicion, the old vices of tribal hatred and vengeance, the Equatoria-Phobia & marginalization are set to deny lasting peace a chance.
***************Time be my Judge****************************