Saving South Sudan From Kleptocracy: Help needed from the International Community


The peace deal in South Sudan won’t bring real peace or stability until the larcenous (SPLM/A) leadership can be compelled to change its ways.

South Sudan’s belligerents have signed a peace deal, but it is far from certain that the brutal 20-month civil war is over.

If the next steps the parties take are simply to restore the status quo that existed before the war’s eruption, the odds are wildly in favor of a return to deadly conflict.

However, if the implementation of the agreement is seen as a chance to restart the construction of a viable state in the world’s newest country, dismantling the violent kleptocracy that it’s become since independence in 2011, then South Sudan has a chance for peace.

There are monumental obstacles at multiple levels to peace in South Sudan. But the biggest challenge is the nature of the state itself.

In its short life as a nation, governing institutions have been hijacked for personal enrichment and advancement by rival factions of military and civilian officials.

When one clique threw the other out of government, it laid the groundwork for war. Those in power don’t want to compromise because they lose the spoils of absolute authority and the immunity from prosecution for their many human rights and economic crimes.

The political system has become a winner-take-all battleground, a showdown between rival kleptocrats who use ethnicity as a mobilizer, thus deepening divisions within society.

At the regional level, the biggest obstacle to peace has been the proxy war between Sudan and Uganda that is playing itself out on South Sudanese soil.

Uganda has thousands of its own troops deployed to South Sudan in support of the Juba government.

For its part, Sudan continues to provide safe haven and support to South Sudanese rebels, including a breakaway faction of the armed opposition now based in Khartoum that hasn’t signed the peace deal.

These regional divisions will continue to haunt South Sudan unless they are countered firmly by other states with influence over Kampala and Khartoum.

To support the implementation of the peace agreement, a huge investment must be made by the international community in supporting the creation of real transparency in the way the government conducts its business.

Billions of dollars have gone missing in the last decade in a looting free-for-all spree. Meaningful anti-corruption measures such as oversight for oil revenues and accountability for economic crimes must be established.

And assistance to civil society and independent media should increase in order to support their ongoing efforts at whistle-blowing and investigating sources of grand corruption and human-rights abuses.

Space for civil society participation during the transition and protections for journalists should be made preconditions for the resumption of normal donor activities.

A major issue will be restraining the spoilers within government and rebel camps who are benefiting politically and financially from instability. The gravy train that resulted from the absence of the rule of law and transparent institutions must be dismantled.

Nothing less than a hard-target transnational search for the assets that have been stolen over the last decade is required, aiming to seize, freeze, and return the proceeds of corruption to the South Sudanese people.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Initiative should be deployed chasing the ill-gotten gains that have fueled the destruction of South Sudan by its own elites.

Finally, the hybrid court established by the peace deal must have the technical, legal, and investigative resources necessary to prosecute economic crimes as well, including pillage and grand corruption.

Serious targeted sanctions should be directed at spoilers who undermine the implementation of the agreement.

During President Obama’s late July trip to the region, he spelled out the need for the international community to “raise the costs of intransigence” should the warring parties fail to reach an agreement.

This certainly helped catalyze the momentum towards a deal. The U.S. can help in implementing the deal it helped foster by doubling down on pressure for implementation and making a major investment to counter the corrosive corruption that helped lead to war in the first place. END


  1. Toria says:

    Excellent, nothing to add

  2. Ghol Chot says:

    “Saving South Sudan From Kleptocracy: Help needed from the International Community”

    The US should just chill out a bit, the evil corporate America should give us a break—-no one wants an evil corporate America, Europe or the so-called IGAD-PLUS long noses these days. You have chess-game and Geo-politically-football-played South Sudan and the South Sudanese people in the hotels, brothels and bars of Adis Ababa, crafting your so-called peace agreement that was nothing to do with the South Sudanese people’s peace; but your piece of sh!t to crawl your evil corporate America and Europe into our country. That is not going to happen folks.

    The US of A even has some guts to lecture others about corruption! What do they really smoke in the US really? The US is the most corrupt country on earth; where corruption is legalised; where the elections are bought and sold to the highest bidder by the corporate America; where Wall street banksters rig the financial systems at whim and pay their butts out of the corrupt US justice systems; where the rich white American commit terrible crimes and are often let off the hooks scot-free by the corrupt US justice system and where the US prison systems are jam-packed by African-Americans and Latinos?!

    Is that the US that this clown with this trashy is lecturing us? The US should first of all go back home to go and resolve your own simmering civil war between Black Americans and the white American police, before you folks come and resolve South Sudanese people internal issues. Your evil corporate America has no place in South Sudan and your Riek Machar puppet/stooge isn’t going to walk the street of South Sudan again without coping our bullets on his damn skull, trust us folks.

  3. The real peace in south Sudan will only come if the international community act significantly to see that Compromise Peace Agreement is implemented. South Sudan is a country that is beleaguered by gangs of tribal leaders who have no vision how to built the country. Although lack of education is blame for most of the time because the leaders that have ascended to the helm of leadership in the country are mostly camouflaged men of military vestiges. They have no idea how to built the country, and they have no vision for the country. Most of them are extremely aggressive and adamant to any correction, change, new idea, and suggestion to straighten the country. They have been acting impunity and any challenges to the authority is met with maximum threats of arm is right. That is the reason why corruption is rampant and the country has been sliding slowly to lawlessness and desegregation.
    The question that most of us asks is “what is wrong with us south Sudanese’? The answer is clear but most importantly, we need change to all organs of government in order to move our country forward. Because many action and activities in the country has tribal elements that has frustrated good hearted people, especially the international community, and IGAD who loves south Sudan, they put extra resources to built our nation but we failed them. It is our tribal sentiment and ignorant that plunged our country into war. The results are unspeakable distraction, massive lost of life, and underdevelopment. Unless we disdain our tribal character of dominance upon one another,war in south Sudan will never end.The initiative of Comprehensive of Peace Agreement is a good step toward a prosperous nation, but that will be sustainable only if the warring parties shun up bitterness and embrace peace. In 1960s the British Prime minister Churchill, said that, “the wind of change was blowing across Africa.” Lest see if this wind of change will blow peace and prosperity in our nation, the Republic of south Sudan.

  4. johnjerry says:

    We start the problem then start running to get help. when you are in position of power, your power lies with the people as these are the people you are leading and not killing. Now that the peace has been signed why keep killing of innocent people. Clean up your house before you call someone to clean your mess for you. He will see where your dirty clothes are and will take advantage of insulting you in anyway and you will be ashamed to say a word. Now that the UPDF,DARFURIS,and the Nubians are asked to leave within 45 days to clear way for the implementations of the peace Accord. Are they willing to leave or with some reservations?. When the foreign forces leave the next step is repatriation of all IDPS to their original villages and states. IOM should not make the same mistake they did by transporting the Dinkas to Nimule from Kakuma and now from Ajumani and Kiryadongo in Uganda to Nimule. If this is not done properly then the transitional government will be seating on a time bomb. IDPS is a serious matter that must be taken seriously as it is one of the route causes of the insecurity and unrest in the country. Riek Machar you brought the Dinka Bor in Nimule during the 1990s Bor massacre transport them back to where they belong. This is a litmus test paper for the reforms that is expected of you.

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