REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN
JIENG COUNCIL OF ELDERS – JUBA
Saturday March 28th, 2015
JIENG COUNCIL OF ELDERS REJECTS IMPOSITION OF PEACE ON SOUTH SUDAN: A CLEAR MESSAGE TO THE POTENTIAL PERPETRATORS OF SOUTH SUDAN DESTRUCTION
TO: THE CHAIRMAN OF IGAD, CHAIRMAN OF AU COMMISSION, EU, UN SG, TRIOKA COUNTRIES (NORWAY, UK & US), CHINA & RUSSIA
CC: THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN
April 1, 2015 (SSB) —- The Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders wishes to inform the South Sudanese citizens and the whole world of an ominous cloud that has been gathering momentum regionally and internationally to destabilize South Sudan. The scheme was initially masked by the pretentious actions of a few neighbors who presented themselves as concerned friends of South Sudanese whose mission was informed by humanitarian need to help the Republic of South Sudan out of the ongoing situation. This thin veil of pretentious posturing is slowly being lifted and the real faces of the conspirators are beginning to emerge. The ongoing unpredictable behavior of Kenya near our eastern borders is a case in point.
The real intention of the international community, which has been quite critical of the government since the commencement of the ongoing crisis, has now been unmasked by the recently leaked AU Commission’s report with its damning recommendations on South Sudan situation. As much as they would want to officially deny it, this report has once and for all laid bare what the regional and international actors have been hatching covertly against South Sudan. It is unequivocally clear that the world is hell bent on thwarting the South Sudanese aspiration to be a free, and sovereign people.
If one takes a disinterested look at the leaked AU’s commission report, it is not difficult to come to a sad conclusion that what has been obstructing peace since the government unilaterally called upon the rebels to sit down and resolve their differences as brothers and sisters is not necessarily the intransigence of the warring parties, as we have continuously been made to believe, but the interference of external forces, which, like the rebels, want to see an elected president removed illegally. This clandestine plan to thwart the progress of our nascent democracy by illegally removing an elected President is coupled with an even more sinister motive that seeks to destroy the historical legacy of our people’s movement, the SPLM, its achievements, and the whole literature of our liberation struggle.
It appears now that South Sudan is locked in weird whirlwinds of intersecting regional and international interests that are divergent, yet unified on one thing – the destabilization of South Sudan and the need to dismantle the existing government. This may appear to some as being alarmists, but the truth is that there is enough evidence to suggest that the plans to revoke South Sudan’s sovereignty and make it ungovernable are now complete and set. Three main reasons support this conclusion: (1) The leaked African Union Commission Report, (2) The behavior, speeches, and actions of some regional and international actors, and (3) The recently leaked IGAD Plan of Action.
II. The Leaked AU’s report and its recommendations
The recommendations of the leaked AU commission report clearly show that the Troika countries are unanimous in their view that President Kiir and his government can no longer lead the country. Hence, the South Sudan’s problems can no longer be negotiated and settled through a peace agreement. According to Hilde Johnson, former Special Representative of Secretary-General in South Sudan, UNMISS, the whole system “needs a reboot”, as one would intentionally crash a stalled computer ostensibly to restart it afresh. In political lingo, however, ‘Rebooting’ the system means dismantling the existing institutions of governance and restarting them from scratch. The only problem now is what they called “a central conundrum”, which is that the Jieng and Nuer nationalities would not accept any actions that negate their hard won independence.
Sadly enough, the African Union Commission of Inquiry, which was tasked to investigate human rights violations and the causes of the conflict bought into this thinking, taking a cue primarily from the Troika countries and the UN Secretary-General Representative to South Sudan. The AU Commission pulled out a common hackneyed mantra called, “an African problem needs an African solution”, essentially accusing supposedly naïve western counterparts for the inadequacy of their understanding of complex and intricate African problems. To the Commission, the problem of the Troika members and other western allies is that they lack social context, which is something they believe is necessary as it allows the actors in taking stock of historical, political, economic, social and moral spheres related to a peculiar African problem before one ponders on how to resolve it.
What seems to inform this line of thinking is the thought that South Sudan was going to precipitously fall and so it will be up for grabs. The AU Commission seems decided to prevent the Troika and UN from picking up the pieces as the two are unqualified and so the more qualified regional body, the AU should take South Sudan’s sovereignty to the Union’s custody. Fortunately, South Sudan still has a government and its sovereignty remains with its people.
To arrive at an African solution in South Sudan, in the thought of AU Commissioners, one must isolate the so-called planners of the political violence from their constituencies. One of the ways in which such sequestration could be effected is the creation of Transitional Government that excludes those that are considered politically accountable for the crisis. The reasoning is that South Sudanese have lost their sovereignty because of the violence. Therefore, the AU Commission proposed a transitional period with three distinctive features: (1) A High Level Oversight panel (non- South Sudanese) to guide the period of transition, (2) A transitional government that excludes those politically accountable for the crisis, and (3) A transitional program that addresses the question of justice in different forms.
Since South Sudanese sovereignty will be housed at the continental Headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Oversight Panel shall be answerable to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and its members to be appointed directly by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, mandated by and shall report to both the AU and the UN Security Council. The panel would be made up of three persons; finance expert, security expert and an expert in statecraft all under a permanent Chairperson. The assumption here is that South Sudan has been mismanaged in three areas – the finance, the military and South Sudanese are clueless about governance.
These plans could not come into effect unless there is an absolute silence of guns. In their view, the best way to put the conflict to an end is to engender in an interim transitional period for five years, led by a Transitional Executive. Members of the Transitional Executive shall be South Sudanese. Thereafter, a collegial presidency drawn from three broad geographical constituencies of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria, and Upper Nile regions and shall be chosen through a process overseen by the High Level Oversight Panel, which shall be instituted through a three-step process: (1) There shall be broad consultation, leading to nominations by different sectors of society in a process designed to identify “persons of consensus”, (2) Vetting by a reconvened all-South Sudan Political Parties Convention expanded to include representatives of civil society, churches and chiefs, (3) Ratification by parliament.
The said Executive Council shall constitute the cabinet and shall be appointed by the Collegial Presidency in consultation with the Parliament and the High Level Oversight Panel. The Commission recommends that anyone who was in the cabinet in the past before the dissolution of government in 2013 shall be excluded from any government.
The Commission seemingly suggests the dissolution of all government institutions, except for the parliament. The reason for the dissolution of these institutions is not given. It is not clear how the formation of the Transitional Executive would actually end the conflict. There are a number of undeclared assumptions underpinning some of these recommendations. Perhaps, one of the assumptions is that the people of South Sudan are so fed up with the government and so they will sit and watch it being dismantled and taken over by neocolonial usurpers.
Another assumption is the idea that there is no national army and so no person would put up a resistance to an African Union takeover. Notwithstanding the condescending nature of such assumptions, they are dangerously wrong. Any person who underestimates the will of liberators to defend the price of their liberation struggle is simply toying around with fire. What is not also so clear is what this transitional executive, serving under the African Union would actually do for the people of South Sudan. The Commission recommends three sketchy tasks of the said Transitional Executive as: (1) Political justice through state reform. In the view of the commission, the key to the pursuit of the political justice in the transitional period is the exclusion from high office of all those held politically accountable for the mass violence. The political justice would be achieved through a two-pronged process of demilitarization and democratization, (2) Resettlement of refugees and IDPs as well as (3) Criminal Justice.
Regarding the Security Sector reform, the Commission recommends the establishment of an African Oversight Force, comprised of troops from African countries beyond the surrounding region. The said force would operate under the AU command, but under UNMISS and thereafter, the High Level Oversight Panel shall appoint a joint African/South Sudanese Military Commission, whose members are to be drawn from senior military persons from both the South Sudan and other African countries and whose mandate is to draw up a program to build the capacity, screen, reduce, reorganize and “where necessary”, retain the forces that currently exist under the umbrella of the SPLA. The Commission holds the view that the army should be diversified like the parliament through democratization process at the local level.
The Commission’s view is informed as alluded to in the previous section by the assumption that there is truly no national army and that South Sudanese are of course assumed to be incompetent and so the African Oversight Force with the help of some handpicked military personnel from South Sudan and other African countries shall form and run the army. This of course would complete the destruction phase of the liberation history and the re-writing of the history will begin from there.
The most glaring question here is how the AU Oversight Panel and the Oversight Force are going to be financed. The Commission certainly believes that South Sudanese oil and mineral resources should fund AU operations. To this effect, the Commission recommends that the African Development Bank, in coordination with the World Bank and the International Monitoring Fund, establish an active and continuous oversight over all key public financial institutions in South Sudan.
The Commission further recommends that all oil proceeds be placed in an escrow account under the oversight of this joint committee, and that these funds be used to finance both the recurrent expense of government and administration, and the funding of the triple transitional mandate, including the cost of the African Peace-keeping Force. Therefore, South Sudanese are not only going to be robbed of their sovereignty, independence, and the erosion of their liberation history, but their resources are up for grabs and plunder by the continental body and its cohorts.
What is evident from the foregoing summary of the recommendations of the Commission is the revocation of South Sudan’s sovereignty, which shall be placed under a fuzzy leadership of the African Union and the UN. The Commission does not acknowledge the existence of an elected government and failed to make reference to our historic and collective decision to self-determination. It is not clear how the AU and its three- person panel would handle resistance that will surely be erected against their doomed ploy to take over our country. This proposal is of course similar to placing the country under UN Trusteeship; the only difference is the vocabulary. The world should know that South Sudan’s sovereignty and its independence are irrevocable and that those who will try this shall meet the rage of men and women who liberated this country.
When these recommendations are read together with the UN resolution 2206/2015 on the imposition of sanctions on individuals deemed to be obstructing the peace, it is clear that the international community is decided that South Sudanese crisis needs no diplomacy but coercive measures. Obstruction of peace is of course an obscure abstract whose meaning is only fully understood by those imposing sanctions. In our view, imposition of sanctions and laying hurdles in the way of negotiations are the clear definitions of obstruction of peace process.
III. The Troika and IGAD hands in the peace process
The reviewed clandestine actions of AU Commission of Inquiry and its sponsors shed more light on the recent statement by John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, on March 2, 2015 in which he questioned the legitimacy of the government and that of the President of the Republic of South Sudan when he said, “Legitimacy is not a presumed right of any government. It is conferred by the people, and it is sustained only by demonstrating leadership to protect and serve all citizens – responsibilities the government has neglected”.
This statement stands in sharp contrast with Secretary Kerry’s statement on May 2, 2014 here in Juba when he declared that there should be “no moral equivalence between an elected president and a rebel leader”. What informed the change of the Secretary’s position? How much worse has South Sudan government done since the last time Mr. Kerry was here? This position has to be read together with President Obama’s speech that addressed the people of South Sudan directly, bypassing the South Sudanese leadership, a direct violation of diplomatic etiquettes, but is part of the scheme to try to undermine the country’s leadership.
This is where the Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia picked up his cue in his inflammatory speech on March 5th, 2015 where he directly incited the people of South Sudan to rise up against their leaders, who, according to him, have abdicated their responsibilities. This is the man who is the head of IGAD, the body that is mediating peace. How do you mediate between two leaders for whom you hold no respect? It should be obvious that when a mediator despises its own clients, it goes without saying that the mission would certainly fail and so the causes of the failure of the IGAD-led peace talks should be sought within the premises of IGAD.
All these conspiracies are converging in the so-called IGAD-Plus peace initiative. The leaked IGAD action plan shows clearly that the peace process is no longer a South Sudanese affair, but it will be a hijacked peace process in which many in the international community are going to hold their sticks high on the heads of the warring parties. Should the two leaders fail to sign an agreement they did not negotiate, this will be used as a pretext for the invasion of South Sudan and the implementation of the African Union recommendations.
IV. Misunderstanding of the current unrest as a Nuer – Jieng war
The question that sorely begs asking is: Why is the international community trying to destroy South Sudan? We the members of the Council, based on our extensive analysis of the prevailing international opinion, are convinced that the international community’s opinion is ill- advised and misinformed. The international actors seem to have succeeded in painting the current conflict as a war between the Jieng and Nuer. This is a terrible superficial understanding of a conflict that is complex and historically deep-rooted. The war that is raging in South Sudan has its roots in the internal intrigues of the SPLM party; it has nothing to do with Jieng and Nuer, however much of it is misconstrued internationally and regionally. The Nuer and Jieng are societies with historical and politicalties. These societies harbor no genocidal intents toward each other. Between these two communities, people have been taken and given through inter-tribal marriages; there are intricate webs of relations between these two communities that cannot easily be thrown into the dustbin of political paranoia.
Although it is erroneously being spread that in the midst of this conflict the Jieng are out to ethnically cleanse the Nuer, the facts on the ground speak to the contrary. This is a terrible propaganda that demands disapproval. For instance, presently, the displaced Nuer civilians are taking refuge in the two Jieng dominated States of Warrap, Lakes, and even in Jonglei state were the Jieng are also a sizable majority. The Jieng civil populations in these three states have received the Nuer IDPs with open arms. There have been no incidences in which these Nuer IDPs were lynched by their host communities.
Also, the Nuer who have not bought into Riek Machar’s political ideology continue to serve in the government, which is erroneously being portrayed as a Jieng Government. These Nuer nationalists are exerting powerful influences to bring back peace to the country. If there is a war between the Jieng and Nuer, and if the present government is a Jieng government as it is being alleged, why then are these Nuer politicians partaking in the alleged genocide against their kin and kith?
It should therefore be admitted that what the Republic of South Sudan is dealing with is a sad political unrest, which stemmed from a failed coup attempt by Dr. Riek Machar and cohorts. This group of disgruntled politicians sought to usurp people’s power militarily. A similar situation happened in 1991 when Riek Machar’s coup against Dr. John Garang polarized the two communities of Nuer and Jieng. Eventually, these communities managed to contextualize the conflict and were able to reconcile. These grassroots efforts eventually culminated in the return of Riek into the SPLM in 2002.
In order to attain a just and lasting resolution to the present war, the international mediators need to give the people of South Sudan a chance to work out a solution, starting from the grassroots levels all the way to the national levels. In fact, similar efforts are being exerted at the grassroots levels. Currently, there are ongoing community dialogues between the Jieng (Dinka) Council of Elders and the Nuer elders. There are also talks going on between the Jieng and other South Sudanese communities to find ways in which a common alliance of progress could be forged. We believe that these dialogues will eventually culminate in a homegrown solution to the current crisis.
We are also confident that the leaders will eventually listen to the voices of reason originating from these community dialogues. We believe without any shred of doubt that it is through these grassroots efforts that this conflict could be amicably ended. Also, the government is committed to dialogue with the rebels and other dissidents unconditionally. Given a chance, these efforts will bring about a peaceful resolution to the current conflict, and the suffering of our citizens will be alleviated. However, these efforts are being blatantly ignored by the regional and international actors who are trying to push for their agenda, which is now beginning to emerge as an attempt to obstruct the peace process to justify the forceful takeover of South Sudan.
V. The Council’s vehement opposition to re-colonization of South Sudan
Given this situation, we would like to alert the world of the inherent complications that will be engendered by this planned invasion of our country. Our country is very fragile, socially, economically, and politically. The long bouts of the relentless civil wars that our people have gone through have shaken our country to the core. Any disturbance in the present setup will drastically send our country, and by extension the region, spinning dangerously into the abyss.
Despite the prevailing rhetoric in the international circles that this external intervention will bring the ongoing conflict to an expeditious end, the fact of the matter is that the current situation will be worsened by this external meddling. Given the tribal nature of the current insurgencies, armed and unarmed dissidents, it is conceivable that these groups will be emboldened by their newly found power, as they will definitely attack other tribes. This will encourage an arm race among various tribes, as every tribe will be trying to acquire means of self-defense. What will then invariably ensue is a complicated web of tribal warfare at a scale never before witnessed in the history of South Sudan. This will send our population fleeing to foreign countries to seek refuge in the refugee camps where they will reside in sub- human conditions.
Not only that, the governance vacuum that will be created will encourage non-state actors such as terrorists’ organizations to establish training camps where they will launch their campaigns against the free world. The neighboring countries may also feel bothered by the lawlessness near their borders and may choose to invade parts of South Sudan just to push the chaos away from their borders. It is also conceivable that these neighboring countries may start extracting South Sudan’s vast natural resources illegally.
If this is allowed to happen, the struggle of the martyrs who laid down their lives to free this country would have been wasted; the lives of our citizens would have been plunged into unnecessary risk, the dignity of the South Sudanese and that of the African race in the entire Sudan would have been insulted, and the United Nations, that assembly of free nations, would have abdicated its obligation to serve as the shield for the weak and the preserver of peace. By allowing this to happen, the UN would have instead purveyed an unfathomable violence against one of its members.
Given the pending destruction of our country and our dignity as a people, we would like the world to know that, like any other people in the world, the South Sudanese reserve the right to defend themselves against unjust aggression anywhere and at any time. Our internal contradictions notwithstanding, the world must understand that the South Sudanese will unite in their resistance against any imposed agreement.
It should also be made known to IGAD and the African Union that South Sudan will not become a testing ground for crude and new governance theories and that such attempts will be resisted to the fullest. As for the proposed African Oversight Force, it should be clear to the continental body that such a force could only touch ground in South Sudan only with the government’s permission. Any movement of such force illegally into South Sudan would be an act of war and will be met with a tested resistance. We want peace, but it has to be our homegrown, not a regional or international peace that undermines the sanctity of our sovereignty.
Signed on behalf of Jieng Council of Elders:
1.Justice, Ambrose RinyThiik
2. Hon. Joshua Dau Diu
3. Hon. Aldo Ajou Deng
4. Hon. Deng Dau Deng
5. Hon. Charles Majak Aleer
6. Hon. Parmena Awerial Aluong
The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.