Return of Dr. Riek Machar to Juba and the Next Political Move

By James Okuk, PhD, JUBA, APR/26/2016, SSN;

After exhausting the immature dramatic politicking about return of Dr. Riek Machar to Juba to take up his duties as the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan for 30 months of the overdue transitional period, finally the most wanted militarized politician arrived in Juba and took oath of office on Tuesday, 26th April 2016. Now the politics of Pagak-to-Juba is over.

What is remaining is how dirty power politics in Luri and Jebel Kujur (New Pagak) shall survive the elusive gunboat diplomacy.

The August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) is itself an ambitious project the D-days of its implementation modalities shall remain suspicious, if not unrealistic, in many aspects. The peace deal was designed with a purpose of silencing the guns and continuing with politics as usual in a less bloody and non-disaster in humanitarian dignity of the people.

SPLM-IG (In Government) has not been sleeping on the game of entrenching its support base for the control of the next government by any means possible. This faction has continued with operationalization of 28 states despite the diplomatic advice of the region and the international community not to pursue it unilaterally without first conducting objective feasibility studies through an inclusive and impartial professional commission.

Incorporating the letter and spirit of the ARCSS into the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan (2011) so as to promulgate the Transitional Constitution (2016) has been suspended due to lack of consensus on the defunctness of 10 states, limitation of powers of the President, filling up of parliamentary vacancies and other changes required for realizing transition from war to peace.

The other critical legislations for conducting government affairs during the transitional period are also still pending political quarrels.

Electing an Equatorian politician to be the Speaker of the National Legislative Assembly for the transitional period is still contentious as to who will gain the majority votes during internal elections that is supposed to be chaired by the oldest MP rather than the sitting Speaker.

Equatorians MPs are found in every party to the ARCSS (GRSS, SPLM-IO, SPLM-FDs and Other Political Parties) and the winner at the end will depend on the intelligence of the alliances inside the parliament.

The SPLM-IG’s Parliamentary Caucus is no longer cohesive as it used to be because many Equatorians are no longer the known loyalists to the GRSS agenda. They might join hands with others to come up with one candidate of their joint preference who might not be controlled by the GRSS.

They can be dismissed from SPLM-IG party but that will not be a license of uprooting them from their parliamentary seats because the constitution and ARCSS still protects them. But after all there is not going to be opposition in the parliament during the transitional period.

More critically, the GRSS has not taken the necessary measures to cement the already-sour bilateral relations with the Sudan in the light of comprehensive implementation of all the September 2012 cooperation agreements on borders, oil, trade, freedoms, banking, post-service benefits, pension, debts, assets, Abyei and viability.

Juba and Khartoum still don’t trust each other and have been suspicious of regime change with bad wishes in the back scratching. Nonetheless, politics of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Sudan and African Union Hybrid Court for South Sudan is what shall affect both SPLM-Juba and NCP-Khartoum without exception because of the magnitude of atrocities committed against humanity in the course of their conduct of the civil wars.

The economy is in shambles due to infection by the Dutch Disease and reduction of crude oil prices in international markets. Dollars and other hard currencies are no longer flowing to Juba as they used to when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was implemented in 2005 – 2011.

Borrowing money from IMF and other international financial institutions is going to be followed by stringent conditions, especially reforms and accountable standardization of the civil and military services.

Approval of government monies and distributing it like humanitarian relief items is not going to be possible as it used to be in the past when Dr. Riek was the Vice President to Salva Kiir.

The GRSS has rushed South Sudan into the East African Community (EAC)’s membership without due consideration to the current country’s weak situation in economic productivity and equitable export-import trade balance. Since the decision has not been people’ centered, the Transitional Legislative Assembly shall be faced with a dilemma of either ratifying or delaying the EAC Treaty of Establishment and other related necessary documents of the bloc.

The January 2015 Arusha Reunification Agreement is not going to materialize as Kiir has announced his elections candidacy in advance on SPLM ticket. That would mean the SPLM-IO and SPLM-FDs have to find salvation outside the disunified SPLM if they would like to vie for Presidency seat in the next nearest future.

The game is very clear and the reunified SPLM field is not going to be leveled for every candidate to play freely and safely. And as long as the SPLM-Kiir and SPLM-Riek continue to command armed forces, violent and deadly clashes during elections campaign shall not be ruled out totally unless some unusual rectifying situation emerged by then to neutralize the danger.

Notwithstanding, the return of Dr. Riek to Juba is not going to be business as usual because he is going to be a powerful First Vice President as stipulated in the ARCSS.

He is going to have an independent office which is not directly subservient to the President’s Office, unlike the case of Vice President James Wani Igga whose powers shall depend on what President Kiir assigns to him. He is even not supposed to be consulted on anything unless Kiir and Riek agree voluntary in advance to do so.

But again the ARCSS has not left Kiir and Riek to act alone as they wish because the transitional Council of Ministers has been given powers to control and direct their moves and decisions.

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) under leadership of President Festus G. Mogae shall also have its final say on any decision of the Presidency, the Council of Ministers and even the Parliament if they overstep the limits of the ARCSS’s letter and spirit.

No unilateral decisions shall be tolerated and no opposition shall prevail except for the Civil Society and those who are not part of the transitional government partners. No South Sudanese politician is going to be allowed to misbehave by conducting himself unilaterally like a king or an emperor. All South Sudanese are supposed to be partners and watchdogs in implementing the ARCSS.

Running away from Juba to the rebellious bush is not going to be tolerated any more if a politician found himself defeated by transitional politics. The rebels who have remained in the bush shall be persuaded to respond to the call of peace and pursuit of resolution of their grievances through dialogue.

Transitional Justice, reparation, reconciliation, mending of broken social fabrics and healing is supposed to kick off in earnest.

Thanks to peace-lovers and farewell to war-mongers. The next move should be the inculcation of serious planning, research, development and prosperity for all South Sudanese.


Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer of politics reachable at


  1. abai okwahu says:

    dr. okuk, you have elaborated the various obstacles that stand in the way of the forthcoming transitional government, and the way forward is bleak. kiir has killed any hopes for reunification of the splm by declaring his candidacy for president after the 30 months transitional period, there won’t be any opposition in parliament, two commanders-in-chief (separate armies) or shall we say ‘war-lords’. we might as well kiss democracy good bye, get used to totalitarianism (kiirism).

    • alex says:

      To me , I do not see any problems a told if splm in opp is not happy , they will remain a separate party and compete with the SPLM IG which healthy for democracy. We should not always look to SPLM party as the only route to the highest office in the country. Secondly, it will minimise competition for chairman chief. Any organisation has is own rules and ways of doing things or if someone need the chairmanship he/she can run as independent. Donald Triumph has done it in the Republican party. The party members tried hard to block him but now it most likely to break through the ranks. If you have the ideas and good manifesto I would not see reasons why S. Sudanese people will not elect you. The big thing with us is that , we like to oppose things and talk a lot but we cannot put our ideas on practice. We only look for ready made food.

      • abai okwahu says:

        mr. or mrs. alex, you do not seem to grasp the fact that there won’t be any viable opposition to the tyrannical regime in juba, first of all the splm/a-ig and splm/a-io are pseudo-political parties who are in fact backed by their respective armies. secondly, any constitutional amendments that attempt to strip the powers of the president would be met with serious opposition from kiir’s camp. until the link between parties and the army is cut there won’r be any true transition to a democratic state. your optimism is a waste of time.

  2. Deng says:

    For the sake of peace I welcome their reunion however, I am equally disappointed for the shame, the massive lost of innocent lives and the destruction of property they have created. I don’t really know what their innocent victims could say now if they see these two murderers reunited again and began to call themselves brothers, shame on you criminals!!

  3. De okeny says:

    Your points are well articulated, in this coming 30 months to come, in which in my opinion is going to be Tom and Jerry game .
    For both party to win credibility of the people of south Sudan, I strongly concurred with your strong recommendations for planning, research and development that shouldn’t be neglected.

  4. Gatdarwich says:

    Dr. Okuk,

    Even though, It might seems like there is no more rooms for political games, there still many for the evil forces to exploits—Jenges council of Evils can engineered shit anytime that can nullify all the legal provisions in the soon to be Government of National Unity. The ongoing illegal operational of the pseudo 28 states is a vivid recipe for imminent disaster period
    The road ahead will and shall be extremely bumpy and thorny full stop

  5. Alier Gai says:

    This is one of a kind article, Dr. Okuk.
    Let’s build a matual trust and good understanding among ourselves before we ask some external powers with their helps. Their helps come in the package of what they want from us and not what we don’t want from them. Power addicts and credit hunters are the ones selling us away and causing us sufferings. Their lying and their deceptions to thrust to power by whatever means are over with themselves being at risk. Their self-gained activities it didn’t work well in the past and it is still not working well now. Rebellion after another rebellion has to stop, for we are going nowhere with it and we are getting human damages than human gains. The government of South Sudan should take note on this issue very carefully in order to avoid the re-occurrence of the previous events. Corruption and hatred with the tribal-leaning-behaviors must come to a complete stop with no more ado of moving forward with them. The state has to invest her constitutional powers in the people and with the people only, so that democracy takes the right free way with the people using it as a vehicle to their chosen destiny. This thing should take an educated village to teach a child in terms of running a nation rightly. Educated people of South Sudan have to look at themselves and say, let us build our nation. But how is the question? Building a nation would require joined effort from the left to the right, from the corner to the center, from the wrong persons to the right persons. Chosen leaders take leading roles to render the needed services to their constituents even when they are not asked to do so. Security is the number one thing among other important items to deliver on the minutes/hourly basis. Protection of citizens as the government of the people is always there for them is a priority. Availability of food is another second thing follow by human health and education. These things are the crux of democracy than going for a self-showy war, but they are not there. What have we gained in the war? Nothing other than hotel accommodations. Tribal politics is dangerous at all angels. Our remarried leaders are disaster for the well-being of our nation called South Sudan. Deaths and human sufferings are staggering than they were during a war of liberation, and it has to be tackled through open dialogue in the country. These leading opportunists are not fit for our nation to command us again. Taking another chance to choose one of them would be unhealthy choice and it would be another grave mistake, if it comes to being. The nation needs to find ways to end their bloody activities by throwing them out from the power. Enoough is enoough, period.

    • Toria says:

      I agree with your assertion. Yes let us focus on development. But how do you develop Upper Nile or Bahr Ghazal when you all moved to Equatoria? And when you people claimed you liberated others does that mean you abundant your villages? Did you only liberated Equatoria and not Bahr Ghazal or Upper Nile? I don’t know if you remember during the war with North they used to say that there are no people living in your areas because it was covered with bushes and so they have the right to annex the area? Well, if then you like a more peaceful and organized Equatoria, sure you can come and stay but then let the Equatorians go and change both Bahr Ghazal and Upper Nile so that we have a more unified peaceful country if you fail to do so. You need to learn from the Equatorians, there are more dialects in Equatoria but we view ourselves as one big family, we don’t even refer to ourselves as tribes anymore but just Equatorians. Yes, we fought our tribal wars during colonial period and now we would like to focus on unity more than anything.
      You Jenges are too much preoccupied with false claims of integration and trying to create your dominion and tribal hegemony. You must now learn that tribal colonies are the things of the past and your attempts will be discouraged swiftly.
      If we really want true peace and development to come. First thing to do is to let everyone go to start development in our individual villages, once there are roads and proper shelters, schools and hospitals then integration will automatically ensue. Not to say that those in the public offices or servants shouldn’t be allowed to live anywhere they are assigned. Public Servants are exempted as far as I am concerned.
      The next thing to do if you really want peace is to remove your cattle and leave the land for cultivation, you can not feed the whole nation with meat or milk alone, we need mass production of grains and vegetables. fruits, Cassava, potatoes etc, and we can’t do that with your cows roaming in the fields. You need to ask the government (Mabior Garang) to build fences and begin modern ranching programs, and let the Wildlife Forces protect your cattle from rustling each other’s properties. (((((((Peace cannot prevail until everyone learns to respect the others.)))))))

  6. False Millionaire says:

    One hopes they were for peace.But never shorten to believe that human appearances are misleading by nature and embrace yourself for the worst!!!

  7. Dr. Okuk,

    Although you have mentioned some sensitive issues that these two leaders are supposed to tackle, there are many other issue that time is the essence to address. I hope this guys will work together to see that there is real peace and development in the country. If they act like cats and mouse, I’m sure it will not take long to send citizen once again on their heals to the jungles. The chemistry between the two men can’t produce panacea because the relationship between Dinka and Nuer is always influx. But as the wedding commences, time will tell if this is a real marriage. Apart from development that they should tackle, the nagging issue is not the roaming of jieng cattle In equatorial that must be repatriated as soon as possible. The boarder between South Sudan and the Sudan, then Uganda and South needs serious attention. The presence of Ugandan troops in Magwi county, Pajok Payam is very bad because these troops embarked in mining minerals from the area especially around God Adodi. The work like monkeys in the field believing that their presence is not tolerated in the field. Our government` must see that these looters return to their country.

  8. Toria says:

    To the newly formed Honorable Cabinets
    Now is the right time for the newly formed cabinets to start seriously considering the relocation of the capital to Ramciel, like in many countries there can be two or even three capital cities, e.g. Abuja and Lagos, Pretoria and Johannesburg, Kampala and Entebbe, Khartoum and Omdurman, Washington DC and New York are some few examples, whereby Juba could be a commercial and Ramciel the seat of FEDERAL government. This will ease the burden on the host population who have seen more corruptions in our lands by the elites.

  9. Deng says:

    False Millionaire,

    Your’re right and we would be prepared to forgive them once again if their current reunion is genuinely for peace but not just a short break to plot more destruction of lives & properties.

  10. Well, let’s tone down the retoric and give them an opportunity to lift the burden of governance. If they cannot govern, as we have witnessed since independence, they shouldn’t complain or blame each other for a coup or rebellion.

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