Will the Revitalisation Forum’s Third Session Brings Peace Back to South Sudan?

Posted: May 9, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Arop Madut-Arop, HLRF, Junub Sudan

By Hon Arop Madut Arop, Oxford, UK

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Wednesday, 09 May 2018 (PW) In accordance to the High Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF) envisaged time line (December 2017), the year 2018 would be spent in discussing successfully, two main items: Declaration of Permanent Ceasefire, adoption of the type of governance through which the world youngest nation would be governed till the end of the transitional period. If the second meeting was to resolve these two main items, according to the Revitalisation Forum, a more realistic and acceptable time line would be worked out and signed.

It was also stressed that, if the upcoming second meeting would succeed, the year 2019 would be spent for the repatriation and resettlement of refugees from the neighbouring countries and the return of the Internal Displaced People inside the country back to their homes of origin. The year 2020 would also be spent on the conduct of national consensus. The remaining years; 2021 and 2023, would be for the drawing up of electoral constituencies and the conduct of internationally supervised general elections after which the elected government would assume office in 2023.

Accordingly, the second meeting was convened on February 5. Encouragingly, the parties and the stakeholders agreed virtually on the existence of the 2015 Agreement of the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), which was the object of the Revitalisation process. But as all and sundry were expecting some kind of a revitalised deal during the second meeting in February, things fell apart because the opposition Alliance reportedly, demanded that the incumbent, President General Kiir Mayardit and the leader of SPLM IO, Dr Riek Machar, should be excluded from any transitional government that would be put in place.

Further, the Opposition Alliance demanded the dissolution of the government institutions: National Security, Transitional government and the legislature among others. The new interim structures should instead be put in place to run the country throughout the transitional period.

The members of the Government delegation vehemently rejected the opposition demands; arguing that, the opposition demands were not part of the agenda agreed upon by all the stakeholders, which was to review the August 2015 (ARCSS) peace deal. The members of the government further made it abundantly clear that the opposition alliance demands, if accepted by the Mediators, would presuppose the renegotiation of a new peace deal and therefore unacceptable.

As if to find a common ground to break the deadlock, where the government and the oppositions could compromise, the IGAD led Mediators threw down another bomb shell, when it recommended that; the incumbent President Salva Kiir Mayardit would lead the transitional government and to be assisted by a four presidential deputies, apparently to administer different ministerial clusters.

The IGAD new package, according to the government delegation; presupposes the abolition of the incumbent transitional national government (TGONU) that was put in place as per August 2015, ARCSS deal; where the incumbent head of the government and state is assisted by a first vice president and a vice president. The IGAD Revitalisation Forum’s proposition was rejected by the government delegation. All further efforts presented by various civil societies, on the top South Sudanese faith based appeal, could not bring the desired compromise.

When, after a two week discussion (February 5th -16th 2018), and the warring parties failed to reach a compromise, the IGAD led HLRF Mediators were left with no alternative but adjourned the meeting to reconvene on the date to be decided upon by the IGAD in consultation with the parties. If the HLRF third session, were to reconvene, two fundamental issues will also be on the negotiation table for substantive discussion.

Expectedly, the transitional government (TGONU) would maintain its position by inviting the opposition parties; both the armed and unarmed groups, to join the government. This would mean that, the incumbent National Transitional Government and the Transitional Legislature would be expanded.

The opposition groups on the other hand, may hold to their previous position in which they demanded that the incumbent president Salva Kiir and the SPLM IO, leader Dr Riek Machar should be excluded from any forthcoming transitional administration. The opposition alliance may further demand for a formation of a neutral administration during the transitional period.

These are the two controversial positions the IGAD led High Level Revitalisation Forum must address adequately if the third session would bring peace back to the war ravaged country.

It is in this regard that the IGAD foreign misters have been shuttling between Juba and Addis Ababa to make further consultation with all the stakeholders in effort to strike a compromise. If the IGAD foreign ministers could manage to bridge the wide divergent positions of the parties, the third IGAD led Revitalisation Forum may reconvene before the end of May or earlier June 2018 in order to make more attempts to conclude a peace deal.

It is against this background that, those who would like to help the young republic to come out of its predicament must avoid imposing solutions on its people. Rather, the Mediators should advisably devise feasible compromise which could take the country forward toward sustainable peace and prosperity. It will also be instructive for the international community to assist the current Revitalisation Forum efforts to negotiate a permanent ceasefire first, and to confirm the HLRF proposed HLRF timeline or draw up an acceptable time line.

According to the public opinion, the on-going mediation efforts between the two parties should be encouraged to proceed on, no matter as to how long it would take to reach acceptable endurable peace.  Advisably IGAD should by all means try to avoid a repeat of the 2015 experience when peace package was imposed on the parties and which as we all know did not work as expected. Hence, all are now back to square one, the current efforts that are being made to revitalise that bad peace.

Further, it would be instructive to stress that, it is the concern of the silent majority of citizens of this young nation, the republic of South Sudan, that the international community, at the forefront the Troika countries in which US is an effective lead member, should contribute positively through the known conflict resolution mechanisms but not through coercion on South Sudan warring parties.

In other words the US and other members of the Troika in effort to bring pressure to bear on the South Sudanese warring parties should use both sticks and more importantly carrots effectively and address their grievances through democratic process instead of through the barrel of the gun.

On the question repeatedly raised by majority of South Sudanese, whether the third HLRF meeting will salvage the situation in South Sudan; the answer to the above questions is yes and no. If the IGAD led Forum were to find a common ground, by convincing the warring parties to stick to the revitalisation of the conflict and chart out a realistic time line, the answer would be a Big Yes.

This would presuppose that all have accepted the existence of the ARCSS as the basis for reviewing, revitalising, resuscitating or revising it. But if on the other hand, the warring parties hold to their previous positions that they held during the February 5th -16th 2018 conference which led to the failure of the second HLRF meeting, the answer is a Big No. Consequently, there will be no peace deal and the situation may drag on endlessly while thousands of innocent civilians continue dying or living in squalid conditions.

However, the current efforts to successfully reunify the fractured SPLM factions, in order to resume its historic role as a ruling party, has given guided hope that, the third session of the IGAD led Revitalisation Forum may succeed to restore peace and stability back to the country.

Advisably, if peace was to descend by the Will of Allah today, it will be necessary for all South Sudan political leaders both the old and the new, to reflect and rethink of how best they could win the forthcoming democratic elections and to come to power at the end of the transitional period. As we all know, many existing political parties in the South Sudan, just sprang up hurriedly soon after independence, apparently, in protest against what they called SPLM ruling party exclusives policies.

It is therefore high time for them to reorganise their parties ideologically and politically in order to win support of electable cadres rather than the previous recruitment of cadres at random. In order to bring the point home I would like to give, as a reminder, one classic example, the fall of President Jaafer Mohamed Nimeiri of Sudan (1969-1985) and its impact on the political leaders that were long barred from practical politics and who were then vying to come to power. Please bear with me.

Once the May Regime which had been in power for nearly two decades was overthrown by a combined popular uprising and military, in 1985, Sudanese of all political persuasions, began, in earnest and formed numerous political parties, now that democracy has been restored. After the end of the transitional period in 1986, when democratic general elections were about to be held, forty political parties had sprung up and were ready to take part in the general elections, scheduled for April of that year.

Unfortunately, when the results of the 1986 elections were announced in June, there were ten parties, out of a total of forty parties that contested; won elections- four national parties in the North and six regional parties in the Southern Region. Seen from this classic example it becomes crystal clear that forming a political party does not necessarily bring that party to power.

Finally, I would like to remind South Sudanese politicians that they must avoid the Sudanese bitter experiences. They should also avoid further political disenchantment and wrangling, as this can bring ruins to the country as a whole. The political disenchantment in the SPLM which resulted in horrific, senseless loss of lives, unnecessary destruction of their country and untold sufferings and hardships it brought to bear on our people should always remain a good reminder to us the contemporaries to these sad events and to our generations ahead.

Hon Arop Madut Arop, currently an MP for Abyei at SSLA and an international media consultant, holds a Diploma in Socialist journalism – International institute of journalism (East Berlin); Advanced Diploma in Liberal Journalism International Institute of Media Studies (West Berlin) and Masters of Arts Degree in International Journalism (City University of London). He is the author of two books: Sudan Painful Road to Peace, a full story of the founding and development of SPLM/SPLA (2006) and The Genesis of political consciousness in South Sudan (2012). He is also author of a number of unpublished books. He can be reached at gotnyiel122@hotmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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