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Since war broke out in South Sudan in 2013, IGAD made several unsuccessful attempts to restore peace

Since war broke out in South Sudan in 2013, IGAD made several unsuccessful attempts to restore peace, this time around IGAD-Plus seem to hummer the odds; is peace really possible in South Sudan in August 2015?

By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

July 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- While writing this article, preparations are underway to reconvene peace talks between South Sudan warring parties. One’s purpose or specific intention to write this article, is to remind readers about the culture of negotiations, political compromises as well as the grave dangers laying ahead for the people of South Sudan if war continue to intensify. This time around, the sponsors of the upcoming peace talks had provided a serial sequential schedule that they termed as “the IGAD plus Peace Process Timetable”.

According to this sequential segmentation, IGAD Plus Envoys which is going to comprise with 19 members, will meet this week starting today on July 20 to 23, 2015 in order to acquaintance or served themselves with IGAD Plus Draft Peace Agreement proposal on South Sudan peace initiative. In their gathering, the team will approve the Draft or make any necessary changes pertaining peace proposal. Then, on July 24, 2015, the government of South Sudan and the SPLM/A-IO rebels will be called to converge in Addis Ababa to be served with the IGAD plus Draft Peace Agreement proposal. After a brief get together ceremony to mark the official start of the talks, the parties will be given 10 days to go over the draft and discuss it with their respective leaders in Pagak and Juba respectively. Hence, on August 5, 2015 the parties will be called back to Addis Ababa again to negotiate on the draft peace agreement proposals.  After both delegations reengage with mediators, two or three days later, they will be joined by their two Principals. The process of the negotiation is that, the two parties will negotiate to improve the text drafted by IGAD Plus and provide a better language which will be agreed by the two parties. If no agreement by the two parties, the language provided by IGAD Plus will be the one to remain and be signed.  On August 10 or so, the IGAD plus Summit will be called to witness the two parties’ signature to the Peace Agreement. Base on the above sequential timetable, one wonders, is peace really possible to be attained in South Sudan in August 2015?

Before one could dive deep to pin point some negative consequences, unwell defined peace could bring. It would be good to shade light on past negotiations. When the war broke out, envoys from Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda converged in Juba trying to find ways to help tackled the new nation crisis. Theirs and the international community pressure came to life when on January 6, 2014, government and rebel delegations met in Addis Ababa to iron out their differences so that peace come back to South Sudan.

First, the two delegations met separately with mediators at a hotel to pin down the points they would negotiate. Second, both sides met with the Ethiopian’s foreign minister for a ceremony to mark the official start of the talks before actual negotiation started. The urgency of the talks was so sensitive, given that guns were booming and many innocent lives were being lost.

In that early stage of negotiations, two warring parties were asked to present their grievances,rebels had three agendas, which were (1) release of the detainees, (2) withdrawal of foreign forces, including Ugandan, Darfur and SPLM-North fighters which Salva Kiir has invited to crash down Riek Machar’s rebels and that, (3) Salva must step down given the fact that he has lost legitimacy for ordering his private militias to massacre Nuer in Juba. To rebels, resolving these issues would clear the way for further discussions. However, government delegation carried only one agenda, which is “let Riek Machar surrender unconditionally so that peace return”. Then, IGAD mediators had only two items on their agenda, these are the cessation of hostilities and the status of the detainees in Juba. South Sudan government rejected all three rebel demands.

After lengthy discussions, the ceasefire deal was signed on Thursday January 23, 2014 by Nhial Deng Nhial the head of the government delegation and Taban Deng Gai head of the rebel delegations under watchful eyes of IGAD mediators and International community observers. Immediately, such deal was dishonored. The second and other sessions which including the closed door face to face talks between President Salva Kiir and the rebels’ leader Dr. Riek Machar ended up in Addis Ababa with disagreements on nine issues, declaration of permanent ceasefire, release of report of the Enquiry committee on Human rights, wealth sharing, settlement of debts, permanent constitution making process, dissolution of the current Assembly, power sharing establishment of national executive council and national council of ministers. It looks like the culture of political compromises have not been employed by the parties.

In any negotiation, you don’t get 100%. For example, during the CPA negotiation, discussions were heated on power sharing protocol where SPLM/A’s delegations were serious on the rotation of the presidency and how the capital Khartoum should be divided in half one side could be used as the seat of the government of southern Sudan and the other side as the seat of the Sudan government. The two parties agreed only on general principles for the power sharing in government which include conducting an election during the interim period. They couldn’t agree on rotating the presidency and splitting the capital.

After the peace talks had broken down, the next round of talks were scheduled to take place and General Sumbieywo introduce a new format to accelerate the pace of negotiations by involving the top leadership to break deadlock issues. He drafts the compromise plan and gives it to the parties for observation as a basis for discussion at the upcoming opening session similar to what is now being proposed. At that time, the SPLM/A accepted his compromise plan and the government rejected it. The government delegation denounced Sumbeiywo’s plan as hopelessly flawed which favored only SPLM/A position on separation and very soft on unity. Omar Hassan al Bashir complained that unity hasn’t been given much room. The document was strong on secession which is the only concession they must offer toward the end of the interim period. He also could not allow self-determination for the south if southerners are demanding such demands as splitting the capital Khartoum during the interim period. After bitter unproductive discussions, negotiators made up their mind to set aside some of documents.

In mid-August 2003, talks resumed again in Nanyuki Kenya where the two side immediately deadlocked by the issue of whether to continue talks on Nakuru’s document or a new document could be proposed as the basis of the negotiation. In order to break the deadlock, foreign minister of Kenya Kalonzo Musyoka suggest face to face discussions between top leaders of the parties to the negotiation; something Taha and Garang agreed to do. His suggestion was seconded by western observers; they thought that direct negotiation between Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and Dr. John Garang De-Mabior might accelerate the search for lasting peace in Sudan. The two leaders were locked up in direct negotiation at the tourist resort town of Naivasha, in central Kenya. At that juncture, there was no passing the torch to anyone else any more. The two leaders were facing each other on critical issues working on making progress or admit failures.

Profoundly, comprehensive Peace Agreement was entirely a complex document dealing with security arrangement, wealth sharing, and power sharing with modalities that included the Machakos protocol and the resolution of the conflict in three marginalized areas. Yet, the well-defined CPA tackled important differences between South and North.

In our current situation, one would assert without doubt that, South Sudanese have been sharply divided due to the bad leadership, systematic human rights abuses, war crimes, genocide and crime against humanity committed by the top leadership of the country. If South Sudan going to survive as a strong Federal democratic State, several needs should be addressed, which will include democratic constitution, flexible federal system of governance, and a democratically elected Transitional National Government based on secret ballet of one man/woman vote. Failure of creating viable Federal democratic State, the danger we are now longing to erase will resurface before the end of the tunnel.

Any political stumbling blocks in South Sudan that could occur during or after interim period, could produce more dangerous serious consequences which will yet affect civil population greatly. Without well-defined democratic political guarantees, there could be another outbreak of war between the tyranny regime in Juba and SPLA rebels. We all know the war in south Sudan has been described since its early inception as an ethnic tribal war, which involves ethno-centric hatred that led to target of one ethnic group. Failure to identify the main causes of the conflict as being gross of the lack of a permanent democratic constitution to guarantee safeguards for all citizens, lack of the good governance and the rule of law, and the persistent denial of access for minority of the South Sudanese tribes to the political and economic mainstream by one ethnic group, which had created nepotism as a mean to enrich themselves will result into another ugly political event in the country; which mean people of South Sudan will slip backward. In that regard, we shall not accept any settlement that falls short from creating “Federal Democratic Republic of South Sudan” that facilitate the creation of the rule of law, and provide equal socio-economic and educational development for all citizens. Exclusion of any group could trigger a bloody war. It is obvious that, there are still unhealed wounds in the hearts of many people who have lost loved ones in Juba massacre.

Literally, South Sudanese are divided, and the division between them is started from the top leadership through power struggle, political and ideological differences, and tribal loyalty and its primordial identifications. In that regard, South Sudanese nationalism is expressed in terms of tribe affiliation rather than as a unifying force to enhance the creation of the one national interest. There is lack of equitable power sharing, resources sharing, and the denial of some minority tribes to be included in political and economic beneficiary of the country. This indicate that retaining an undemocratic leader, criminal who ordered the massacre of innocent civilians who has nothing to do with the power struggle in the SPLM party, someone whose crime against humanity is suited for International Criminal Court indictment to continue ruling with iron fist is uglier than you could imagine.

However, in the culture of negotiations, unwanted resolutions are accepted in order to avoid further destruction. This assertion is solo for the sought of resolving the conflict constructively. It is noticeable that rebuilding trust under Salva Kiir is impossible, but, we need to move beyond the limit of impossibilities in order to settle this would be 20 months or two years old conflict. We also expect the murderous igniter of Juba massacre and his cronies, to concede to all reforms our movement had put forth such as the idea of Federalism, adding of 11 more States to the current 10 and amalgamation of the South Sudanese army just to name only a few. We expect him this time around to avoid some of his everyday vocabularies such as, “ I refuse, redline, if I die, his intransigence, how would you feel if I signed an agreement for two armies in the country? ; would you be happy?” and so forth. Failure to incorporate Federal Constitution that has basic laws to protect all citizens, granted human rights, and social equality for all, freedom of expression, press, assembly and other democratic values could undermine the legitimacy of the peace.

In summing, worldwide, agreements are signed and if these agreements aren’t well-defined and suited with the causes of the conflicts, dissipating, fragmentation, and dishonoring of the agreements is always nearer. In that regard, mediators are expected to be serious on efforts of democratization and address each group’s political grievance amicably. We need to keep in mind that South Sudan has been divided by tribal, political, and ideological differences; if there is any failure on the part of the IGAD-Plus in providing necessary needed change in the country in any agreement they wanted to impose on South Sudanese, the possibility of peace to be derailed away is far greater than we might have anticipated.

The author is a political commentator: he should be reach at either  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Editorial: Juba down on its knees, reining in crazy dollar

By Deng Vanang

July 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- With hope for peace either rising or dwindling, another dangerous weapon has additionally teamed up with the blazing and blaring guns’ barrels in South Sudan’s civil war. That is in dangerously falling money market, now driving Juba nuts while offering rebels some jaw-breaking laughter. 

Warning shots have already been aimed at the doomsayers predicting the collapse of terminally ill Juba government. First casualty on the list was Tony blazer, former UNMISS’ spokesman who secretly remarked an eminent economic death of the regime currently desperate for words of consolation than those that sink its ever depressing spirit.

War in this part of the world can be either way defending on where one happens to be.   A multi-facet adventure and equally laughing matter Africans reluctantly seem to regard as such.

For them, its declaration against enemy within or unfriendly neighbor is within just a split second unlike the first and the second worlds.

In those two worlds, the war takes energy and time consuming decision-making before it is declared. For as they know, war involves high costs requiring full pledged war council commissioned with the duty to weigh whether or not it is a viable option.

While in the heat of taking such decision, rockets may probably be whizzing overhead but this is not to upset the Council which level headedly and dutifully continues with focus in juggling pros and cons of choosing between an outright war and diplomacy.

Among the costs council considers if war becomes unavoidable option are the state of country’s economy and population to sustain it.

The kind of sophisticated weaponries come a long way in serious deliberation to wage and wind war or at least defend the country from being run over. How expensive these weapons are within the reach of healthy public purse. The longer the war may take and possible allies to come by to one’s aid should the enemy’s martial prowess proves overwhelming, are just few of even more unnamed costs.

These are not however issues to consider by African or third world’s leaders before war can be solemnly declared. Since even to their understanding on the contrary the war has its benefits, making it a highly sought for lucrative venture which offers an alibi for poor performance.

Its urge therefore, outweighs the quest for diplomacy that demands fairly fewer resources than an open warfare.

Why war is their most preferred option has several reasons than they can be numbered. To them, it covers up failures with several opportunities since it is cheaper to handle peoples’ expectations at war time than at peace’s time.

The war diverts attention of curious populace jittery about leaders’ poor performance. It more over gives the leaders the singularly ready-made answer to too many questions from the populace as to why they poorly perform. All resources being thrown to a war gamble is that ready – made answer from the publicly quizzed leaders.

As the war progresses, it makes them to loot more money unnoticed under the pretext of war costs which are hardly known to the populace already scattered and on the run helter- skelter.

Government’s top administrators in the war zones run a booming war economy, especially in pocketing the salaries of deserted or defected servicemen and civil servants without having to report to the headquarters.

Finally, war indefinitely extends term limits, a boon for unpopular leaders to continue staying and enjoying the cozy Presidential palaces. The strategy relieves them of pain against facing an otherwise hostile electorate, unpredictable elections and their grueling campaigns.

But for South Sudanese who try to slice a bit of good life while leaders have their taste of power after a long absence of these goodies, number one reason doesn’t apply for those still expecting salaries and incentives behind the battle lines of both divides.

War tolls may hardly pass by unnoticed with many families descending down from previously high ivory towers in which they lived to mud-walled shacks. While others might already have their mad rash to secure plastic sheeting spaces in sprawling camps in and outside the country.

Many sickly patients discharged from hospitals mid-way in deathbeds or to recovery. With school going children pulled out of their tenacious grip with future.

All the aforementioned pressing concerns point to one and the same reason that South Sudan’s economy is giving way to about two years’ old officially declared civil war with its many and so severe casualties now rising on and off the pitch.

That is towns are covered with sky billowing dust as fish ponds like pot holes dotted the dilapidated roads. Scarce public transport vehicles couldn’t longer meet the increasing influx into Juba of rural poor facing crashing poverty on the country’s economic margins.

Juba bathing in the heat of over 40 degrees Celsius daily is now a closer thing to hell since it is not less than an oven that fries and melts everything thrown on it.

While shrinking oil fields accounting to 98% of total country’s GDP give new headache to Juba government currently declared by both rebels and US a legal nullity.

This resultantly creates yawning deficit in the national budget that is struggling to foot monthly salaries of public officials, now worst hit unlike their peers in rebel ranks only expectant of the future.

Though may be finally paid out in periods far and between, these salaries in South Sudanese pounds when remitted to families living in East Africa or abroad face depreciating Dollar exchange rate now fluctuating between 1200 SSP and 1250 SSP per 100 Dollars.

These biting economic conditions are not only confined in South Sudan but also spilled over across regional borders.

They create multi-million Dollars deficits in the annual budgets of both Uganda and Sudan. Troops of these countries are accused of helping each other rebels with whoever eventually controls South Sudan bags the ultimate victory.

Investors too, both local and foreign, can’t continue with business as usual to serve the need of those still in government controlled areas due to the same worrying high exchange rate of Dollars government scarcely has. This is in despite of boosting its Dollar worthiness by raising visa’s value to hundred Dollars per a single entry into South Sudan.

Meaning, investors don’t have enough Dollars to buy goods and ferry in. And in event some become lucky in getting sufficiently enough, their goods bought in Dollars and later sold in Pounds, deliver more loss than required profit, making business and trade a lot more frustrating and unrewardingly meaningless.

This explains why most water and beverages industries are fatally knocked into a prolonged coma as the rest went down blow the violent waves of indefinite work boycotts, threatening a massive return to the already polluted Nile water for drinking, with knock on effects coming fast and furious on their way.

Such like water borne diseases and too many losing jobs with an alarming rapidity in business sector apart from making it do without salaries. The financial crunch may not even spare previously cash-proofed public sector, especially the army and foreign troops that have substantially offered a considerable lifeline to moribund Juba’s government.

But it is a situation victims have to put up with and not show slightest of complaint in order to safely avoid flying live bullets as the government publicly warned in the past of having no rubber ones to face off with would be street demonstrators.

Don’t ask what has become of Juba’s once pompously declared pet infrastructural projects now turned white elephant. That ‘’what question’’ is reflective of similar economic meltdown which has so far sent the government into frenzy of scrambling for options so as to turn the deadly rising tide.

One among many is sending one legion after another of well-armed battalions to the killing fields in Unity State so as to maintain momentum in the recaptured lucrative oil fields previously lost to the rebels.

Negotiating with East African countries on fixed currency rates with South Sudanese Pounds is one more alternative in a package of desperately touted economic measures.

That one measure is too good to be true since it may return the country to good old days when one South Sudanese pound was equivalent to 650 Uganda shillings or 25 Kenya shillings.

The move will equally make crazy demand for Dollars unnecessary. Though, its success will largely depend on benevolence of East African countries to accept economic loss so monumental for the good of their needy north eastern neighbor, South Sudan.

While South Sudan’s continuity to get enough South Sudanese Pounds to be able to exchange with East African currencies, as general money shortage in a near empty public coffer is increasingly alarming, remains to be seen.

Last option in worst case scenario, as public rumor has it, is the country diving under the auctioneer’s hammer for the highest bidder among the East African Community member states. That is in a sort of political union apparently to be reached between Juba and Kampala. The move may favorably work for the latter while becomes a loss of former’s sovereignty, hard earned just four years ago.

If the latter option proves truly successfulit will explain how hate has run so high between SPLM/A’s rival siblings proofed up on the laps of the perennial enemy tribes in South Sudan to the point of surrendering the country to a foreign pauper than make mutually accommodative peace with each other.

Deng Vanang, is a Journalist and Author of a book: South Sudan the Making of a Nation, a Journey from Ethnic Polities to Self-rule, State and Democracy. He can be reached This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Our Hero, a Veteran of Koryom Battalion has left us

By John Adoor Deng, Australia

July 20, 2015 (SSNA) -- While still mourning for my beloved brother Abraham N. Deng who passed away on Sunday 12th July 2015, I would like to take courage beyond mourning to shade light on his national contribution and how he died agonising for the country he fought hard. Abraham Ngon Deng, who was nicknamed in his military, might as Chau- ku -Jo hoou, meaning pouring/releasing bullets with loud sound during battles, Abraham Ngon Deng died in Juba surrounded by his children, wives, brothers, nephew and cousins. 

On family level, we lost a brother, father, uncle who cares for all  and who followed the footsteps of his great father Deng Ngon Deng Mayen, who was well-known  for courage, bravery and for sharing his wealth with all people especially the needed in the greater Bor and beyond. As a family that holds Christian values and believe in God almighty, we have the comfort of Holy Scriptures that make death a thing beyond our human control. We have been taught to believe that God dictates who to bring to the world, and He solely decides who to take back on His timing. It is very painful to my young children to have lost their uncle whom they only knew of the phone conversation, but rarely on physical appearance. However, spiritually, we still have a chance to meet him in the heavenly realm.

On the national level, my elder is a hero; he fought the war that brought the independence of the Republic of South Sudan.  As a newly married man, my brother left his young family to join the rebellion in 1983.  He was made an artillery holder, a gun known as 46 and fought in numerous battles.  He survived thousands of battles and ambushes around strategic towns in South Sudan. He was wounded on several occasions, Abraham would only take a few days off to have the wound healed but returned to battles.

Until 2005 when peace was signed, Abraham Ngon Deng was well valued in the army but after the peace agreement. Abraham was laid off from active military, transferred to the police service, demoted from his rank just to award few militias and former NCP converts that were integrated into their unit.  He tabled his complained to relevant authorities, but nobody took an interest in his petition. When he realised that he was neglected by some of the senior colleagues, he fought the war with, during the struggle, my brother joined the unit of wounded heroes and accepted low rank. This is the unit where his death met him.

I can in this respect, say that my brother died agonising for the country he fought hard to liberate.  He did not found the respect he deserved for the sacrifices he made during the liberation struggle. My brother’s case is icebergs of the greatest suffering our heroes continue to face in South Sudan.  I may recall John Garang‘s prophetic statement when he said:

“Our blood will be shed because I hate oppression and marginalization of our people, but I will not even enjoy the fruits of this struggle. There are people sleeping comfortably right now, they don’t know the hunger or the sound of a gun. After our job is done that generation will take over; they will cut a large piece of land with pangas and sell it cheaply for a bottle of beer (Dr John Garang De Mabior, speech 1992).”

This is true of my brother story; he shaded much of his blood, but only those who were enjoying themselves elsewhere are now the kings consuming national resources like fire. If South Sudan has to be a country of fair goes, it must render services to all people that deserve the services including or great heroes and heroines.

The Author, John Adoor Deng, is a younger brother of late Abraham Ngon Ngon. He is the author of soon to be published a book, entitle:  The De-Ethnicization of South Sudan Politics in the 21st Century. He can reaches by email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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