Poor management of political crisis caused political instability in young nation of South Sudan

By: Abraham Garang, Nairobi, Kenya, MAY/27/2014, SSN;

The failure to manage political wrangling inside SPLM party caused many innocent people death, displacement and the vandalism of citizens’ properties. If the President and his advisers were really astute and genuine nationalists, who believe in unity and the future of South Sudanese, in hindsight, they would have solved their internal disputes without killing innocent South Sudanese.

However, the government planned their political tactic to silence any opposition by forging a “coup attempt.” South Sudanese and the International Community have now come to comprehend that there was no coup d’etat.

The alleged coup d’etat was an attempt to demolish any political adversaries especially Dr Riek Machar and Mr Pagan Amum who have expressed their candidacy for the top job of leading the country.

The leadership intentionally created unbearable political environment without prophesying the outcomes of their actions.

The president has not shown any leadership in solving this matter before and it is unlikely for him to do in the present. The president’s lack of leadership took ‘the country in a direction no one desires.’

The positive outcome of this plot made by the leadership is the fact the rebel leader Dr Machar has lost credibility due to his response to the calamity. This has made people lose trust in Dr Machar and his presidential ambition is now limited.

On the other hand, the negative aspect of President Kiir is the reality that South Sudanese have been mortally affected by his ill plan to eliminate Dr Riek Machar.

President Kiir planned to eliminate any opposition but he underestimated Dr Riek Machar’s influence in the army and among the entire South Sudanese.

The person responsible for all this mess is President Kiir and for the country to move forward he should resign immediately because South Sudanese lost confidence in him.

The International Community and African Union are investigating who did what and who are the culprits for crimes against humanity. For South Sudan to move forward Mr Kiir and Dr Riek should be indicted for crimes committed by their loyal forces.

The Republic of South Sudan gained its Independence on 9 July 2011 with enormous sanguinity and high expectations of her citizens. The hope and expectation is not released instead the government embarked on killing her people.

SPLM/A leadership had abandoned the visions proposed by late Dr John Garang but those holding the steering wheel used new direction which resulted in the massacre of innocent South Sudanese.

This led civilians and SPLM/A cliques to believe that the leadership of President Kiir has lost direction.

Riek Machar and his comrades were democratically entitled to articulate their political sentiments to the leadership for the betterment of the nation. However, the president accused them of insolence and criticizing his leadership.

When South Sudan became an independent state many South Sudanese were very content with the long deserved achievement of Independence. However, the leadership has failed the country and utterly forgot that independence was achieved because of the collective sacrifices made by all tribes in South Sudan.

Unfortunately, some tribes see the country like it is their property, this occurred especially when they use terms like “we liberate you or we’re born to rule you.” And their undemocratic president supports it by jailing anyone opposing their ludicrous conception.

It’s sad that our leaders have forgotten the history of our people and the suffering they have gone through during the liberation. No one expected the ongoing conflict to happen in an independent South Sudan.

The recent political commotion that started as a political squabble within the ruling party after political disparities among powerful players made the world’s youngest nation spin into where it is today.

The reformists were calling for democracy in the party. However, their sentiments to democratize the party have been misinterpreted by the president as a threat to his rule and position.

The SPLM senior members have been barking behind the president to tackle corruption and embezzlement of public resources within the party by some elites. However, the president does not believe in civility and democratic principles to prevail in the party.

In fact, he wants to rule the young nation of South Sudan with dictatorship tendency, which has resulted in a schism in the country today.

The president’s autocracy progress within the party created political mayhem that has resulted in many innocent lives lost, displacement of two million South Sudanese.

The cause of this political chaos is the failure of the leadership to allow the party to discuss its mandate and manifesto. Based on my own analysis, I think this will not be the end of future fights amongst the Dinka and Nuer if the born-to-rule ideology is still upheld by many Dinka.

But this is an indication of what would occur in the future if the same leadership lingers in power and fails to give power to the people.

Historically, the Dinka and Nuer have never co-existed in peace since the current rebel leader Dr Riek Machar disagreed with Dr John Garang in 1991, it resulted in a lot of people dead or displaced.

This put into the minds of the majority of the Nuer that the Dinka were cowards and Nuer can defeat and ruin them.

On the other hand, the Dinka believe that Nuer are “traitors” and should not be trusted for high office given what Riek Machar had done in 1991 and the defection of many Nuer Generals to destabilize the movement at that time.

When they heard that Dr Riek Machar expressed his intention to be a presidential candidate, many Dinka believed that he has betrayed his people when he revolted in 1991.

The Nuer people also hold similar perception about the Dinka people; many of them believed that Dinka are authoritarian and they don’t want other tribes to lead.

During the movement, the current rebel leader accused the late Dr John Garang of being a dictator and stages a coup against him, which delayed the victory of the SPLA/M. This is what has happened again; Dr Riek Machar accused the president of being a dictator and replicated what he had done in the past.

This became a socio-political assumption of these two major tribes that one community accused the other community of ruling the country with impunity, and this negative discernment will not bring peace and normality in the young nation of South Sudan.

In regard to what took place in the capital Juba on 15 December 2013, was diffused by tribal perception. If there had been no tribal socio-political concept amongst these tribes, the Nuer and Dinka, to grapple for political power then this political mayhem could have been contained and many lives would have been saved.

Therefore, the leadership manipulated this tribal deem that the Nuer were not genuine nationalist like “Dinka”. The leadership is utilising this tribal political maneuver to dichotomize tribes in order to remain in power.

How can we expect to live in a peaceful independence state when the leadership discourages political unity amongst citizens? This tribal war was no surprise; it was something likely or expected to happen, but it’s fuel by tribal dogma to where it is now.

After Dr Machar left Juba on the night the fighting erupted, shouting that he was about to be assassinated by the president’s loyal forces. The government forces committed massacre targeting one ethnic group, the Nuer people.

However, despite what happened, history and memories will live forever, regardless of the outcomes of the ongoing peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Regional and International community interests toward South Sudan crisis

In most cases, the international community policy towards Africa is often motivated by their need for African natural resources, for example oil. They used their help to Africa as a tool for accessing African natural resources.

The international community can be accused to have a role in every political crisis in Africa. If a leader refused to “cooperate with their policy”, then the consequences involved sanctions, support of opposing political factions and even threats to bring them to the “International Criminal Court”.

African people in reality appreciate all the efforts made by the international community to assist African people, but the international community must not involve itself in our own political affairs.

I would say that, political instability in all the countries of Africa are caused by international community. Also, I would suggest that all African oppositions are politically advocated for by the international community.

The “International Community” were the culprit for the “political instability” in Libya, Egypt and other countries in Northern Africa and the whole of Africa. The post elections violence in Kenya and political instability in Zimbabwe and many other countries are caused by the “international community”.

The recent political incident that occurred in Juba, the capital of the new republic of South Sudan could be analyzed that the “international community” had played a role.

The region and the western powers portrayed political interests in South Sudan crisis which delayed the peace talks. This is because the International Community are trying to influence and pressure IGAD to make President Kiir step down.

President Kiir did not invited international community to take full control of South Sudan oil, since the contract was given to China, it made them to pursue other alternatives for toppling President Kiir administration. This is because their interests were not fulfilled by the SPLM/A leadership.

However, the “regional and International Community” embrace different interests in South Sudan crisis. Some international players had condemned the violence and urged for immediate peace talks to take effect.

Since this fighting broke out the International Community stance was very clear. Their political support to the rebels was obvious. For instance, some ambassadors in South Sudan said “the rebels are fighting a just war”. This is an indication that the International Community supports the rebels.

The region condemned the rebel leader and urged him to put down his arms. All these political and economic interests have delayed the peace talks and might possibly result in different and unexpected outcomes.

On the other hand, countries like Uganda and Kenya have trade ties with South Sudan and they did not want South Sudan to become a failed State like Somalia knowing their countries would also be affected.

This is what constituted the Ugandan president to immediately intervene in the crisis by sending his troops to South Sudan to fight alongside SPLA forces to defeat the enemy of the region “Dr Riek Machar”. Kenyans and Ugandans have businesses in South Sudan and they do not want their businesses ruined and looted by the rebel forces. For instance, Banking, Insurance and Aviation.

Ethiopia has also economic and political interests in South Sudan and the Ethiopian government doesn’t want to see South Sudan failing. Ethiopia owns businesses in Juba and other states, cities all across the country. Therefore, Ethiopia do not want instability in South Sudan because it will damage its own lucrative trade with Juba, as well huge influx of refugees fleeing to their territory.

Power sharing arrangements

Power sharing would be the best possible solution for the warring parties to bring lasting peace in South Sudan. The aim of powering sharing arrangements is often to cease violence.

The power sharing agreement would be the foundation of a political transformation process leading to new elections in 2017 or 2018. These agreements would reduce tension and tribal war, and at least, can bring reform. At some point, power sharing might undermine the political process in the long run.

The distribution of power and government offices is negotiated in a small elite circle mostly made up of those who were the key drivers of the escalation. This can contribute to actors using unfair tactics to stay in power via negotiation.

The conflicts are rarely solved through negotiation, but are preserved. The main opponents and fractions usually remain the same, even if they make concessions. With new elections, old conflicts resurge quite easily.

The peace accord signed by the two warring parties was already violated on the night the two leaders signed the cessation of hostilities. The SPLM-in-Opposition believes in peace, however, the SPLM leader did not believe in peace talks due to optimism of military victory with its ally.

During the signing of a peace agreement, you can tell by observing President Salva Kiir’s and Riek Machar’s faces, the duo are not ready for peace. You can tell that from the body language.

In any peace agreement, the signatories must pledge publicly and accept peace for themselves because the civil population would follow their example. But the president and the rebel leader signed an agreement without a smile and a handshake. This has shown IGAD, the International Community and political scientists serious doubt about that peace accord.

Abraham Garang lives in Nairobi- Kenya.


1 Comment

  1. Elhag Paul says:

    Dear Abraham Garang
    You brilliantly stated that, “The person responsible for all this mess is President Kiir and for the country to move forward he should resign immediately because South Sudanese lost confidence in him.” I totally agree with you. Even President Kiir’s most trusted ally President Museveni of Uganda recently suggested Kiir is rubbish.

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