What does the dissolution of SPLM-IO Taban mean for peace and war in South Sudan?

Posted: May 13, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

Salva Kiir scores a big win, but will it last?

By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, Juba, South Sudan

Taban Deng in YUAI

Taban Deng Ghai with top army officers of the SPLM-IO in Yuai, Greater Akobo area, January 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018 (PW) — The dissolution of the SPLM-IO (Taban’s faction) and it’s reunification with the SPLM under Kiir is a big win for the President. The move has lessened the likelihood of a reunification between Taban’s faction and that of Dr. Machar. For the SPLM-IG, this is good.

-Implementation Matrix

It is reported that the just concluded SPLM-NLC meeting endorsed a revised Arusha Reunification implementation matrix, however, no further details on what that matrix entails have been made available.

Another resolution called on the NLC members who are outside the country and did not attend the meeting in Juba to attend the next convention, scheduled to take place within 45 days.

The fact remains that it will be particularly difficult to conclude within 45 days (as of May 4th) a genuine reunification in line with the Arusha 2014 agreement.

The SPLM-IO under Machar said they do not recognize the Juba meeting, calling it “a farce… a sham.”

Above all, there’s still a mounting uncertainty over the success of ARCSS HLRF which is key to peace and in turn, a conducive environment for reunification and all other activities.

-What will happen?

In a meeting in Pagak in January 2016, the SPLM-IO under Machar resolved to form a new political party, accusing Kiir of being against the reunification of the SPLM. The reasons they cited included “…the decision by the SPLM in government to hold an extraordinary convention and registration of SPLM in South Sudan without two other factions…”

Well, it is reasonable to conclude that the SPLM-IO under Machar will register their own party if there will be no breakthrough on SPLM reunification based on the Arusha Agreement or if they later disagree during party nominations.

-The possibility of a Kiir-Machar reunion

In a very surprising turn, President Kiir announced that he has “forgiven” Dr. Machar, urging that the latter should return to Juba. Kiir said he or the RPF will guarantee Machar’s safety.

The coalition of Opposition groups (SSOA) has been calling for both Kiir and Machar to be excluded from the next transitional unity government.

This new tone from Kiir may be the result of those calls and perhaps he and Machar will start to realize what they have in common and possibly reunite again. It may not happen through the SPLM reunification but maybe someday towards the end of ARCSS when elections are close. This may be done in the name of building bridges and uniting the country. It is possible though very unlikely.

-The usual defections

Once the HLRF succeeds in revitalizing ARCSS and creating a new and conducive political environment, there will be several defections and re-defections among the different political camps for different reasons. Some will be just for the fun of it.

Some of Taban’s loyalists will return to SPLM-IO under Machar, while others, out of shame, will choose to join the other political groups or simply remain under Kiir.

The SPLM-IO might welcome Taban back for you never know they might need him to testify against allegations that IO attempted a coup in 2016.

Welcoming Taban into the SPLM-IO and giving him a senior position will spark outrage from those who remained loyal to Machar. While without a senior position, he will less likely return.

-Between Wani and Taban who will carry the day?

As per the HLRF proposal, the government has been given only one Vice President position in the next transitional government of national unity. It looks like Wani will take the position, perhaps for sometimes, and thereafter he will be replaced by Taban or another Equatorian or someone from Upper Nile, depending on the politics of that time.

Whereas, if the SPLM factions proceed with reunification without Machar’s SPLM-IO, Taban may be made Deputy Chairman or First Deputy Chairman, subject to the discretion of SPLM-IG.

As for the FDs, they are very unpredictable because up to now their politics depend on the actions/inactions of others. Their split remains imminent though.

All these divisions within a movement/people once determined to unseat Kiir are somewhat good for the President, but for how long? The next few weeks will offer a clearer picture.

-Will an all-inclusive SPLM reunification happen?

Well, an all-inclusive SPLM reunification based on the stipulations of the Arusha 2014 Agreement may happen depending on two things:

1- If ARCSS HLRF bears positive results within a short period from now.

2- If there will be an intervention from the co-guarantors of the Reunification Agreement: Tanzania’s CCM and South Africa’s ANC to save the pact.

-Taban’s Position

The government may propose to the HLRF some amendments to the current proposal of the mediators, to restructure the presidency and create a Prime Ministerial Position with two or more deputies. If that succeeds, Taban will likely get a position in the next TGoNU either in the Presidency or as a deputy prime minister, depending on the SPLM-

IG’s decision.

It is indeed true that Taban appears as a threat even to Kiir’s seat. However, the SPLM-IG will continue maintaining him in senior positions to help them in their competition with Machar’s SPLM-IO.

At the same time, they will make Taban less powerless and less a threat to them through the integration of his forces into the government’s side.

When they are done with him, they will possibly replace him with Amb. Lol Gatkuoth or likely Dr. Joseph Monytuil, etc.

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