“Committing mistakes is something human and sometimes inevitable. However, not learning from mistakes may suggest that something is fundamentally amiss because it subjects the individual, group, country or society to perpetually commit the same mistakes” Dr. Peter A. Nyaba
By Bol Khan
Wednesday 30 May 2018
What is IGAD’s imperative priority on South Sudan’s tedious peace revitalization process? Is IGAD aiming to bring about a peace accord that saves the lives of suffering ordinary people of South Sudan or a shaky peace deal that serves only the politicians’ interests? The HLRF’s Phase II that recently ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, without a signed deal was supposed to be the last round of South Sudan’s Peace talks. Ahead of time, the public leaked it that in case the delegates fail to reach a comprehensive deal by themselves until 21th of May 2018, then IGAD would be coming up with a neutral and moderate proposal to narrow the gaps between the parties. This was what in the mind of every South Sudanese citizen. However, unexpectedly, when the IGAD’s “Bridging Proposal” was out, circulated everybody was dumfounded including the author. I surprised and bewildered because the proposal squarely appeared as if South Sudanese’s politicians drafted it themselves, in their own interests.
The Politicians’ interests: Accommodative, large government that proposes benefits
The IGAD “Bridging Proposal” proposed an additional new position of Third Vice President, forty-two (42) ministers, fifteen (15) Deputy Ministers, four hundred and forty (440) members of Parliaments. A transitional poor government with five hundred and one (501) cabinet and parliament members excluding the Advisors, Council of States’ members, bureaucrats at the various ministries, heads of commissions and Directors…name them. Just assume the parties have accepted and signed IGAD’s Bridging Proposal”, how big would such a government be? Again, the IGAD proposed a six (6) member Transition Facilitation Council (TFC), monetary rewards for all those would be displaced persons from positions both in National and in the States governments. “Where, as a consequence of the allocation of positions under this agreement a post-holder is displaced from a post, the Transitional Government shall make every effort to find an alternative position for that person, including in the reconstituted boards and commissions as appropriate”. The proposal said: “the affected person may include: (a) A member of the Executive, (b) A Governor or other office holder in a State; and a member of TNL” (Transition National Legislature). “In the event that a person cannot be accommodated in a suitable alternative position, the Transitional Government shall endeavour to make an appropriate ex gratia payment or form of compensation to that person”. Generally, looking at the nature of proposed governance and security sectors, the IGAD did not only expose itself as a coalition that aims to create jobs or interests for politicians but also a regional bloc that might be unknowingly putting the lives of suffering ordinary South Sudanese citizens into further risk.
“Benefits and Standing of Former leaders”
Furthermore, the IGAD also proposed that a revitalized Transitional Government would work to give the benefits, incentive and standing of former leaders. “Within 30 days of the signing of this Agreement, Legislation shall be introduced in the TNLA to make adequate provision for the benefits, emoluments and standing of former leaders. Legislation shall provide for benefits of a former leader, including an office staff, protection and allocation of sufficient resource commensurate to their standing as leaders”. This increasingly casts much doubt in IGAD’s precedence in South Sudan’s peace revitalization process. Yes, it is not a dreadful idea to pay leaders benefits especially in stable countries where leaders serve the nation’s interests. However, in reality, what good thing have those leaders done so far and/or in the people of South Sudan’s interest than these immense damages they have been causing in South Sudan since 2013? They are not leaders of national stature. Therefore, the benefits IGAD’s “Bridging Proposal” proposed are all unnecessary. Instead, the proposed resources should only be used to rebuild the nation and lives of the ordinary citizens who are suffering or to provide them better security, development and peace dividends in the country, South Sudan.
Legitimacy: Who are the elected leaders in the Republic of South Sudan?
Who are the democratically elected and legitimate Leaders in the Republic of South Sudan? In other words, who is a democratically elected President, Parliamentarian or Governor in the Republic of South Sudan today? I think there is none because there were neither Executive nor parliamentarian elections ever conducted in the Republic of South Sudan since 2011! Hence, there is no legitimate leader today in the Republic of South Sudan who could have claimed that he/she is a democratically elected leader. Since 9 July 2011-21 May 2018, South Sudan has been operating under two sequence transitional rules of unelected governments. The first transition, interim and constitutional government (leaders) term in offices (after independent) ended on 21 May 2015. The second transition government provided by August 2015 Compromise Peace Agreement also ended on 17 May 2018. This is the reason why the ordinary people of South Sudan have been calling on IGAD to impose a peace solution that is South Sudanese ordinary citizens’ interest.
What is the interest of South Sudanese’s ordinary citizens?
The central interest of South Sudanese citizens is to have a better peace deal in South Sudan that addresses the root causes of the conflict. A deal, that holds all perpetrators accountable for atrocities they have committed as stipulated in a revitalizing ARCISS. The interest of the people is a peace agreement that does not reward politicians for atrocities they have had committed instead. A deal, that installs a responsible, balanced and lean (small sized) government to implement peace and security, restore the deteriorated economic situation, a sincere honest government that will unconditionally organize free and fair general elections at the end of the transitional period. The people of South Sudan have interested not in a shaky peace deal that its aim is just to renew the lifespan of politicians in offices at the expense of innocent citizens’ lives. The people of South Sudan do not want a precarious peace deal that shall be susceptible to their lives just like August 2015 Agreement.
With all this in mind, IGAD must acknowledge its proven failure in solving South Sudan’s crisis because of its complicity in the sufferings the South Sudanese ordinary citizens are facing today in and around the country. Therefore, IGAD needs to choose one of the following, forthwith: (a) Prioritize the interest of sufferings ordinary South Sudanese citizens by bringing peace back to South Sudan within one or two weeks, maximum; (b) Or hand over the South Sudan’s peace process to AU or UN, a global body. This is what the people of South Sudan are greatly yearning for. “Committing mistakes is something human and sometimes inevitable. However, not learning from mistakes may suggest that something is fundamentally amiss because it subjects the individual, group, country or society to perpetually commit the same mistakes”. IGAD should learn from the recent past mistakes, for instance, the lack of proper security arrangements, absolute impunity (no punitive measures being taken against peace violators) and imbalanced power that blocked smooth and successful implementation of August 2015 Peace Agreement. Where the transitional period agreed upon in 2015 become wasted three (3) years without stopping the sufferings of South Sudanese ordinary citizens both in the country and in neighbouring countries.
The author, Bol Khan, is a South Sudanese Activist and Freelance Writer. He is reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @khanrom8