Why the Extension of the Formation of the National Unity Government is Logical

Posted: April 28, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan, R-ARCSS, R-TGONU

The logical and practical reasons for the extension of the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU)

By Garang Kuot, Juba, South Sudan

2 Dinkas, 3 Nuers, and one Equatorian - The Proposed Presidency of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU)
2 Dinkas, 3 Nuers, and one Equatorian – The Proposed Presidency of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU)

Sunday, April 28, 2019 (PW) — The ongoing debate over the delay or immediate formation of a transitional government of national unity, slated for May 12, 2019, is already losing track on facts as the Juba propaganda machinery is seizing the opportunity to sadly mislead the people of South Sudan one more time. South Sudan was here before and so the people of South Sudan shouldn’t risk falling into the same trap of manipulation and deception. 

The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) never left any room for ambiguity, everything is adequately and clearly spelled out. It would, therefore, be a colossal and unforgivable mistake to repeat the blunders of the past considering the carnage and suffering the people endured in the last five years. 

The SPLM (IO) Chairman, Dr. Riek Machar’s proposal to extend the formation of a transitional government has drawn a mixed reaction. However, the critics of his proposal are either deliberately refusing to see the truth for ulterior reasons or they have not read the agreement. Drawing from past experiences, the R-ARCSS has laid out a step by step processes and modalities on how to execute its implementation. No room was left for guesswork in the R-ARCSS and so there is no reason to start guessing now.

With the above said, the proposal of SPLM (IO) Chairman is simply logical and practical. The whole idea behind the R-ARCSS was to guarantee a sustainable and lasting peace in the Republic of South Sudan. In order to have a sustainable peace in our resource-rich country, it would be prudent to get the entire process right from the beginning this time rather than rushing things only to fall into the same traps of the past. Rushing into the formation of the transitional government when the most important requirements in the agreement have not been met would be a recipe for a near future disaster. 

Knowing full well what happened in the past, it would be advisable not to rush things now when the whole Chapter One of the agreement has not been implemented. There is a blessing in jumping into Chapter Two of the agreement, leaving the entire Chapter One of the peace deal which forms the basis for lasting peace, pending. 

Dr. Riek’s proposal to extend the formation of the transitional government is, in all honesty, logical and practical as per the provisions of Chapter One of the agreement, particularly clauses on the pre-transitional period. The agreement has clearly spelled out what needs to be done prior to the formation of the transitional government of national unity none of which has been implemented. 

Some critics are making a lot of misplaced and illogical claims against Dr. Riek over his proposal to extend the formation of the transitional government, going as far as labelling him as anti-peace. If hypocrisy and double standards have not shattered the consciousness of our people, then these accusations are simply synonymous to attacking a shadow while like leaving the elephant to majestically walk by unharmed, untouched and undisturbed. 

Every informed South Sudanese knows why we are here and why we failed not to implement even a quarter of pre-transitional arrangements in the agreement. 

For the last seven months, we have continuously been hearing that there were no funds for implementing the R-ARCSS. If honesty is still anything to go by, one is prompted to ask: was Dr. Riek Machsr in charge of our oil revenues and other State financial resources which were intended to finance the agreement? 

I know many critics of Dr. Riek are aware of who to blame but due to reasons best known to them, they are deliberately misdirecting their criticisms against an innocent man called Dr. Riek because, in their opinion and naive assumptions, Dr. Riek is the most suited scapegoat within a tribalized politics of South Sudan. 

The intention of these critics is to negatively, albeit falsely, sell the image of Dr. Riek to the people of South Sudan by making it look as if he is keeping the country hostage in perpetual violence. Unfortunately, deceitful politics and outright misrepresentation of fact are old fashion in South Sudan in this present age and time; people have learned to differentiate facts from lies in the hardest way, especially after being turned against each other severally on false grounds. 

In order to put the core components of Chapter One of the R-ARCSS into proper context and as a reminder to my learned readers, let me provide important activities that the agreement required the parties to carry out during the pre-transitional period none of which has been done: 

1. Security Arrangement: 

The R-ARCSS provides that, prior to the formation of the transitional government of the national government, the parties to the agreement would engage in integration and joint training of forces which would form the core of a national army. It was this integrated, trained force that was expected to provide protection for the transitional government of national unity. However, it has not been possible to train this force because the government has not released funds for this purpose. Not only has the joint training and integration of forces has not been possible, but some cantonment areas for SPLM (IO) forces are also yet to be identified. This failure is not on the side of SPLM (IO), it is the government that failed to avail necessary funds as required by the agreement. And you can feasibly form a transitional government without finalizing this critical step. 

2. Constitutional Amendment: 

The September 12, 2018 peace agreement stipulates that the signed R-ARCSS would be incorporated into the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011. However, this has not been possible despite the formation of the relevant body. Here, one is prompted to wonder as on what basis would a transitional government be formed when the constitution is not amended as required by the R-ARCSS? 

3. Number of States and their Boundaries: 

Everyone is aware that the question of the number of States has been a contentious issue throughout peace negotiation duration. In order to resolve this thorny issue, the agreement provided for the establishment of Technical Boundaries Committee, Independent Boundaries Commission and Referendum Commission. The determination and agreement on the number and boundaries of the States are tied to the formation of the Council of States. However, to this day the entrusted bodies to carry out this task have not reached anywhere. So how do you form a government when you don’t even know the composition of Council of States? 

4. Lifting of State of Emergency: 

The parties had agreed that, as part of confidence-building, particularly among the civil population, the State of emergency which was declared by the President in 2014 and 2017 in many parts of the country would be lifted during the pre-transitional period. The President is yet to lift the state of emergency. There won’t be any argument over this matter if there was genuine political will. 

5. Demilitarization of Cities and Big Towns: 

The R-ARCSS also stipulates that key towns and cities in South Sudan such as Juba, Wau, and Malakal would be demilitarized during the pre-transitional period. This would reduce the chances of misunderstanding and incidences that may affect peace. It would also promote and strengthen confidence among civil population especially those who are in UN Protection of Civilians Sites and refugees. Contrary to this provision, cities and towns have continued to be heavily militarized. Who is to blame over this failure to demilitarized towns and cities? 

6. Dissemination of R-ARCSS 

The peace agreement also provides that there would be the dissemination of peace both within the country and in the Diaspora. So far, there has been partial peace dissemination in Greater Upper Nile and Equatoria but not a single dissemination committee has been allowed to go to Bahr El Ghazal for this purpose.

Dissemination Committees for Bahr El Ghazal region were formed since November 2018 but they have been denied permission to travel to their respective States in order to disseminate peace to the grassroots communities. The case in point is that of Northern Bahr El Ghazal peace dissemination committee which purchased its food ration for dissemination purpose and sent it ahead hoping to find it in the State.

This is after being told that there were no funds for peace dissemination purposes. The food ration in question was confiscated and disappeared. The decision to deny permission to dissemination committees for Bahr El Ghazal region is a clear manifestation of lack of political will on the side of the government to implement the agreement.

Dr. Riek and his leadership have done everything they could to demonstrate their commitment to peace. He shouldn’t, therefore, carry any blame for the difficulties the agreement may be facing now. He has done everything he could, despite severe lack of financial resources at his disposal, to send SPLM (IO) peace dissemination committees to the States as required by the agreement but the government led him down. 

7. Release of Political Detainees and Prisoners of War: 

The agreement also stipulates that all political detainees and prisoners of war would be released during the pre-transitional period as a gesture of goodwill and confidence-building measure. Although the government should be commended for releasing some political detainees such as James Gatdet, many prisoners are still languishing in prisons across the country. This does not augur well with the spirit of peace. 

Having highlighted the above important areas in Chapter One of the R-ARCSS, which have not been implemented, how is Dr. Riek Machar wrong in requesting the extension of the formation of the transitional government? How realistic could the parties conceivably form a government on such a shaky ground and expect a different result from the 2016 scenario? 

Furthermore, it is necessary to remind the readers that we still have tens of thousands of our fellow citizens in the United Nations Protection of Civilians Sites and millions of others are in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, all of whom look up to Dr. Riek as a reformist, to deliver on a badly needed good governance and rule of law, on their behalf. 

Gauging from this massive citizenry expectation, how do the tribally motivated critics expect Dr. Riek to explain himself to the civil population, say, in SPLM (IO) control areas, IDPs, refugees, and SPLM (IO) forces if he ends up in Juba without any single achievement made towards the implementation of the R-ARCSS during the pre-transitional period? 

It is needless to say that the issue at hand is not about Dr. Riek or his personal security as his critics would want us to believe, it is about delivering on the commitments and promises made in the agreement. 

Who is to Blame for the Failure to Implement Chapter One of The R-ARCSS during the Pre-transitional Period: 

It is my firm belief that the people of South Sudan, who have borne the brunt of physical and economic consequences of this five years’ conflict, must never mince their words, this time; they must apportion the blame where it rightfully belongs. The people of South Sudan are not condemned to perpetual destitution, a situation wilfully immortalized by their own leaders who care less about their welfare. Indeed, they can be lied to once but they can’t lie to every day. 

As everyone is aware, the entire R-ARCSS was expected to be funded by the Republic of South Sudan through oil revenues. Fortunately, the cessation of hostilities, which the warring parties have thankfully respected, actually led to a huge increase in oil production and the government is admittedly on records confirming the increase in oil production. 

Ironically, however, the main reason the government has been providing, as a reason for not implementing the Chapter One of the peace agreement in the last seven (7) months, was lack of financial resources. Who in his right mind would believe this excuse? 

It is no secret to mention that the government has persistently been arguing that there is no money to implement the agreement. But the question is: where is the oil money? The oil is pumped to the international market on a daily basis, where does the money go? This is the question every honest and informed South Sudanese citizen should be asking; where is the oil money since Chapter One of the peace agreement couldn’t be implemented, supposedly, due to lack of funds? 

All of us are aware that, despite the government’s failure to avail funds for implementing the agreement, government employees go on for many months without pay yet the oil continues to flow to the international market. Honestly, something isn’t right somewhere, otherwise, where does the money go? 

In my opinion, the government in Juba has no slightest interest in the implementation of the R-ARCSS. I don’t believe that South Sudan is too broke as not to afford the implementation of some critical areas in the peace deal. There is just a very serious lack of political will to implement the agreement in its totality. 

The government in Juba believes that the people of South Sudan are too dumbed and too tribalistic, that they can easily be manipulated to foolishly accept blaming Dr. Riek for the failure to implement the peace deal. And after they are effectively blinded to see Dr. Riek as the problem, the smart few would then turn around and continue pocketing the oil money while the masses suffer. In fact, this is the saddest way of taking people’s intelligent for granted. 

Not so long ago, for instance, we saw Members of Transitional National Legislative Assembly being allocated millions of dollars for reasons we are yet to know and we also saw recently one of the most expensive and absolutely unnecessary Presidential tour in Bahr El Ghazal region. The question is: where did the government find the money to undertake such unnecessary yet expensive projects? Where these two projects: payment of National MPs and a Presidential tour, more important than the implementation of a peace accord? 

The bottom line is that the government in Juba has no political will to implement the agreement, period. The issue is not lack of money, as we have continued to her because our oil never stopped flowing to the international market. In this regard, the people of South Sudan should widely open their eyes this time and reject any attempt to manipulate and mislead them again. There are people in South Sudan who seem to have assumed total ownership of our collective resources. 

But, the independence of South Sudan was bitterly fought and heavily paid for by all of us. Therefore, these few individuals must not be allowed to indefinitely reap our collective toil, they must be called out especially now that our treasured peace agreement is hanging on the balance, purportedly, due to lack of funds. 

The lame excuse, being advanced by Juba propaganda machine, that Dr. Riek is refusing to implement the peace agreement following his recommendation to extend the formation of the transitional government, should be dismissed out rightly. Dr. Riek is not and will never be against peace in South Sudan. 

It is worth informing the readers that every attempt Dr. Riek made, in the last seven months, to implement the peace agreement has either been rejected or frustrated by the government in Juba. A case in point is the government refusal not to grant SPLM (IO) peace dissemination committees permission to travel Bahr El Ghazal region. 

Dr. Riek himself had been under restricted mobility throughout the pre-transitional period, until late Much, 2019 when he received an invitation from the Vatican for a spiritual retreat. Everyone should recall that the SPLM (IO) Governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Mubarak Deng Tong, had to break his silence and wrote a public letter to IGAD member States, appealing for the release of Dr. Riek from his silent detention. The restriction of Dr. Riek’s mobility, which benefited those who now want to make him a sacrificial lamb in our current predicament, greatly hampered his ability to help our country in mobilizing both political and material resources necessary for the implementation of the agreement. 

But despite what we all know, some people now have the gut to try to label Dr. Riek as anti-peace. What a despicable level of hypocrisy and double standard this is if indeed consciousness still means a thing in our beloved country, South Sudan? Dr. Riek has done everything humanly possible to implement the peace agreement despite his restricted mobility yet some people still think they can make him scapegoat for a failure which is smartly engineered in Juba where our national resources are controlled and managed. 

And without shame, these critics expect the rest of the country to cheer them on in their deceptive propaganda. What an underestimation of our people’s intelligent?

Some critics are even forgetting that the very reason why our country descended into this turmoil in the first place was because of a call for comprehensive reform in our terribly broken system where anyone can be a victim of unlawful circumstances?

What would, therefore, have been the purpose of the suffering of our people from all walks of life in the last five years, if Dr. Riek was to pack his bag and goes back to the status quo in Juba without realizing any reform in critical areas of governance, security, economy and infrastructural development, et cetera? 

South Sudanese must begin to think big this time for the sake of present and future generations. We may be too selfish today to mindless about our posterity but history is such a mean reality; we shall one day be judged by what we do during the times of our uncertainties. 

It is also important to note that the people of South Sudan must never allow themselves to be manipulated along the tribal line. Tribalism has been an effective tool used to manipulate people’s perspective on important national issues; it is high time to rise above our ethnic loyalties and demand a better South Sudan that belongs to every citizen regardless of tribe, religion or political affiliation – a country where good governance and the rule of law triumphs. 

It is also high time for the people to hold their leaders accountable for their failures regardless of the communities they come from. 

I want to conclude by saying that the people of South Sudan can’t afford another round of bloodshed and destruction, considering the effects of the last devastating five years. Every family has been affected, in one way or another, by this conflict and it is therefore important to preserve this shaky peace regardless of so many challenges it is currently facing. 

However, since it is not practical to form the government of national unity now, let the parties to the agreement extend the formation of a transitional government for six (6) months, as requested by Dr. Riek, and let the government in Juba accept it’s responsibility and avail adequate financial resources, this time, so that the parties to the agreement may be able to implement the most critical areas in the peace deal, including and not limited to security arrangement, constitutional amendment and decision on number of States. 

The most important thing now, at least in the perspective of the common citizen, is not the formation of the unity government but, instead, it is about ensuring sustainable and lasting peace in South Sudan, hence the need for doing the right thing at this opportune time. 

Last but not least, the IGAD’s intervention is urgently required to help the parties navigate through the many hurdles the agreement is now facing. In particular, IGAD needs to pressure the government of South Sudan to release funds for implementing the peace deal. I hope the May 2nd and 3rd, 2019 consultative meeting in Addis Ababa over the status of R-ARCSS will produce a positive result. 

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.

Comments
  1. David says:

    Mr writer what do you think will change when the extension of the formation of the unifying government is granted? Honestly there will be no change at all, lack of money to fund it will be still there and we ordinary citizens will still don’t know where the oil money goes, nobody is going to give us an answer to that. Those leaders will be still traveling to other countries for show off like what they did last time when they went to Italy for the spiritaul retreat we don’t even know the propose of it. Honestly, the only thing we want the most and continue the way it is now is cessation of hostilities, we thank God for that small window we have and we will be continuing pray to Him (the God) to keep it that way forever, but the formation of unifying government is in big doubt even though they are given the whole year to set it up. They will still requesting for more times, anyway if the time they are requesting will keep that cessation of hostilities the way it is now, we will go for the extension, but nothing will change after the end extended period in my opinion.

    Like

  2. David says:

    Mr writer what do you think will change when the extension of the formation of the unifying government is granted? Honestly there will be no change at all, lack of money to fund it will be still there and we ordinary citizens will still don’t know where the oil money goes, nobody is going to give us an answers to that. Those leaders will be still traveling to other countries for show off like what they did last time when they went to Italy for the spiritaul retreat we don’t even know the propose of it. Honestly, the only thing we wanted the most and want it continue the way it is right now is cessation of hostilities, we thank God for that small window we have and we will be still continuing praying to Him (the God) to keep it that way forever, but the formation of unifying government is in a big doubt even though they are given the whole year to set it up. They will still requesting for more times, anyway if the time they are requesting will keep that cessation of hostilities the way it is now, we will go for that extension, but nothing will change when the extended period ended in my opinion.

    Like

  3. HUYANO JAMES says:

    Gov,t and SPLM/A IO possess killing that,s why they cling or initiate programmes that can kill people. There war is not for us.

    Like

  4. Bol Dengdit says:

    This article is crucial for eye-opening sake so that the people can read between the lines. nonetheless, Junubeen, even more, yearns for a quick implementation of the transitional government as soon as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

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