“It is time we define governments in Africa as the responsibility, not the power” – Dlamini-Zuma
By James Okuk, PhD
August 21, 2015 (SSNA) -- On 17th August 2015 in Addis Ababa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development for mediation of peace talks by the warring parties in South Sudan, known as IGAD-Plus, managed to conclude the twenty months negotiations. In the evening of the dateline set for the end of peace talks, the reinvigorated leadership of IGAD-Plus’s presented finally to the stakeholders the “AGREEMENT ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT IN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN".
After ups and downs of the last minutes of peace talks politics, the agreement was initialed by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (In Opposition) known as SPLM/A-IO, and the SPLM Leaders known as the Former Detainees (FDs). Unfortunately, the Political Parties of South Sudan were prevented to be in Addis Ababa to initial and sign the Agreement (though they welcomed it and stated their intention to sign it once given the opportunity to do so either in Addis Ababa or in Juba). However, the GRSS postponed for two weeks the final signature of President Salva Kiir Mayardit on the document (pending the result of tactical further consultations or may tempers cooling at home). The president and his team have been given the benefit of doubts to prove their honesty within 15 days.
Good enough, the rest of the stakeholders, adherents, guarantors and witnesses initialed and signed the agreement with good faith. The fact that the IGAD-Plus, powers from all corners of the world and most South Sudanese stakeholders have stood firmly together with one voice for ending the war and ushering peace, is a strong indicator that the GRSS has been left alone with no dignified choice at the end but to sign the peace agreement by 31st August 2015 in Addis Ababa. Thus, the GRSS’ requested further consultations shall not have significance apart from mere registration of dissatisfaction and fear with some articles of the agreement, but which shall remain unaltered despite the protests. The dateline has not become a deadline for South Sudan! Good.
Despite the delay, there is still a great light at the end of the darkened tunnel. Peace is now outside from around-the-corner. Those who have been thinking that President Kiir is not committed to ending the war and bringing peace back to the country shall all get disappointed soon. The evils that they might have been planning on the back of war situation shall get dispelled by the power of peace agreement that is going to be celebrated by all good-hearted people, both internally and internationally. Anyone can call it a ‘forced agreement’ or a ‘bad deal’ but it will still be a congratuleable step for stopping the current devastating war and avoiding international humiliation!
There can never be ‘Bad Peace’ even if is achieved through unfair agreement. The awaited peace will bring the dignity of South Sudan back to where it had been from the time of its declaration of independence in 2011. There shall no longer be desperate and dying South Sudanese at the congested inhumane UNMISS camps inside and refugees locations abroad. There shall not be threats of hunger. The children shall go back to schools. Rural hospitals and clinics shall reopen. There shall be hope of livable livelihood and prosperity to all in all corners of South Sudan. Hard lessons would have been learnt.
The politics of peace talks is already over. What has remained for those who are still enjoying its hangover is nothing but emotional choice theory via frustration venom. The Rational Choice Theory would dictate that the clever politicians should focus on politics of implementation of the signed peace agreement. Those who still want to continue with war or attempt to obstruct the implementation of the agreement shall be losers.
When the peace deal is finally signed and celebrated officially by all the designated representatives and permanent ceasefire within 72 hours is declared immediately, the 75-Page document shall become binding for implementation within three years (2015 – 2018). The document comprises the Title; Table of Contents; Acronyms; Preamble; Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU); Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements; Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction; Resource, Economic and Financial Management; Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing; Parameters of Permanent Constitution; Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC); Supremacy of the Agreement and Procedures for its Amendment; Signatories; and Appendixes.
Some articles of the agreement that have been stipulated under these headings are excellent, others are good and fair, but yet others are controversial and suspicious. The preamble is excellent as it stipulates in writing the spirit under which the letter of the agreement is supposed to be implemented. It affirms the ideals of diversity, inclusivity, humanitarianism, reforms, collegial decision-making, transparency, accountability, rule of law, truth, justice, apology, reparation, compensation, healing, harmony, federalism, reconstruction and development that should become a norm by virtue of the advent of value of peace to South Sudan. The preamble promises generically a peace that should make cats to lie in harmonious dignity in one territory with mice and rats.
The humanitarian and economy aspects of the agreement are good and fair in many aspects. The religious part of it is also acceptable to all the stakeholders as it focuses on reconciliation, forgiveness and healing in the warring communities so that the lost trust can come back so as to reweave the loosened social fabrics.
However, the power sharing aspect of the agreement is controversial, particularly for some selfish politicians and businessmen who are interested in holding or acquiring position seats for the sake of luxury. This is where Machiavellianism is seen playing its principles of ‘the end justifies the means’ and ‘victory to the cleverest and the cunning’. This could get interwoven with the armed forces aspect of complications if not handled carefully with an eagle eye and sustained pressure from members of international and regional governments who have better leverages and stakes in South Sudan.
Regarding the security arrangements, the cantonments and demilitarization is not going to be a very easy affair unless the armed forces job is made less lucrative. The rebels may inflate their numbers but this shouldn’t be made a big deal as the mechanisms of the security sector reforms will catch up with them later. Juba and other capitals are not going to be demilitarized as it was proposed in the first draft compromise agreement. What will take place shall be redeployment of forces to specific locations. The rebels might not like this provision but they have no choice but to put up with it.
The presidential guards will remain intact but pending reforms too. Military Barracks and Warehouses arms guards shall also stay put without limitation. That means the GRSS could redeploy as many soldiers into Bilpam SPLA Headquarters and Giyada as they wish (provided that they don’t come out to mingle with civilians while militarized with uniforms or arms). There will not be foreign armed forces to neutralize the capital but only joint integrated police who shall also be deployed in Bor, Malakal and Benteu and in any other place in South Sudan with UNMISS’ Protection of Civilians (PoC) site. This is for building confidence in order to dispel fear of being harmed outside UNMISS’ premises when the civilians go back to their homes finally.
The unification of the warring forces shall be complete within 18 months so that no political leader goes to elections while owning a bullying military wing of his party. The SPLA name would also have been changed by then so that the newly reformed and standardized conventional defense forces of the Republic of South Sudan could take up their national duty in a rightful manner, far from regionalism or tribalism or nepotism. All the allied forces from neighboring countries shall leave South Sudanese alone.
However, the rotary choice of the executive positions within the agreed percentages of 53% for GRSS, 33% for SPLM/A-IO, 7% for FDs and 7% for Political Parties (who attended in June 2014 the IGAD’s Recognized Addis Ababa Symposium) is going to be very uncomfortable for the GRSS because the SPLM-Juba shall lose the grip on important some important ministries (like the Defense, the Security, the Interior, the Finance, the Petroleum, and the Foreign Affairs).
Some powers have been taken from the President and given to the First Vice President. The Incumbent Vice President (i.e., James Wani Igga) has nothing much to show for governance powers beyond commissions and smaller specialized institutions unless when delegated by the President but on condition of non-conflict with the duties of the First Vice President. However, this is not a surprise because Vice President is supposed to be part and assistant of the President and not a competitor of the First Vice President.
Both the President and the First Vice President shall not have absolute powers individually, because in case they failed to reach a consensus on an issue, the 67% and 23 quorum of Council of Ministers will have complete power over the divided Presidency in final decision-making on essential issues of governance and leadership.
Women can no longer be marginalized. Their 25% is now a right and not a benevolent duty from any male politician any more. They shall be in the Cabinet as full ministers and deputy ministers nominated by the principal stakeholders and appointed not by chance.
The National Legislative Assembly’s Speaker shall be from Equatoria but James Wani Igga shall have no option to switch from the Presidency to that post unless he resigns first. However, the replacement to the Vice President’s post shall not be guaranteed to go to Equatoria after he has left it. The concerned party (the GRSS) shall nominate any eligible South Sudanese from any region or from any gender to that vacant post.
At the states levels where the parliaments shall remained untouched; the SPLM/A-IO shall not have the upper hand in power sharing. Only the governors of Upper Nile and Unity state shall be nominated by the SPLM/A-IO while Jonglei State Governor shall be nominated by the GRSS. The Ministers who shall serve under these governors shall be apportioned as 46% for GRSS, 40%for SPLM/A-IO, 7% for FDs and 7% for Political Parties who have been recognized by the IGAD. That means, the upper portfolios control in Greater Upper Nile shall remain with the GRSS party, in addition to overwhelming control of the rest of the seven states in other regions where the armed opposition (not specifically SPLM/A-IO because it could be REMNASSA, etc) shall be granted 15% share of executive power while the GRSS retains 85%. All these are rewards to the rebellions but also to all factions of SPLM for having subjected South Sudan into crises. But given the dire quest for ending the war, this could be tolerated limitedly.
Any Member of Parliament at national or states level who has been dismissed shall be reconfirmed. However, the agreement is silent on the mode of replacement of those who have or who might have died while on parliamentary duty.
The national wealth (e.g., oil, gas, gold, timber, land, water, forests, fish, wild animals, etc) at the states levels shall not be left to the mercy of states governments. Revenues shall be centralized for the implementation of the agreement and accommodation of politicians and army generals. The desired equitable distribution of revenues in the spirit of sharing and rural community developments vis-a-avis population proportionality (call it taking towns to the people in the poor and destroyed villages) shall wait for later.
The IGAD-Plus in consultation with the stakeholders shall constitute a Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) as well as National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) to do the necessary for implementation of the provisions of the agreement during the 3-month pre-interim period and beyond. Other important institutions shall also be constituted or reconstituted (e.g., the National Elections Commissions, the National Constitution Review Commission, etc) for the same purpose.
All in all, if the SPLM leaders managed to unite by virtue of Arusha Reunification Agreement (which I doubt they will), the monopoly of power and wealth at the Presidency, the Council of Ministers, the Parliaments and the ten States shall become less sensitively controversial because the total share of all the SPLM factions shall be 93% and even more. Otherwise, the SPLM with all its disgruntled factions shall remain volatile as groups competing perpetually for power and wealth monopoly interests. Their differences and conflicts in offices might trickle down to their militarized guards where history of 13 December 2013 might repeat itself. This is where the presence of neutral forces in the capital could make sense of safety predictability.
The Addis Ababa II Agreement seems to have come back minus the past glory of the dinosauric SPLM. This is good news for germination of multiparty democracy in South Sudan as each of the divided factions of the SPLM will soon find better ways of organizing and coalescing with others politically. The SPLM shall finally be archived in historical records and given the necessary past credits. Congratulations to IGAD-Plus!
However, the “AGREEMENT ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT IN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN” has not been written on hard stone because it is subject to amendment (but based on some stringent legal procedures). This provision is an acknowledgement that it is not a perfection document as there could be unforeseeable difficulties of implementation ahead.
Although the signatory phase of the agreement shall be commended, the implementation phase shall still have its hiccups, especially from the security arrangements aspects. Some disgruntled politicians and splintered armed groups might still resist the spirit of the agreement and opt for disruptive saboteurs’ activities, thinking that they may have better gains for Other Armed Groups (OAGs) like what happened to late Gen. Paulino Matip during the implementation phase of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Perhaps, this is where arms embargos during the peace time would make some sense.
It is observable that the courage from the South Sudanese warlords comes only from guns and ammunitions. But they don’t have any capacity of manufacturing such lethal power. Also most of those who are threatening the lifeline of the agreement cannot have the same courage of Somalis even when they promise Somalization. I have never witnessed any South Sudanese putting a bomb on himself and getting out to a target un-shivering. Even those who are grinding their teeth now for seeing the President and other stakeholders signing an agreement that can bring peace back to the country will soon change their behavior and embrace sanity that usually comes with stability. Big attention should not be accorded to their unfounded threats because some of them are already known for cowardice and propaganda as they depend on others for courage.
The frontlines states (Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya) have already demonstrated commitment that they could help (collectively or individually) the Republic of South Sudan to be peaceful or to disintegrate totally if the rest of the world’s powers do not take the lead pragmatically beyond mere pronunciation of pressure and sanctions for spoilers of peace. Also South Africa, Tanzania, United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Norway, the People’s Republic of China, the African Union Commission, the United Nations Security Council and the European Union have not been folding their ends when it comes to the crisis in South Sudan. All of them have appended their signatures to be the guarantors of the agreement and would do whatever is at their disposal to ensure return of sanity of peace to South Sudan. However, what is critically required from these foreign powers is “The Responsibility while Protecting” the peace interests for the Republic of South Sudan and without conspiracy tactics or Plan Bs.
Viva for the upcoming of peace and justice to the born-again Republic of South Sudan!
Dr. James Okuk is lecturer and analyst in the area of politics. He can be reached