BY: Koul Bol Deng, JUBA, APR/19/2013, SSN;
In this article, I would like to emphasize the title “Tribal war in South Sudan is unavoidable” and justify why war is unavoidable in South Sudan. I’m not being partial in this article favouring the government or those who oppose the regime, but will just explain the facts as an intellectual South Sudanese. I won’t go beyond the context of the intellectual debate initiated in this paper.
First, since the autonomy started back in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) up to this point in time, there hasn’t been any tangible change in government’s policies towards development. The rate of corruption is very high and is being practiced by government’s officials who seem to have impunity and are not accountable for any civil or criminal misconduct.
In order to mitigate the situation, the president announced the issuing (secretly) of official letters to nearly 76 South Sudanese most of them were reported to have been government’s officials. However, up to now there has never been any action taken by the president or the Anti-Corruption Commission.
This was in relation to the 4 billion that got wasted and no accountability has been pursued.
Millions of South Sudanese are dying of hunger, lack of services such as health, education, roads, sanitation, electricity and clean drinking water. Comparing the current regime with Addis Ababa Agreement 1972, the institutions that the government are operating under now, were established during the regional government led by Moulana Abel Alier and later by General Joseph Lago. We are very fortunate that both of them are still alive.
The ministerial compound that currently represents most of the ministries in South Sudan was built during that agreement as well as the University of Juba, some schools and the current hospital.
So the question is, what has the government done with all these millions and no reflection of these monies in development? What is the future of South Sudanese innocent people who have fought the war of liberation?
The second case was the Dura saga where millions of dollars were lost without any accountability.
Third, was the amount of money being given to South Sudan for repatriation of South Sudanese who have been dispersed by the civil war, again these monies have gone to individual pockets.
Fourth, the large sum of money being donated by the Western countries to reform the party (SPLA/M). These monies also got lost and nobody can explain what has been done with the money.
The President, on his being sworn in day one, had declared a zero tolerance but this has never been substantiated. Instead the rate of corruption is growing rampantly and to the highest level.
Fifth, the transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2005 that mandated the president absolute powers, which has been also ratified by the parliament is also among the causes of the problems in South Sudan because the parliament has no say in whatever the president will say, even to the extent that the president is omnipotent and could ignore the parliamentary legislations and work according to his personal convictions.
Here the rule of law has no significant presence since the president is above the law. To be constructive in my argument, the president have gone to the level of dismissing elected governors which had never happened in the history of democracy if we claim to be embracing democratic principles based on what we fought for, justice, equality and freedom for all.
These kinds of situations happen only when the governor breaches certain laws that could jeopardize his position by law and subject to parliamentary agreement.
The point number seven, is the political wrangling within the SPLA/M represented in the political bureau, senior members, the President and his Vice.
Current developments have revealed the president’s withdrawal of certain powers that have been delegated to the Vice and the reason behind that has been alluded to in both the media and public the Vice President’s intention to contest in the next election 2015.
There could have been better way for the President to withdraw these powers since these are administrative powers related to the executive. These included the National Reconciliation Project which has been cancelled being described as a political project which the president has never been cognisant about.
In the real world, such significant national projects cannot be done without the knowledge of the president. Reconciliation is a sensitive project because it involves most of the issues that people need to talk about after war, reconciliation between tribes, individuals and South-North reconciliation.
The election in 2015 might instigate tribal war in South Sudan if not handled with care. The reason behind this is the tribal wrangling between the main tribes, the Dinka and Nuer and the other tribes that have also been marginalized.
The fight between the Vice and the president has been silent but now becomes clear after the president has declared withdrawal of powers from his Vice.
The SPLA/M Political Bureau is dominated by the president’s supporters, and therefore if the SPLA/M nominee or the candidate for 2015 election is selected by the party, definitely President Kiir will get the majority. However, among the ordinary party’s members both (the president and the vice) will get numbers and will sometimes depend on loyalty and tribe.
The president has got absolute powers to dismiss the Vice from position, the government and the party as well.
What happened last week from the president was a test to see how important is the Vice both in the public and the SPLA/M. If the reaction of the people was against the decree, then there would be an alternative plan in the near future as long as the president and his supporters in the SPLA/M and some ordinary citizens are determined not to allow the Vice to hold the top position based on some tribal and personal grounds.
The president is now in power and has got the support of thousands of South Sudanese people, some based on material gain or tribe. The same with the Vice, there are also tribal groups supporting Machar from Nuer sections based on his tribe and those who support him based on personal interest.
Scenario One: the president might issue a decree dismissing his Vice from both positions. That way the Vice will form a political party that competes with SPLA/M and will get majority from the Geater Upper Nile, Equatoria and the minority marginalized tribes in Western Bhar El Gazal. SPLA/M will still have many supporters from different tribes including some Nuer.
That way if the election law and the constitution are passed in 2014, there is a possibility that if the president wins the election, Machar supporters specially from Nuer and other groups will instigate violence and this will divide the army based on tribes.
The same scenario is applicable to Salva in both cases either by genuinely winning the election or rigging it since he is in the power position.
Scenario Two: Riek might get the majority among the citizens of South Sudan especially in Upper Nile and Equatoria plus some areas in Bhar El Gazal. That way if he wins the election SPLA/M will deny him the presidency. His supporters will invoke violence that will turn into tribal war.
Scenario Three: the president might cancel the party’s convention which is supposed to be in May 2013 and the election in 2015 by a presidential decree as usual. In this situation tribal war or a military coup based on tribes will take place.
Scenario Four: if SPLA/M convinced Salva that he is not popular in South Sudan in 2015 election and that the party needs to seek a candidate, what are the outcomes?
First, to be a candidate for such an election you need to be getting support overwhelmingly across all South Sudanese States. It is not a matter of endorsement of a candidate by the party that gives that candidate the right to win the majority. These are two different things and might confuse people.
The candidate might fail or win but still will cause violence.
However, among the party’s senior members that are known overwhelmingly in South Sudan are Pagan Amum, Deng Alor, Luka Biong, Kuol Manyang, John Luk, Taban Deng, Wani Igga, Nhial Deng and James Hoth. Who could be the right candidate to represent the party in 2015 election if the president agreed not to contest?
Among these people, for example, if we select Mr Pagan Amum to contest with Riek Machar whether Riek is an independent candidate or representing a party, there are still difficulties in terms of numbers. Pagan is popular in the party but not among the citizens of South Sudan and he’s being alleged to be part of the corruption and therefore the possibility of winning the election is weak.
If we select Wani Igga, he is not very popular in the other states but only in Equatoria, a support that might not win the majority of the constituencies. Therefore, it is a risky choice for the party. But if he contests with Machar with a Dinka deputy from Bahr El Gazal there is a possibility to win but still Riek has a ground both in the Upper Nile, Bentiu and Equatoria.
Again, if Wani wins the election, Machar’s supporters won’t accept the outcome and might claim that the election is being rigged. Violence will take place and war might happen.
Nhial Deng could have been a better candidate in 2015 but the problem of generalization among the South Sudanese plus tribalism may affect his numbers. Moreover, he is from Bahr El Gazal and might be generalized by the ordinary citizens from other states as the same with Salva.
He is an open-minded person, civilized and not tribalist given his background. Grown up in Khartoum, studied in Khartoum from primary education to the university. Could have been accepted among the Southerners to some degree if not because of tribalism and current corruption practices by Kiir’s regime.
Deng Alor, very well known in the SPLA/M and in Bahr El Gazal and Equatoria. But will that guarantee the presidency if contested in 2015’s election? If he is contesting with Machar, it will be difficult for him to win the majority of votes in the Greater Upper Nile and Equatoria.
Equatoria will be the determinant factor. But will the majority in Equatoria vote for him though the issue of generalization will affect his numbers, being from the Dinka Bahr El Gazal and deeply alleged to be involved in the financial corruption. But again if he wins the election, war is unavoidable based on tribalism.
The fact is that in any political system there are factors of degeneration. In the case of SPLA/M these factors are tribalism, clique and elitism that serve interests of few groups enriching themselves with the public funds.
The party has got no vision at the moment and the only way to get out of that situation is to start the reforms right now by changing some of the policies in the party that would allow transformation into a modern political party, fighting corruption and winning the majority of South Sudanese.
Unlike modern political parties, SPLM/A is not yet reformed, most of the policies still dated back to the movement.
Now it becomes clear that the power struggle in the party is between individuals seeking their own interests, whether tribal or material not the national interest of the innocent South Sudanese.
It will be difficult for the ordinary citizens of South Sudan to differentiate between SPLA/M, their tribes and who will serve their interest given the lack of liberal education and political orientation among the majority.
After the tribal war, the real peace will come and all citizens of South Sudan will treat themselves equally based on the rule of law. Like what happened in Rwanda, genocide is not a good option but it gave an opportunity for democracy to prevail because each tribe will recognize the other and will remember that bad past and the need for a better future for the next generation.
The military, likely SPLA/M figure will take over and the United Nations will monitor the situation after 2015. A transitional period will be initiated to prepare for democracy and a new constitution will be drafted. New parties will emerged or the old ones will be revived and work with SPLA/M.
The SPLA/M will still have large numbers but not a guarantee to win the election in a fair competition after 2015. After 2015 the SPLA/M needs to be very careful because its domination of the political arena after the war might invoke political unrest in the country, not another tribal war.
The oil revenues do not reflect on the lives of the ordinary citizens and therefore poverty and ignorance will continue. In addition, most of the oil funds will go to individuals.
What is the fate of Salva Kiir and Riek Machar?
Both of them might not survive during the war. They might get killed or politically assassinated. If they are alive, both will be answerable to the International Court – ICC – based on crimes committed against humanity.
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