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IGAD: Artificial solution on South Sudan conflict; putting the cart before the horse

By James Gatdet Dak

January 30, 2015 (SSNA) -- On Thursday, 29th of January, 2015, heads of state and government of the African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), served the warring parties in South Sudan with a principle agreement document. The text drafted by IGAD leaders on the sideline of the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa “dictates” a solution for formation of a transitional government of national unity by imposing a leadership structure and personalities as well as proportionate power-sharing arrangements.

The take-it-or-leave-it document has provided key artificial arrangements and warned the South Sudanese warring parties of consequential action should there be non-full compliance.

In summary, the document has endorsed the incumbent President, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, to lead the transitional government, deputized by first vice president and vice president. This is in reiteration of the body’s long held decision that General Kiir is an elected president, although his legitimacy term ends in May or July this year, whether it is derived from the last April 2010 elections before independence or July 2011 constitutional legitimacy after independence.  

In this it is to be noted that IGAD has imposed on the parties a leadership structure which this time round should be of presidential system, throwing out other ideas and proposals which suggested it should be a parliamentary executive leadership structure composed of President and Prime Minister, or with deputies to the Prime minister, and Council of Ministers.

The regional leaders now dictate that while the first vice president should be a nominee from the SPLM/SPLA led by Dr Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, the vice president should be the incumbent, James Wani Igga.

The IGAD leaders went further to pledge that the speaker of the parliament should come from Greater Equatoria region.

IGAD has also imposed a power-sharing ratio, giving General Kiir’s government a lion share of 60% at all levels of government, SPLM/SPLA 30%, and other political parties and former detainees, 10%.

It has rejected the idea to dissolve and reconstitute membership of the legislative assembly and only agreed for an additional 68 new members to be appointed in accordance with the proposed sharing ratio, topping up to 400 lawmakers from the current membership of 332.

Further, IGAD has pre-empted how succession of executive leadership should be handled in South Sudan at least during the would-be transitional period under the proposed government of national unity. In this, IGAD has contradicted the traditional leadership hierarchy in the presidential system and also shunned application of seniority in the SPLM party’s would-be leadership.

These are some of the observations in the latest round of what has become an IGAD-led, not IGAD-mediated talks in Addis Ababa.

A question that comes to mind is what does IGAD want to achieve in this dictated and prioritized irrelevant arrangement?

To me, the answer is a mere pursuit of a short-lived credit….

I say it is about pursuit of a short-lived credit because it seems the regional bloc is not guided by the importance of reaching a lasting peace in South Sudan. It is rather urged by the desire to say it has made the warring parties to sign an agreement on leadership structure and power-sharing arrangements, in case the parties agree, despite lack of important proceeding resolutions on the underlying fundamentals that are key to a lasting resolution of the conflict.

This dictated document has unveiled a grave weakness and lack of seriousness in the mediation efforts and strategies IGAD employs in trying to resolve the 15 December 2013 crisis and uproot it from the roots.

Many would have thought that IGAD should be building on the intra-SPLM agreement on reunification in Arusha. In Arusha the parties agreed to reunify their ranks and file by first revoking General Kiir’s decision which dismissed party leaders.

This should have been followed by further dialogue on introduction and implementation of reforms and the fate of top leadership within the party while IGAD in Addis Ababa imitates the consensus reached in Arusha in resolving other non-party contentious issues.

The Arusha accord provided an opportunity for IGAD to address the root causes of the conflict which would inform and educate the mediation body about the genesis of the crisis and guide it towards resolutions and achievement of a lasting peace in South Sudan.

By now imposing that General Kiir shall be the president of transitional government in an attempt to provide him with a leeway to escape from the Arusha process, and by also pre-empting that the incumbent vice president Igga shall succeed Kiir, in case, IGAD has devastated the gains from the reunification initiative and dragged the peace process back to square one.  

The regional bloc has set a precedence of intransigence in the SPLM reunification process on the part of the government.

Arusha agreement was supposed to be a healthy model for the Addis Ababa peace process because it addressed the root causes and committed the parties to resolving them through that roadmap.

The long held belief in IGAD’s failure or difficulty to mediate and resolve the conflict mainly emanates from its reluctance to recognize the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan.

IGAD has been on impossible mission to quick-fix the problem by seeking to dress the surface of the infected deep wound with bandage rather than first diagnosing and treating the wound.

The regional body has been unfortunately responding to the impact of the conflict and urgent need to give it a temporary solution rather than addressing and resolving it based on its root causes.

IGAD leaders should generate an enthusiasm to study reasons why political conflicts within South Sudan always occur and recur within the SPLM for the past 32 years. This will provide them with a clue and understanding on how the current conflict came about and can be addressed thoroughly so as to avoid future recurrence.

For the results to be sustainable, the mediation effort should address the root causes of the conflict!

It is in the understanding of the root causes that a solution towards a lasting peace and stability in South Sudan can be achieved and sustained.

IGAD should instead press on the parties to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement. It should also persuade its member state, Uganda, and make it withdraw its troops from the war in implementation of the agreement.

The regional body can now prevent violence from escalating and focus on addressing the root causes in order to come up with the best remedy. The mediation should, of course facilitate and advise, but allow the parties to negotiate a lasting solution and not dictate a short-lived solution.

To utter threats of action against both parties collectively irrespective of who did what or how the crisis came about will not help the situation. The fact that IGAD attempts to push president Salva Kiir down the throats of his victims, rewarding him to continue as the leader, is a wrong strategy that will likely face resistance.

However, if IGAD wants to test imposition of solution on the parties as an experiment in the region, this should be based on an informed wise decision by taking into account the genesis of the conflict. People of South Sudan would expect IGAD leaders to be courageous enough to thoroughly address the root causes and call spade a spade.

This is also to say if democratization of politics and introduction of various reforms matter in the SPLM party and in the institutions of government - to bring about a lasting peace and unity of the people in the country and to usher in development - then a competent visionary leadership that will realize these fundamentals equally matters.

Finally, making responsible leaders to account for the genocide or committed war crimes and crimes against humanity is an important element in achieving justice and reconciliation.

Thus, it is important for IGAD to advise AU to make public the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the atrocities committed in this conflict.

Information on the magnitude and extent to which the damages have been done will further guide the warring parties in tackling the issues on compensation and reparation of the victims, which are yet to be resolved under the IGAD mediation.

Hence, putting the cart before the horse is a recipe for another disaster to recur, which is a disservice to the ever suffering people of South Sudan.

IGAD, address the root causes of the 15 December crisis…

The author is a Spokesperson in the Office of the Chairman, SPLM/SPLA. He can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

2015 Elections: How Many Carts Should Salva Kiir be Allowed to Place Before the Horses?

By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak

Introduction

January 25, 2015 (SSNA) -- In my last article, titled ‘Salva Kiir’s Attack on His Own Legitimacy Claim’, I made a point that the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 provides for four years of transition ”… before a new election could take place under a new and permanent constitution.” The most important part of that statement is the area talking about elections under the permanent constitution.

It signifies that there is no chance for any elections to take place under the current transitional period under the Transitional Constitution. I am only glad that the Opposition Parties have picked up that point and made a move to challenge the government in court for unconstitutionally wanting to conduct elections under the Transitional Constitution.

I want to state that the Opposition Parties have a standing to challenge unconstitutionality of any government’s act, as do any other citizen in the country, so long as the case is justice-able, ripe and not moot. But, they are wrong as far as timing is concerned. Filing their case at this time goes against ripeness doctrine. The current statements are only threats of action. The government has not yet taken any tangible step towards executing this threat. They should have waited for the time when the government actually releases the election money to the Elections Commission. That would trigger a case for an injunctive relief.

The premature action of the parties is only giving the court an opportunity to throw the case out on the ground that the case is not ripe yet. Nevertheless, there is no chance that the parties can win any case (ripe or not ripe, constitutional or unconstitutional) against Salva’s government in Chan Reech Madut’s court.

Elections

Before March 2013, the issue of elections in 2015 was never problematic. It suddenly started becoming a controversial one after March, when a number of SPLM leaders started showing their interests in the Party’s Chairmanship. After Salva’s leadership was openly challenged in the party, Salva and Wani started talking about the impossibility of the elections, citing lack of money to fund the exercises, as there were loans, to be repaid, which resulted from the 2012 oil shut down.

This position was taken at the time because Salva and his group did not yet know what to do with those who had shown interest in the Chairmanship of the party. It has to be noted that the party issue had a bearing on the 2015 elections. The SPLM Constitution stipulates that the Chairman of the SPLM shall be the flag bearer in the presidential election. So, something had to be done first to ensure that the Chairmanship of the SPLM remained with Salva before elections could be allowed to take place. The situation remained as such.

The whole thing started changing after the dissolution of the SPLM structures before the 6th of December 2013. This was the time after the group (Salva’s) seemed to have come up with a plan of action. They had decided to leave the opposition out of the party processes of passing the party basic documents and preparing for the National Convention. This was done to ensure that Salva controlled the process so that the Convention could end up electing him.

Before the Convention could take place, Wani started talking about the elections to be carried out on time. Their actions, beginning with the dissolution of the party structures, pre-determined the outcome of the Convention. They were sure that Salva would remain the Chairman of the party.

To make sure that these opponents did not have freedom to speak or take part in the political process, a plan was put in place to eliminate them one way or anthor. It had already begun with the home confinement and gagging of Pagan Amum and the removal and accusation of Deng Alor and Kosti Manibe on the basis that they had committed corruption.

For Dr. Riek Machar, they could not come up with any corruption charges. This led to the false accusation of a coup attempt. This was meant to take him out on charges, which would fetch him death sentence. That way, he could be eliminated for good. Carrying this plan out resulted in the current war breaking out, and the issue of elections became mute on its own.

Unilateral Postponement of the Elections

As the Peace Talks were going on last year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Salva Kiir while arriving at Juba Airport from an IGAD Summit in May, made a unilateral declaration that he had postponed the elections to 2018 or so. It did not matter to him whether or not he had a reason for such an act. To him, he was exercising some imaginary constitutional power, or he might actually have thought of himself as the constitution, needing no one else to consult. To other ordinary South Sudanese, it was a clear show of dictatorship. It also showed that he had no regard for the Talks in Addis Ababa.

It was after the declaration that Salva received criticisms both internally and externally. These criticisms came from all directions, including Yoweri Museveni himself—Salva’s most trusted external advisor. As a result, the idea of running elections was dropped altogether. It timing was left to be negotiated at the IGAD-led Peace Talks.

Legitimacy

Suddenly, the nagging issue of legitimacy has become one of desperation on the part of the government. It has now brought the 2015 elections to the fore. I suspect that it is not well thought out. It might have come up during some form of an ordinary conversation that the constitutional period of transition was approaching its end. Then someone might have tried to put himself in the position of a problem solver by suggesting elections as an ingenious way of restoring legitimacy. But, would that really solve the problem? Not a chance. The current Transitional Constitution is a big stumbling block.

Whatever Happened to the Transition?

Arguments for and against the 2015 elections have been advanced by many a people, following the first time that the government started declaring its intentions to conduct elections so as to avoid “leadership vacuum”. These arguments for the conduct of elections include the government carrying out a constitutional mandate, avoiding being categorized as illegitimate, and allowing the people to exercise their constitutional democratic right of choosing their leaders. Whatever they are, the arguments have no constitutional basis.

Arguments against the elections include insecurity, lack of a conducive atmosphere for the elections, state of emergency in Greater Upper Nile and the Peace Talks in Addis Ababa. They all suggest the impossibility of conducting a free and fair election. They are very sound and legitimate reasons. However, they are secondary.

The primary focus should be on the fact that the current period in the country is transitional. As such, the current Transitional Constitution’s role is to transition us from the period when South Sudan was an autonomous part of the old Sudan to the period when we could have a permanent constitution. It follows that the period is for the preparation of a new and permanent constitution of our own for the newly independent Republic of South Sudan. It is the government constituted or created by such a new and permanent constitution that officials should be elected to. It is not the current transitional government that officials should be elected to, as advocated by Salva and group.

Putting Pressure on the SPLM/A?

Someone made a suggestion that the government might be trying to put pressure on the SPLM/A by trying to conduct national elections. This is a laughable assertion. There is no way that one can put pressure on another by doing the wrong thing. One would be best served by doing the right thing in the interest of the people so that the opponent, if trying to go the opposite way, can find him/herself against the people.

The government, if that is part of the plan, will find itself under its own pressure by ending up antagonizing the people by trying to conduct unconstitutional elections. The people have a lot of things on their minds. There is war raging on in the country, which would make it impossible to conduct a free and fair election; there is a state of emergency in Greater Upper Nile; there is a threat of war-induced famine looming; there were fellow citizens killed in cold blood and no accountability procedures in place yet; and there are many more. Faking an election for the sake of a manufactured legitimacy would be the last thing to hear.

Insisting on the elections without legal basis would see the government ending up putting pressure on itself, as it will find no support from the ordinary people and the international community as well.

A Cart Before the Horse

The government should, now, be concerned with what to do with the transitional period as the first priority. Or else, whatever Juba does other than that, is meaningless. At this point, it has only two options to choose from before contemplating the conduct of elections. Going for the elections before going for one of the two options is like placing the ‘cart before the horse’.

1. Writing the Permanent Constitution

Paragraph 8 of the Preamble to the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 talks of the use of that Constitution and the period for which it shall be in use. It is only and strictly to be used for the Transitional Period. It talks about how the Constitution should be referred to upon adoption “…and shall be the supreme law by which the independent and sovereign South Sudan shall be governed during the Transitional Period…” It is at the end of this period that the new constitution should come in to force.

Article 199 (2) of the Transitional Constitution supports the point made above. It states, “This Constitution shall remain in force until the adoption of a permanent constitution.” By “This Constitution”, it refers to the Transitional Constitution.

Therefore, the task that the government should be prioritizing, if it is not concerned about the on-going war, should be to write and promulgate the permanent constitution—instead of wasting time and energy talking about preparing the country for what it calls ‘June 30th elections’. It is after the promulgation of the permanent constitution that elections could be conducted. It should not be the other way around.

2. Extending the Transitional Period

In the alternative, Salva could use the provision of the current Constitution to amend the same so as to have an extended period of transition. Article 197 of the Transitional Constitution, in regards to amending, states that, “This Constitution shall not be amended unless the proposed amendment is approved by two-thirds of all members of each House of the National Legislature sitting separately and only after introduction of the draft amendment at least one month prior to the deliberations.”

Knowing the nature of the current National Legislature, I believe Salva would not have difficulties getting the Constitution amended. Getting two-thirds of members in each house to support his amendment would be an instant event.

However, the extension of the transition would not allow elections. The extended period would only be used for the writing of the permanent constitution. It is after this that the elections would result.

Either way, Salva has no legal way of avoiding writing the permanent constitution before he can actually go for any elections.

Concluding Remarks

Whether the government acts alone or in agreement with the SPLM/A, elections—under the current constitutional dispensation in the country—can never be legally conducted to give legitimacy to the current government. There is just no constitutional mandate for elections into the current constitutional regime. It is under the permanent constitution that national elections can be conducted.

Instead of elections, the government should only start thinking on how to embark on writing and promulgating the permanent constitution, if it has the legitimacy to do that alone given the current war situation. It is after this that an election can be talked about. Otherwise, the government would be putting carts before horses.

The current transitional period is not for elections. It is for our transition to the next period to be ushered in by a new constitution. It is the next government that leaders will be elected to. This and other reasons, such as insecurity, peace talks that are on-going, etc will never allow this much-talked about elections to happen.

The author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Critique of SPLM Reunification Agreement in Arusha

By James Okuk, PhD

January 22, 2015 (SSNA) -- The Agreement on the Reunification of the SPLM that was signed in January 21, 2015 in Arusha, Tanzania, suggests three problematic tends despite the fact that it is in the name of peace and reconciliation but invitation of more pressure on the principals.

First, the East African leaders are desperate to see peace being restored to the Republic of South Sudan even if this involves farce, contradictions and renewed conflict when implementation stage arrives down from utopia.

Secondly, the generic content of the agreement leaves a lot to be desired in the level of political thinking and maturity from the SPLM’s factional cadres who negotiated it; you don’t see any amusing sense of rigorous intellectual work in that agreement. The negotiators might have been pre-occupied with the psyche of ‘what will each of them tell Dr. John Garang in the land of death if SPLM disintegrates’. They seem not to care for the Republic of South Sudan, its people, other political parties, resources and future.

Thirdly, the fate of that agreement is linked to the long-awaited the success of Addis Ababa IGAD-led peace talks. That is, if Addis Ababa peace talks collapse, the Arusha reunification agreement will be declared null and void with regret of wasted resources and time. Many available indications are not in favor of successful conclusion of Addis Ababa peace talks, particularly the issues of two standing armed forces in one country, management of oil money and government top positions. Thus, there is nothing yet to celebrate about Arusha agreement because it is not a break-through deal. Oppositely, it is Addis Ababa awaited break-through that would make Arusha a celebrity. The caro is still placed infront of the horse to block it from moving. Hence, pessimism should reign via realism before optimism gets in!

I

Articles 23 and 39 of the agreement made it hard for my throat to swallow and my stomach to digest the text. Nothing should be allowed to remain vague in-between if the SPLM leaders who converged in Arusha are sincere in establishing the SPLM-Reunited. Why should a reunified body still want to operate as different separate groups? A party is never united until it has a unified leadership. The current destructible war was a result of the disunited SPLM leadership. We already had the benefits of doubts, especially from the case of SPLM-United of 1991 which was abandoned by Dr. Riek Machar in order for him to form SSIM. Why repeat experimenting something whose results are known in advance and you expect a different result. Einstein will call this scientific insanity. The two articles damage the core soul of the Arusha’s SPLM-Reunited beyond repair of CCM Secretary-General even if he builds a permanent home in Juba to follow-up the implementation. The three SPLM factions shall remain as groups in the Political Bureau and in the Government since they shall be represented there equitably and proportionally respectively. But perhaps, this is what the SPLM's Arusha agreement calls 'genuine pluralism' (article 5). This will mean that no unity is yet around the corner for the entire leadership of the SPLM-Reunited, apart from tactics of coming to power and staying thereto intact using Machiavellian utilitarianism!

II

As far as there is term limits for holding offices of the SPLM’s National and States Chairpersons (article 30), nothing was said about the offices of the Secretary-General and other Secretariats. No term limits for them. Why? Perhaps, Pagan Amum, Anne Itto, Suzanne Jambo and other secretaries are going to remain the SPLM-SG and Secretaries for life. Lucky are they!

III

The SPLM showed no interest in promoting multi-party liberal democracy in the whole document though militarism and sectarianism was deplored. The document talked of pluralism only (article 5). That could be the reason why Hon. Awet Akot, Hon. Lual Deng and few other SPLM-Diehards would like to see the SPLM-DC abandoning its opposition role and merging with the SPLM-Reunited. At the end, the result will be a one-party state with pluralism of its wider membership. Is this the Republic of South Sudan we fought for?

IV

There shall not be government elections on 30th June 2015. Article 19 puts peace before elections by deferring SPLM convention and other arrangements that necessitate participation in government elections. The law suit against holding elections that was announced by NEC, is now gaining momentum of more evidence in favor of the National Alliance of political parties and civil society organizations that are outside the current government.

V

We shall no longer see Gen. Paul Malong Awan chairing SPLM affairs of Northern Bahr El Ghazal State. Article 12 tells him so, though it did not as well prohibit Ambassadors from being SPLM card holders. As we speak now, many Ambassadors of South Sudan in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation beat their chests of being loyal SPLM members, and they are deployed abroad and to strategic offices based on this manifest loyalty. For example, at the moment there is no any single head of diplomatic mission of South Sudan abroad who is not a declared SPLM loyalist. The SPLM's Arusha document had ignored totally this diplomatic anomalie while it tackled the case of armed forces. Diplomats are the unarmed army generals of a country in the forefront of the defense of foreign policy. South Sudan should not tolerate partisanship and sectional politicization in its diplomacy.

VI

For the SPLM to apologize (article 2 ) for the unforgivable mess it created in South Sudan and for it to account the criminal convicts in its membership (article11), is a notable acknowledgement of the critique some of us laid on the first signed framework in Arusha last year. What about the commanders and the criminals of corruption? Are they going to be accounted and unwelcome to the SPLM?

VII

Articles 8 and 13 want the SPLM not to be separated from the government. The government is called SPLM’s Government rather than the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. Why should we have a party government unless we are confirming to be a one-party state? The government should belong to all while the political party to its members only. The Westphalian nation-state dictates so. The two should not be mixed and exchanged at will. It shall look like forcing bull’s horns on a hornless donkey.

VIII

All in all, the SPLM didn't hint to any move of changing its name within the declared reform agenda so that the reunited party becomes re-brandedly relevant to the Republic of South Sudan. So where is the SPLM-Reunited transitioning to, if it is not willing to separate from the Sudan in order for it to adapt to South Sudan? “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Charles Darwin.

Bye bye to Arusha even without bringing home its real spirit of 1967. All eyes should now be starred towards Addis Ababa, because that is where the salvation of South Sudan is going to come from, if at all, it is to remain a lucky country in the world.

Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer and public analyst in the area of politics. He lives in Juba and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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