A Response to the article “Taking War to the People Through the 32-State Referendum”

Posted: July 28, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in December 2013 Crisis, HLRF, Junub Sudan

Responding to JOHN PEN Article: “Taking War to the People Through the 32-State Referendum and his claim that the Khartoum Agreement is too Weak Compared to 2015 ARCRSS” 

By Nathaniel Pierino; Head of IO Governance Team, IGAD HLRF

CEPO Fact sheet on the final proposal on outstanding issues on governance

CEPO Fact sheet on the final proposal on outstanding issues on governance

Saturday, July 28, 2018 (PW) — Thank you very much for your article John. I have this observations in your article;

  1. You and a consortium of your colleagues indeed have been in Khartoum city but never at the venue in Sobba. I remember seeing you once or twice in the entire one month or more before you “quit”. But you are able to put up this splendid article laden with “value addition. Your colleagues in the venue as well couldn’t do much because of the less attention given to them by the mediators. The fact that there has never been plenary in the talks. They were not part of the discussions we had unlike in Addis Ababa where they attended plenary sessions. Therefore It may not be accurate to conclude thus.
  2. “Taking war to the people” is appropriate description I can’t agree with you more. You should have added that War is as old as human society. From the time man left his solitary confinement to establish a community of whatever description war was invented as an industry to mitigate injustice, oppression, deprivations etc. when it became costly people again invented diplomacy (dialogue) to handle disagreements and war. Note that when diplomacy fails there will be war. Every party to war will seek to ensure advantage of numbers and weaponry. If “war is taken to the people” in South Sudan, I wouldn’t want to over state which party to the conflict at hand scored in this respect. This takes me to your point that;

  1. This “Agreement is weaker than ARCRSS” by all standards NO! Read it together with the security arrangements;
  2. Juba wanted to integrate forces but finally we agreed to reunification of forces;
  3. The total cantonment of opposition and government forces is much stronger than just the previous demilitarization of juba and major cities and towns;
  4. Points 2 was made more stronger by the clause on “demilitarization of civilian centers”
  5. Joint training of government and opposition forces by regional and international partners to re-establish a new national army; this is very strong aspects of this agreement. To mention few.
  6. If Your contention is on governance arrangements let me beg your indulgence;
  7. Presidency; 1 president +5 vps. Put interest in the article 1.3; 1.4; don’t scratch the surface. At aggregate levels, The composition of presidency is 3 against 3; mind you it’s collegial as per art. 1.4; Don’t forget Dr. Riek Machar is in town, release and FVP designate. It was easy after Juba1 created situations of “estranged groups” remind me if this reference is somewhere in the agreement.
  1. Council of ministers; 35 ministries; composition as follows 20 ministers for governments of Kiir, Taban, Lomoro, Onyoti etc; IG had 16 ministers alone, before. Today in this agreement he must give out of 20 ministers to taban group, Lomoro, Onyoti; Kiir must drop out some of his erstwhile allies in government to accommodate taban and his group; taban must lay waste some of his allies not to take too many of the 20 ministers, lomoro, onyoti also need their share from the 20; this is the logic of conceding to them  this much.  IO got 9 ministers (lost one of the original 10 in ARCRSS; in order to get the speaker of Council of States and First Deputy Speaker in the TNLA; (a trade off); the FDs retained 2; the new groups-SSOA got 3 ministers; OPP 1. This’s the outlook of the power sharing;
  1. Decisions making is by consensus failure is by 67% (24 ministers) votes;  IG or government party shall require extra 4 votes from opposition in council of ministers to make decisions in their favor.
  2. In TNL,  I have already talked of opposition gains of speaker of CoSs, and 2 deputies in TNLA, never did we get in 2015 ARCRSS; decisions making shall be by consensus, failure shall require Two-Third majority; government shall require 366 votes and they have 332 of the former elected members of which Dr. Riek is part of them as per article 3.2 which talks of expansion not dissolution. It’s Councils of State which is to be reconstituted as per article 3.4; in any case it shall be a game of politics, and the political program that parties advance is what shall attract supports in TNLA.
  3. Your point; “referendum on 32 before end of year or early January, 2019; it is misleading. Depends on when the peace agreements will be signed; and the start of Timeline or implementation matrix; as per your assumptions; if peace is signed today; 03 months shall be the duration of work of IBC (upto 28th October). But then the IBC shall have upto 05 months (upto 28th March) to organize a referendum. But now there’s no agreement yet, so your assumption is not based on facts but guess work.
  1. What is apparent is that the IBC shall be fully funded by the NPTC which runs budget or funds of the pre transitional period; NPTC shall also fund a referendum in events that the IBC fails in its work then comes second option; a referendum.
  2. Conduct of Referendum:
  3. IBC transforming itself into a “Referendum Commission on Numbers and Boundaries of States of the Republic of South Sudan” article 4.13; its important to quote this subject of referendum;
  4. The RCNBSS being composed of representatives of parties shall plan as to who to vote, where to vote, security of voters and recruitments and staffing etc; and the design of this exercise shall be in accordance to international standards article 4.14; under AU and IGAD supervision;

The RCNBS shall carry out the referendum based on the “viable alternatives advance by parties; article 4.8 read together with article 4.15; simply put the referendum shall be conducted based on;

  1. Viability of 32 states and created by Kiir decree and their boundaries;
  2. Viability of 21 states created by IO as per former colonial district as stood at 1st January 1956;
  3. Viability of 10 States and their boundaries established by sudan government Khartoum conference as per 1956 independence boundaries and enshrined in TCRSS and ARCRSS;
  4. Any other viable options as deemed necessary.
  5. The security of this exercise shall be by joint forces; by the 6th, 7th, and 8th months The parties shall have achieved significant requirements of security arrangements of cantonment of all forces, selection, recruitment and deployment of joint forces to major towns across South Sudan. They shall be beep up by RPF and UNMISS forces under respective mandates;

How Kiir will manipulate this joint forces to rig, intimidate the citizen is far-fetched. This is my take on your article.

Nathaniel Pierino; 

Head of Governance Team,


Taking War to the People Through the 32-State Referendum

By Jon Pen de Ngong

From my reading of the situation around the talks and of the document as a backbencher participant throughout the negotiation period of both the ARCISS and now HLRF Talks (since February 2014), this Agreement (Khartoum) is weaker than ARCISS (Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan), which was violated and broken up in a bloody showdown of July 2016.

The most damaging violation that drove the last nail on the coffin of the Addis Ababa Agreement of 2015 is President Kiir’s decree (Executive Order No. 32 of October 2, 2016) unilaterally dividing the country into 28 states, later increasing them to 32.

This violation has compounded the war and has, very unfortunately, been enshrined in this Revitalized ARCISS in Khartoum, hence a faultline for the failure of the Khartoum Agreement, as other parties have withdrawn their signatures. The malice was inserted into our Agreement during the impromptu Entebbe shuttle deal, referred to as the Entebbe Proposal.

Personally, I do not blame the dissenting parties because the Talks have been shrouded with the cloud of mistrust. For instance, some parties arrived days after the Khartoum Declaration was made between President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar.

Do not forget that some preliminary deal was signed by the petroleum ministers of Juba and Khartoum even before the handshake by the duo, as if to oil the agreement. This already seems to have compromised the mediator, the Government of Sudan, whose interests are now enshrined in the Agreement.

I am writing what I witnessed, myself, in Khartoum before I quit with some of my fellow civil society representatives upon realizing we were already being considered an ‘insignificant group with a non-essential voice’.

War has been shifted from the parties to the people! In Article No. 4 (32 states) of the Khartoum Agreement (Please, read the initialed pages of the Agreement else I mislead you), Salva Kiir will win the referendum in December or thereabouts.

The referendum will come about as the composition of the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) will make it impossible to let the commissioners nullify the decree that has imposed the 32 states on the Agreement as has been the case on the people.

The consensus building is crafted in such a way that the IBC, should they disagree, will not revert their decision to the resolution of the 55th IGAD Communique (resorting to original ARCISS’s 10 states).

To apparently solve the predetermined impasse in the IBC, the Agreement has gone ahead to recommend a referendum to be conducted after the 90 days of IBC stalemate and before the end of the Pre-Transitional Period of 8 months. That means the referendum will be around the end of this year or early 2019.

This is the game changer! By December 2018 or January 2019, Dr. Riek and other ‘insignificant groups with their non-essential threats’ will not be in the country, and by extension, not in the counties, yet. Only the generals and their cantoned soldiers could be there.

Therefore, the referendum campaigns will be conducted under Kiir’s incumbent TGoNU under the supervision of AU and security of IGAD (Uganda and Sudan as per the Khartoum Security Arrangement).

Did I just write ‘referendum’? No, it is actually the ’32 referendums’ (referenda)! How this? The number of states will not be necessarily answered with a YES or NO vote. Like 32 versus 23 versus 21 versus 10 states. I am still wondering what formulae the Referedum Commission will adopt.

For the case of boundaries, each state will design its own mechanism of solving their problem. Remember, the administrators (32 state governors and county commissioners) will still be Kiir’s very own within those stipulated 8 months of the Pre-Transitional Period during which this abrupt plebiscite (people’s consultation) will be conducted.

How About Taking War To The People?

Now the slogan will change from ‘taking towns to the people to taking war to the people’! Why is this?

There will be no free and fair decision as the presiding governors, ministers, commissioners, etc. will see this as a referendum on their own positions. Remember, this leaders were not elected by the people but appointed by President Kiir to replace the people’s elected ones.

To tickle your memory a bit, the last time we exercised our rights to voting in elections and referendum was when we were Sudanese. My leaders of the new nation are allergic to elections. This should explain why the legitimacy extension has been by the blood or by the money of  their people as is now the case, and will be.

Some tribes and clans (say, people) will have their decisions over the emotive border issues overridden. Yes, by those or any other means, the peoples of South Sudan will be disenfranchised.

The 32 states will still win! Some states, which are already feuding over boundaries and marginalization now, will contest the results. The other day, one opposition governor swore that “the war will shift to the kith and kin if the referendum is rigged this time!” This is when I told him he would not be there to safeguard his vote as a governor or voter in his village a few months on the line. It is designed that the referedum take place before the parties are at home.

Some opposition parties will hereby purport to champion their people’s cause. The usual means here is characteristically the violence. In this case, the plebs of each state will fight their own war, as such disputes have already taken place over boundaries and lands.

The conflict will have been thus exported to the people by making them wrangle over the decision they had not originally made. People make decisions by plebiscite, not through decrees.

Excuse my doomsaying, but this arrangement can throw our whole country into chaos unless handled with the people-centred interests. What are they? Let me assume my readers must have already known these through their post-independence war.

As if that is not enough, why is this 32-state saga so emotive an issue? It is not only because it was a result of dictatorship, that is, a decree by one person, nor is it because it is the stark violation of the ARCISS; no, it is emotive because of the motive.

What is this motive? They are now motives as per the agreement. Winning 32 states referenda by the end of Pre-Transitional Period means winning the elections by the end of the Transitional Period for Kiir and his chunk of the SPLM, incliincl his oyee-chanting opposition parties ‘made in Juba’.

The resource sharing, say development, will be based on this decision, if not division. My politics-in-poetics series calls it a ‘divide-and-ruin legacy’ by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. Yes, when a controversial notion that once broke up the parties is thrown to the lower end of the fledgling nation, what do you think the people will do with it? The same!

This being my personal analysis, my war-generated anger is anchored on the African leadership style of the liberator owning the liberated forever, including handing them over to his family lineage or a clique of colleagues. This is a total doom when such liberators are only gifted with the talents of liberation and not that of development.

Here is the case in point. Zimbabwe is now busy rebooting to the factory settings the Mugabe’s liberator ‘achievements’, which have thrown his people from the independence victory into the dependence misery for amlost four decades of decadence.

South Sudan is on this Harare road, given our leaders’ chest-thumbing manliness against the ‘khawaja’ over whom the Arabs are now being preferred as our new saviours to manage for us our peace and its implementation, with our oil and its extraction– just 7 years after we extracted ourselves out of their hands!

My worry is compounded by the fact that Kiir with his undefined system is being fronted as our eternal father by the two longest ruling dictators in the neighborhood (in the region and the continent). He has already caught the liberator-father feelings and is now busy catching this longetivity virus from his African peers.

These are my fears. They are also my mother’s and children’s. So I stand by my words come the repercussions. Because I love my country, not my leaders.

‘Cry the De-loved Country’!

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 paanluel2011@gmail.com. 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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