BY: Dr. Thon Giei Ajak, JUN/18/2015, SSN;
Take it or leave it, literally speaking, is precisely the summary of the IGAD Plus peace proposal for the parties in the South Sudan crisis. Surprisingly, the two chief negotiators of the warring parties have signed up to IGAD plus mediation process. After their signature, the two received the proposal document for consultation with their principals in Juba and Addis (Fagak).
It is understandable that Taban Deng Gai did not say a word on the proposal as his rebels lost most territories in Greater Upper Nile. But for Nhial Deng Nhial to keep silent without showing the world that South Sudan is a sovereign nation and that its territory now and previously is under the control of the Mighty SPLA and if it were not the rainy season, the government army would have shouted “ SPLA Oyee” mouth-fully in Pagak and that South Sudan Government under General Salva Kiir will never entertain calls for dismantling the country.
I say, without Nhial uttering any comments, that in my view speaks volumes on how the peace talks are being managed on the government side.
None of the two government and rebel chief negotiators, have wondered how did the document come out to light? Who was the brain behind the power sharing arrangement? Who was the architect of the document? What criteria did she/he use to put the knife on the throat of South Sudan Nation (the proposed division)?
If the parties to South Sudan crisis agree to the proposed document, then that would be a farewell to a country called as South Sudan effective from 9 July 2011.
What is good in dividing South Sudan into Greater Upper Nile under the murderous Riek Machar rebels who has slaughtered civilians on ethnic grounds where they operate militarily, and South Sudan under executive president Kiir administration of Greater Bahr-El Ghazal and Equatoria?
What peace would be realized in South Sudan particularly in greater Upper Nile if the SPLA is to pull out from the region, and Oil facilities and the government in the 3 states of Upper Nile to be handed over to the murderous Riek Rebels?
And what would be the position of the opponents to Riek rebels in the states of Upper Nile (Bull Nuer in Unity state, Padang Dinka in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states, Maban ethnic group and Dinka Jonglei (Bor)?
Will the above opponents of Riek rebels leave their lands and resources to Riek rebels, because they will never accept to surrender their fate to the rebels?
Rejected by both the government and rebels and welcomed by Pagan Amum of SPLM-FDs (according to radio Tamazuj), IGAD Plus proposal is going to have far reaching implications for the future of South Sudan being the first step to divide the country on power sharing and resources.
The methodology used in calculating the percentages of 53%, 33% and 14% for the rebels, the government and others in the 3 states of Upper Nile respectively, remains unclear and undisclosed and every South Sudanese has the right to know.
If the calculation of the percentages in power sharing was based on the ethnic make-up of greater Upper Nile in accordance with 2008 census, then IGAD plus team and its South Sudanese informants and bad wishers, have made a fatal and unforgivable mistake as it wrongly assumed that all Nuers and all Shilluk in greater Upper Nile are rebels or support the rebels.
The Bul Nuer and Padang Dinka in Unity state have been a thorn in the throat of the rebels and managed to chase rebels out of South Sudan borders.
In Upper Nile state, Teet-Bai forces in (Baliet, Akoka, Malut, Renk and Maban) have maintained their grounds and given hot pursuit to the rebels; Teet-Bai forces proved to be a heavy shield, kept the rebels away from Upper Nile oil fields and in May 2015, Teet-Bai forces (Abu-Shouk: Shouk, Shouk, Shouk) annihilated the rebels forces in the battle of Peel-Bier in Akoka County.
In Jonglei state, the Eagle forces kept the enemy away from Bor, restored peace to Duk and Oror counties and advanced to capture Akoba County.
So if the government in Juba wants to pull out its forces from greater Upper Nile State as part of IGAD proposal, the inhabitants in greater Upper Nile and who are opposed to the plan of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Riek rebels as evident in the massacres of Bailiet, Parieng, Bentiu, Bor, Malakal, Akok, Malut and Majak of Renk County: I say the opponents of the rebels in Upper Nile will take of the situation under their own control.
The IGAD plus proposal is a two-edged weapon to both the rebels and the government. If the rebels accept the proposal to enjoy the 53% governance in the 3 Upper Nile states as well the oil (the sharing formula to be worked out), it will abandon its allies in Bahr El-Gahazal (Dau Aturjoung and Wau trouble makers) and Equatoria (Afred ladu Gore and Maridi and Mundri trouble makers).
The rebels will therefore, abandon the national agenda and become a regional force to advance its agenda for statehood of the region it controls.
If the rebels reject the proposal, it will be a difficult position having lost territories in Unity State, if not rainy season and the rebellion of Johnson Olony, the government forces would have controlled fagak in Upper Nile, and again if not rainy season, Akoba would have fallen to SPLA forces.
So the rebels are in difficult military situation and have to accept any form of peace to allow them to regroup, retrain, re-arm and re-deploy for future combat missions.
On the other hand, if the government accepts the proposal, it will abandon oil facilities that provide 98% of the revenue, sacrifice greater Upper Nile to the rebels and worse, having set the blue prints for Eguatoria to follow Upper Nile and practical disintegration of South Sudan into 3 independent states.
If the government refuses the proposal, it will appear as if it has rejected peace and opted for war and the IGAD plus machine will move to impose sanctions (targeted or non-targeted) and the threats of referring government officials for International Criminal Court (ICC) for trials of crimes against humanity.
So the IGAD plus proposal is a screw nail for both the rebels and the government and none of them will come out if it clean.
The government negotiating team in Addis Ababa was proportionally imbalanced in terms of representation based on the 3 greater regions (Bhar ElGhazal, Equatoria and Upper). It looks the team did not have enough representation from Greater Upper Nile to reflect the war impacts (death, displacement and claims).
In comparison, the rebels’ representation looks 99% Upper Nile. So the South Sudan Crisis on Addis Ababa negotiating table looks like Upper Nile (rebels) against Equatoria and Bahr ElGhazal (government).
Based on this observation, IGAD Plus came out with that proposal. The government needs to work on representing greater Upper Nile on the peace talks to clarify issues linked to tribal composition and position in making peace.
Lastly, the government needs to conduct popular consultations for the people in greater Upper Nile (in displacement) as to what is their position regarding the proposed peace plan. The government team should not confine consulting itself in Juba and heading back to Ethiopia for talks.
It needs to conduct popular consultations of the people concerned and affected directly by war.
Dr. Thon Giei Ajak, is a concerned South Sudanese and can be reached at email@example.com