The 2015 Peace Accord: A Cocked Gun in the Hands of Reckless Infants

Posted: May 21, 2018 by Emmanuel Ariech Deng in Francis Maluth Telar, HLRF, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Francis Maluth Telar, Juba, South Sudan


Monday, May 21, 2018 (PW) —- After the onset of the war in mid-December, foreign Ministers from the neighboring states under the IGAD bloc started pouring in to Juba on 19 December 2013 to engage both parties for political solution to the conflict before it expands. The initial interventions within Juba yielded less breakthrough other than persuading the parties to move to Addis, chosen as the negotiation venue for political settlement of the war.

In the beginning days, the negotiation was not so complex. It was meant to be between the SPLM-IG and the SPLM-IO. Though Riek had expected them to join his movement, the SPLM-FDs upon release from confinement requested the IGAD so that they would form a thirty party to the talks. Parties sent their delegates with Nhial Deng as the lead negotiator on government side while Taban Deng as the SPLM-IO rapporteur. The first round of talks between the government and the rebels officially began in the first week of January 2014 in the Ethiopian town of Addis.

Parallel to the IGAD mediation was the SPLM party reunification, first tried by the South Africa’s ANC (Africa National Congress) to no avail, but later by the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), Tanzania’s ruling party in January 2014. The CCM efforts toward SPLM tripartite (SPLM-IG, SPLM-IO, SPLM-FDs) unity succeeded on paper but proved less on the implementation matrix until today.

The Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement was imposed by the IGAD on 23 January 2014. This Addis negotiation is one and shall be the last longest peace arbitration involving the South Sudan itself. The peace process was complicated by several factors. Initially the parties to the conflict were very reluctant. Lack of esteemed commitment portrayed by delay tactics and impossible demands by any party almost stalled the progress, if it was not the wave of pressure blowing from the international community and the guarantors.

Then from the surface view by any neutral observer, the IGAD mediators were bifurcated, each at least having a differing national interest in South Sudan. This flawed the ACRSS (Agreement on Conflict Resolution in South Sudan) from negotiations to implementation. The desire to meet the interest of member states therefore constituted a wrestling point as these states recline on the protagonists at the negotiating table. For example, Uganda, because of its contracted military operations, by default had to support the government’s proposals and preconditions at all costs.

Yet again Sudan was tacitly in supply of munitions to Riek’s Rebels. Since Sudan is at direct frontier with the rebels’ bases established mainly in the Upper Nile region, military payloads were stealthily drifted to the SPLA-IOs. Uganda’s mercenaries siding with government was one critical precondition to successful talks raised several times by the SPLM-IO. This first comparison based on military assistance to the warring parties must now be interpreted as Uganda versus Sudan in terms of allegiance at the negotiating Table.

Due to the benefits that will accrue to the host state, Kenya and Ethiopia at first were at loggerheads as to who will host and chair the mediation. Kenya had expected the venue at its capital, Nairobi while the Ethiopian Premier preferred his town of Addis, which eventually got selected.

Other fundamental aspects of participation of Ethiopia and Kenya in South Sudan are vested in the business sector. In the one hand, majority of Ethiopian nationals are by far running hotels, restaurants, domestic water supply using tanked vehicles and to a lesser extent in the aviation flights of its Airlines and on the other, Kenya is embedded in financial sector through its numerous commercial banks, insurance companies, building construction and operational Kenya Airways.

In economic terms the peace delegates on both sides commuting between South Sudan to either capital should be glimpsed as source of revenue to the host through accommodations in hotels and the chartered flights, which Ethiopia is now tapping.  Like Kenya, Uganda is a principal supplier of manufactured goods and food items to South Sudan. It is therefore in their best interest to support and maintain a government they feed through exports of their surplus. That Kenyan and Ugandan females’ citizens operate as sex workers in the capital city should not be ignored, as well as providing laundry services.

One Ugandan beautiful prostitute centered in Jebel Market was quoted as: “my customers are usually government officials that drive vehicles with number plates written ‘GoSS’, and they like ‘going live’ and I overcharged them for that.” Not forgetting that the position of Kenya at first was too dynamical from pro-government to pro-rebels especially in 2014 when Riek was welcomed on a red carpet in Nairobi, a respect equivalent to that of the President.

Furthermore, South Sudan is an oil-producer landlocked country that depends on neighboring Sudan’s marine terminal to export its crude to the world market. Because of the oscillating souring relationship with Sudan, the Government had earlier in 2012 proposed an alternative terminal through Kenya’s port of Lamu, since Sudan was confiscating the South’s oil. This proposed future oil pipeline project became another point of latent battle between Kenya and Ethiopia.

Throughout his regional and international campaign, Riek used oil as a bait to attract support from the would-be interested investors in this sector, with claim that much of the oil reserves in South Sudan is located in his mother state, Unity, let alone the shared hereditary of some Nuers with Ethiopia. In fact Nuer in Gambela are represented in Ethiopian parliament, why not at this time utilizing the opportunity to support Riek, a Nuer who happen to be vying for presidency in South Sudan?

To win the ‘hearts and minds’ of Ethiopians, the SPLM-IO chairman who assumed that oil is by rights his, secretly promised to award the Ethiopia with concessions and other contracts such as the pipeline terminal to pass via its territory, then to Djibouti. This explains why many proposals of the Opposition got backed up by the IGAD chair that then happened to be Ethiopia’s Mesfin.

In the beginning phase Ethiopia had also proposed deployment of a Joint Protection Force (to be dominated by its units and small fraction from Rwanda and Kenya) mandated to oversee the implementation of CoH agreement, protecting civilians and help in Monitoring and Verification Mission. This was hidden attempt to counteract the UPDF.

This lack of mediator neutrality is to have severe consequences at the implementation period, characterized by Juba One (J1) 8-11 July outburst, hence it was a cocked gun placed within the reach of infants. The lack of political will by the dissidents and mediators’ partiality soon polarized the implementation modality. The IGAD communiqué was designed to suit the aims of its individual mediators. The IGAD of 2005 headed by General Lazarus Sumbeiywo, the Kenya Special Envoy, then Chief Negotiator that brokered the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in the towns of Machakos and Naivasha Kenya significantly differs from the 2014 Addis Ababa IGAD led by then Ethiopian Prime Minister Seyoum Mesfin in very many ways.

Whereas the 2005 IGAD had the zeal of ending the North-South rivalry, the 2014 IGAD took a different path of inciting the continuity of the war. The 2015 compromised peace was a trick by the brokers and all the parties with a lot of reservations. Negotiated in Addis Ababa but signed on different days and venues, Juba signing following Addis Ababa signatures, was one such fault of the IGAD. In reality the IGAD mediators directly cocked guns and placed them to closer reach of the two rivals. One clause that proved this argument true is from Chapter two of the peace document quoted as:

“There shall be Strategic Level staffed with Commander in Chief of the GRSS forces and SPLM/A-IO Forces. A Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC) staffed with four Deputy Chiefs of General Staff (two from the GRSS forces and two from SPLM/A-IO) forces. It shall report to the Commanders in Chief of the GRSS Forces and SPLM/AIO forces.”

It is  this clause of poor security arrangement that constituted the practical experiment of bullets firing manifested by July 2016 dog fight between the FVP and the President’s forces in J1, eventually forcing Riek to flee in slippers through the thicket of the Equatorial rainforests in the Congo Basin and subsequent straining of the agreement.

 Like the three days (15, 16, 17, December 2013) Juba was turned to look more than a ghost town again from July 8-11 2016 clashes. Curfews from six to six were the order of the day and people who didn’t have stocked food had to survive on boiled water for three days, if any. It is not virtually possible for two opposing armies to peacefully co-exist in the same State. Even before the signing in August, the disputants were too far from certainty of effective political will to negotiate in good faith, let alone its implementation.

The peace signing was a mere imposition by the bloc and the international partners involved in this conflict resolution. And from experience there is no any North-South or South-South peace talks that had ever ended in success in Addis Ababa. Despite the fact that it survived for ten years, the North-South 1972 Addis Ababa agreement was dishonored by Khartoum in less than a day, and so did the August 2015 South-South peace prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

Several CoH agreements signed but continuously breached since they are never held on ad hoc basis, but just mere impositions by the negotiators. The IGAD negotiators do not put borderline restrictions from the opposing armies. The parties trade accusations, each claiming of having been attacked first. These have not only delayed peace talks but also subjected the citizens to abject poverty countrywide as looting spree gets deeper each hour the clock tickles.

Although IGAD was perceived as a legitimate independent bloc to bring African solutions to African problems in the Horn and East Africa, it was a mouth-piece shielded in the shadows of Troika (US, UK and Norway). The Troika that had early bailed out SPLM revolt through military, Humanitarian assistance and various peace negotiations with the North, the prominent one being the CPA, now hoped to be rewarded by the government of South Sudan upon independence, through investment in the oil, mineral and other sectors they deem lucrative to them.

Their dream remained unfulfilled since the government opted for the China’s investment that had previously put pipeline infrastructure in place, thus the Troika was left with no interest other than to destabilize South Sudan. Kiir decried this publicly on 24 April 2018 that his government is being punished by the Western countries for having not rewarded them after they had assisted SPLM-led rebellion. The issue of the South’s oil and minerals is such a critical factor to the Western powers.

There is a prevailing believe (And indeed it is true) in the whole South Sudan that Garang’s mysterious death is traced around the hands of these mighty powers, due to his failure to award them oil and mineral contracts during the Naivasha CPA signing.

In spite of its division between the government and the oppositions, IGAD had no full capacity to structure the peace process nor influence its overall objectives without Troika’s directives. Throughout the CPA and the ACRSS, the IGAD was being bank-rolled by the US and its allies. Apart from financial donation, the Troika operated behind the scene (in form of IGAD Partners Forum) in terms of advice that must be implemented regardless of rejection by any belligerent party.

For example former US administration under President Bush through his Secretary of State Collin Powell once locked Dr. John Garang and Bashir in a room to take immediate decisions on Machakos Protocols of 2002, else severe repercussions would be imposed on any dissident.

Nevertheless IGAD has not put into consideration the dynamics and real roots of the problem. Inherent conceptualization of the genesis would enable the peacemakers to define the trajectory of the resolution with ease. Unlike the North-South war considered as an inter-state conflict but defined in the context of both religion and Arabism (ethnicity), the South-South conflict was purely ethnical and an intra-state war.

The IGAD thus has not learnt from the previous pitfalls of the CPA nor did it borrow a leaf from other conflict resolution bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that has resolved many political turmoil in West Africa from Liberia during Charles Taylor to Gambia during Yaya Jammeh.

Instead it borrowed heavily from CPA clause to formulate the security sector and power sharing, a method that is directly incompatible with intra-state war. Also IGAD does not supervise the parties at implementation. For example the CPA did not implement all its protocols in the areas of border demarcation between North-South, Abyei referendum, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan articles were breached altogether by the National Congress Party (NCP).

This similarly applied to ACRSS where the parties were left to sort out its implementation, moreover a volatile peace where protagonists were allowed to spell out their reservations prior to signing. This enabled the parties to renege and veer from stipulations in the ACRSS. Even if IGAD did avail follow-up mechanisms in the name of JMEC (Joint Monitoring and Evaluation committee) and Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) their performance to say the least had been below par as their heads got influenced in due course.

Whatever the root causes, conflicts are dynamical events that change shape as time progresses. Unfortunately IGAD’s mediation is coupled with undue procrastination. It is a common knowledge that if one wants to separate two persons who are fighting, one must be equal to or stronger than either of the two, otherwise you risk failing to separate them. Similarly, in peace talks, the peacemakers must either be strong to flex muscles or have the presence of a strong member with might, like Nigeria in ECOWAS. This is very necessary for the success of the talks, since the protagonists would respect it.

IGAD lacks such a member that can put its weight behind an agreed issue and command the respect of the parties. As such during the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A 2005 talks, the Government of the Sudan, which saw itself as strong as, or even stronger than any of the members of IGAD , often would ignore dates set for the talks and only attend as it chose to do and IGAD had to follow Khartoum’s delays.  Unfortunately, though the Government of South Sudan is not stronger than any of them, IGAD has allowed this to happen again.

Often the Government of South Sudan would decline to fulfill certain things, for instance it signed the 2015 agreement in Juba when other parties signed in Addis. When peacemakers allow such to happen, then their power of mediation is undermined.

Several timetables for negotiations are earmarked but postponed continuously. This has lengthened the means of finding the solutions, as other rebellions find their way in time and space and demanded inclusion in the peace process, broadening the complexity algebraically. Several opposition movements like Gatdet, Bakasoro Bangasi, Thomas Cirillo Swaka and Paul Malong became part of the equation that now needs critical solution of a quintic polynomial among the five interests parties notably the Troika, IGAD, Government, SPLM-IO and South Sudan Oppositions Alliance (SSOA). Because the IGAD was characterized by adjournment, the negotiation was bloated to unreasonable magnitude.

 Although the war initially got dichotomized as a Dinka and Nuer debate, after the ACRSS, the Non-Dinka and Non-Nuer tribes began posing questions such as: where are we? What is our fate if the country is being divided between the two? This sponsored the involvement of other ethnic groups like Shilluk and Equatorians (Zande and Bari), where their powerful sons alerted their youths to join rebellions and subsequently got represented in Addis. However, it must be noted that before the outbreak of the conflict in December 2013, many people in Equatoria had already perceived the Government of President Salva as a Jieng outfit.

Some got threatened by preponderance of the Dinka in the civil service security organs (army, police and security) and unduly inaction to cases of land grabbing in Juba, incursion of Jieng livestock into Equatoria and subsequent destruction of crops and their early call for federalism as the form of governance. Given these unaddressed grievances, after the outbreak of the conflict it was easy for some elements of Equatoria to find common cause with Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO to fight the Government. As a matter of facts, this ethno-political disparities should have been accounted for in 2015 ACRSS or even now.

Despite its success in bringing flawed peace to the Sudan via CPA, IGAD is inexperienced in political issues. The IGAD was founded not as a political body from its inception. In fact it was formed to address mainly economic crises, hence it was formerly called IGADD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Desertification) since 1997. To justify its incompetence, IGAD could accept useless demands such as having four vice presidents, I doubt if it had ever occurred elsewhere. Reversal of the created states. Although he now rejects the creation of more states, it is to be recalled that Dr. Riek was the first who presented the draft proposal for 21 states based on the former British Southern Sudan districts.

That call will never exonerate him from the hook. The demands put by all the oppositions contain higher suspicion of a foreign influence and this will always act as the barricade to finding genuine peace, because as citizens we would believe for a peace from within, stemming out from our hearts as South Sudanese, by accepting forgiveness and reconciliation than as directed by the Interest Groups engulfing the country from all directions. Whatever the length of time given to IGAD, be it a century it will never bring durable peace to South Sudan.

Francis Maluth Telar Thon’citloch (FMTT) is a True Patriotic South Sudanese and can be reached on the electronic mail:

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 Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website 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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