REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN
JIENG COUNCIL OF ELDERS – JUBA
Monday July 6th, 2015
Response of the Jieng Council of Elders to the Latest IGAD Proposal on Power Sharing;
Since the outbreak of the on-going costly war in South Sudan in mid-December 2013, between the government and the armed rebellion, the regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with support from the international community has been exerting efforts that aimed at ending the conflict.
The Jieng Council of Elders (JCE), as a body that is genuinely interested in the attainment of a sustainable peace in South Sudan, though the dream of attaining a durable peace in South Sudan remains sadly elusive applauds IGAD, the region, and the international community for their efforts to help the warring parties to address their differences through a negotiated political settlement.
There are a number of factors for this situation which include the existence of a wide gap between the two parties to the conflict; IGAD’s own internal contradictions and lack of better understanding when it comes to the nature of the conflict; poorly designed mediation agenda and competing interests on the part of those supporting IGAD.
In its latest attempt to push for a peace agreement, IGAD released a document entitled “Key Provisions and Justification for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan” to the representatives of the warring parties, distributed recently in Addis Ababa during a consultative meeting with an expressed aim of resuming the currently stalled peace talks.
The JCE is responding to this latest IGAD document to evaluate the viability of the proposal in terms of its potential to end the war in this country. To this end, JCE will highlight certain areas that are problematic, thus presenting a serious challenge to the attainment of peace and stability.
The areas that have some serious concern include power sharing ratios; expansion of the National Legislature; arrangements for states most affected by the conflict; demilitarization of the national capital; establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS); and powers of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).
On power sharing formula, the IGAD proposal gives the SPLM/A – IO 33% share of the executive at the national level, second largest position in the national legislature, and control of the three states of Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity by 53%, followed by the government with 33% and the remaining 14% for the former detainees and other political parties combined.
The first issue with this proposition is the basis upon which such power ratios were arrived at.
What is the justification for giving the opposition 53% in the war affected states? Does this suggest that the mediation had assumed that Nuer community in opposition, which almost constitutes all of the rebellion, is the majority in the three states?
If this is the case, has IGAD mediation accepted the narrative that the war is between the Jieng and the Nuer?
If the decision is predicated on this, has the mediation taken due diligence to establish the exact ethnic ratios in the three states to form the basis of how power ratios were calculated?
Moreover, if power is being shared on the basis of ethnic ratios, how could the Nuer in opposition get 33% of the state power when the whole ethnic group constitutes no more than 15% of the total population of South Sudan?
This is perhaps also assuming that the whole Nuer community has joined the rebellion. It has not. Of course, the truth is that the conflict is not between the Jieng and Nuer but rather between the government and those who rebelled against the state.
The reality of this war is that it is a political one. Besides, the opposition does not control the said states. It controls only a fifth of the whole area in the Greater Upper Nile region.
The proposal clearly lacks any sound basis, devoid of any coherent logic and does nothing more than to fragment the society and threatens to further aggravate an already fractured social fabric.
The people object to any power sharing ratios being extended to the states because states are diverse and there are many other considerations that go into the decision to form government at the state level that do not necessarily fall into the power ratios.
Regarding the need for the SPLM-IO to be the second largest group after the government in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), the IGAD proposal seeks to expand to 400 members.
It is appropriate to note that no rationale is given for expanding the NLA. JCE is of the opinion that the expansion of the legislature is unjustifiable given that it was an elected legislature and expanding it to accommodate members of the opposition would be unfair to the constituencies that do not have members in the opposition.
The expansion of the legislature would not only be unfair, but it could create over representation of one community in the government, a situation that is likely to provoke others to embrace use of violence to get represented.
This is a clear case of rewarding abnormality and rebellious tendencies. If there are important members of the rebellion who need to be accommodated in the government, they should go to the executive at the national level.
The same proposal prescribed the demilitarization of the national capital. The public fails to see any reasoning for the demilitarization of the national capital. Juba, the capital city is the sovereign seat of the government and it must remain fully under the control of the national government including its army, police and other organized forces.
It surprises everyone to see such proposal from IGAD. There is no precedence for this and so the people reject any attempt to render their national capital devoid of the national army.
This is essentially non-starter and it deserves an outright rejection from all the people of South Sudan. It is not the presence of troops in the national capital that creates political crises; it is the tendency of politicians to use force to resolve political matters that should be tamed.
Concerning justice and accountability, the proposal makes emphasis on the need to establish a hybrid court, whose mandate would be to try suspected cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity under International Law.
This court, which according to the proposal should be established through a MOU between the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), African Union and the United Nations will see its staff and judges jointly appointed by the Chairperson of AU and UN General Secretary.
Perhaps this institution is proposed under the assumption that South Sudan’s legal institutions do not have the capacity or the will to carry out justice in the country.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that such arrangement under the international system neither brings justice to the victims nor reconciliation in the war-affected communities.
Given this reality, JCE is of the opinion that the people of South Sudan are capable and have the experience to deal with justice and accountability matters within their customary systems as well as statutory mechanisms.
By doing this, the process of healing, reconciliation and justice will be expeditious.
An international court such as the one proposed may not enjoy the cooperation of the state and the citizens and therefore would delay justice and it is most likely to delay the achievement of peace and reconciliation in the country.
Furthermore, the proposal talks about the court having jurisdiction in respect to matters of genocide and other crimes committed since December 2013. Since when has IGAD determined genocide as having been committed in South Sudan?
This is telling enough in a sense that there is a serious degree of prejudice and bias towards South Sudan and this is sufficient to warrant our objection to the creation of such an international body.
While the people see the importance of having a body that can monitor and evaluate the progress in terms of the implementation of the peace agreement, JCE is simply stunned by the proposed powers of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).
According to IGAD, JMEC will be tasked with overseeing the implementation of the agreement, a mandate that essentially guarantees this body “the power to take corrective action in the event of non-compliance with the terms of the agreement”.
Moreover, the proposal intends to make JMEC more than just a body that is entrusted to monitor and evaluate the performance and progress with respect to the peace agreement but rather a powerful governance institution that “shall oversee institutions created or operating during the Transition”.
To ensure that JMEC fulfills its mandate, “all transitional institutions” are expected to regularly report to it.
This is a situation similar to the transitional authority in Iraq that was headed by foreign powers and so if it is allowed, it will set a new precedent for the rest of Africa.
The proposed powers of JMEC simply infringe on the sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan and therefore, the JCE cannot support the creation of such a body with sweeping powers.
The people may support such a body in as far as it can monitor and verify violations and refer its findings to the principals of the parties to the agreement for resolution.
In conclusion, JCE want to reiterate its support to all efforts leading to the attainment of peace in our country, particularly IGAD mediation efforts as well as the efforts of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the African National Congress (ANC) in Arusha attempting to reunify the ruling party.
JCE is deeply concerned however, that the IGAD mediation efforts are becoming less and less credible with proposals such as this and it is hoped the mediators take serious corrective actions to restore the integrity and credibility of the process.
It is indeed regrettable that the IGAD mediators have fallen short to comprehend the complexity of the crisis; otherwise proposals such as the power sharing ratios would not have surfaced.
This proposal supports speedy fragmentation and dismemberment of this country and people of South Sudan strongly oppose anything that culminates in the disintegration of the people and the country.
The peace process should be anchored on the urgent desire to reconcile and reunite the country, so critical decisions about the future of the country should not be dependent on the fierce compulsion for political expediency.
What this country needs is a deliberative process that preserves its unity, promotes sustainable peace and provides equitable political dispensation. The latest IGAD power-sharing proposal fails to live up to these aspirations, prompting outright rejection.
Signed by Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) Representatives:
Justice Ambrose Riny Thiik
Joshua Dau Diu
Charles Majak Aleer
Maker Thiong Maal
Daniel Dhieu Matuet
Thon Mum Kejok
Aldo Ajou Deng
Parmena Awerial Aluong