South-Sudan’s R-ARCSS of September 2018: Failure by Design

By BenaYongo Bure


There is a lot of clamouring to save the defective South Sudanese Peace mediated by IGAD. The falling very far behind schedule of the implementation of the agreement is because Salva Kiir and his inner circles do not want the agreement implemented as its implementation undermines their holding to power. Although IGAD, through the biases of Bashir and Museveni, ignored all the numerous good suggestions many South Sudanese enthusiastically made to them, in favour of the position of the Kiir’s regime, Kiir and his inner circles are still not happy with some of the key provisions of the agreement. This is why they are not availing sufficient resources to implement the agreement.

The Kiir regime reports that oil production has increased and so is the collection of non-oil revenue. Why doesn’t the regime prioritize the implementation of the agreement in the allocation of the country’s resources? Why doesn’t it bring in the holdout groups to signing the peace agreement? The least Kiir could do is to implement a federal system, make a compromise on the number of states, and reduce the bloated planned government. How can South Sudan with a population of 12-15 million have 32 states almost the same number of states with Nigeria (36 states) with a population of over 190 million? The land area of South Sudan is estimated at 644,329 km2, while that of Nigeria is put at 923, 768 km2.

The main parts of the agreement the Kiir clique do not like include the establishment of a national army, a federal system, and the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. Kiir holds to power because of his tribal army and tribal militia. Creating a national army undermines his power and ethnic hegemony. Kiir and his ethnic bigots believe that the federal system will limit their tribesmen from establishing their colonies in non-Dinka areas such as Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal. The heavily armed Dinka pastoralists are all over Equatoria, preventing Equatorians who want to return to their homes from doing so. They have introduced cattle raiding in places that do not carry out such backward practices. They have even crossed into Uganda to raid for cattle; for example, in Moyo District of Uganda. Kiir and his inner circles know that they are prime candidates for the Hybrid Court as they are aware of the crimes they have committed. Therefore, they will not allow the envisaged Hybrid Court to be established.

Hence, if we want to bring a just, permanent, and sustainable peace to South Sudan, we might as well begin to plan for a new peace agreement without Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.

These two guys are not South Sudan, nor will the Dinka or Nuer not do without them in power. They have failed South Sudan and maintaining them in power is not being fair to the South Sudanese people. Even most Dinka and Nuer will fare better without both guys in government. There are only very few Dinka and Nuer elites benefiting from Kiir and Machar clinging to power. The ordinary Dinka and Nuer are suffering like most South Sudanese, in some cases even worse.

As of now, most non-Dinka have completely lost confidence in Salva Kiir and likewise, most Dinka’s do not trust Riek Machar. How can these guys bring forgiveness and unity among South Sudanese if most South Sudanese identify their suffering with the two men? 

I propose that, since the Bashir and Museveni IGAD peace agreement has virtually failed, we do not have to wait until May 2019 for the inevitable. Ethiopia and Kenya, members of IGAD, should lead a new IGAD initiative that will listen to the suggestions of most South Sudanese. Given the successes of regional peace initiatives by ECOWAS in West African and by SADC in Southern Africa; and the presence of Nigeria and South Africa in the IGAD process, Ethiopia and Kenya should link up with Nigeria and South Africa to bring sustainable peace to South Sudan. Such sustainable peace is only possible without SALVA KIIR and RIEK MACHAR being parties to it.

They have caused too much suffering to the South Sudanese people. And if they remain in power during the transitional period, they will either start another fight towards the end of the transitional period or rig the elections at the end of the transitional period or both. They have nothing new to offer South Sudan. They started with lots of resources and goodwill in 2005. What good have they done for South Sudan with all those resources and national, regional, and international goodwill? Nothing good except death, looting, and destruction.

The new transitional federal government should be headed by a collegial Presidency of three (3) people: one each from Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria, and Upper Nile. Each region willselecttheirmemberofthePresidency.TheChairofthePresidencywillrotate.The rotation will be decided by a lot (#s 1, 2, & 3). The members of the Presidency will not stand in the elections at the end of the transitional period. But they may stand in any other subsequent elections.

The cabinet will be run by professionals who have not been in any political position since 2005. The cabinet should be between 18 and 21 members distributed equally among Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria, and Upper Nile. Parliament will be limited to the 170 previous geographical constituencies.

A National Committee on State Creation will be established to transverse the whole country up to the county level to seek opinions on the division of the country into states. There should be an equal number of states in each of the three (3) regions. For example, we can have the four states in Bahr el Ghazal and create a fourth state in each of Equatoria and Upper Nile. Western Equatoria and Jonglei could each be divided into two states. Before the Kiir-Reik war, there were already voices calling for a second state in Western Equatoria. Jonglei, in its original form, was very large. These are some of the hypothetical examples. The committee will come up with various proposals and the most suitable one will be implemented subject to periodical review. The Report of the National Committee on State Creation will be thoroughly debated in parliament and then approved for the Presidency to sign.

The armed pastoralists who have invaded other people’s lands will have to return to their home territories. Such types of invasions are different from people migrating for opportunities outside their home areas. In cases of genuine migration, whole villages do not move to overwhelm other communities. People move as individuals. Neither do they move well-armed and begin terrorizing the natives by raiding their livestock and destroying farms. Such massive invasions lead to rapid environmental destruction. Moreover, in a traditional economy, where shifting cultivation is still practised, fallow land is needed for the vegetation to regenerate. Again in a subsistence economy, people need open land for hunting, and grass for thatching their houses.
Moreover, in areas where bee-keeping is practised, smoke from cattle camps ruin the industry as smoke and bees do go well together.

Anyway, why is it that heavily armed Dinka pastoralists are the only ones invading lands of other ethnic groups, while South Sudan has many pastoral ethnicities? How do the non-Dinka pastoralists continue to graze in their traditional lands? Where do the Dinka pastoralists acquire their heavy arms? These are obviously arms from the state. How can you qualify to be the president of the whole country if you are arming your tribesmen to annihilate other ethnicities so as to take over their lands? Surely, Salva Kiir has lost the moral grounds of being the president of South Sudan.

The other aspects of the R-ARCSS can be maintained. These include the creation of a national army, resettlement of internally displaced people (IDPs), the repatriation and resettlement of refugees, etc, etc. But there must be a focused short-term program for rehabilitation and reconstruction. Resources must be strictly guarded so that they are channelled to strategic areas that can assure quick recovery.

Once the right political setting is put in place and the individuals heading it are new, people can look forward to a new beginning. But not continuing with the same old figures who have disgraced themselves in the view of large portions of the country’s population.

Lastly, I want to remind South Sudanese that, right now there is no legitimate authority in South Sudan. We have a de-facto government. The legitimacy of all the elected institutions of South Sudan Government expired by July 2015. This legitimacy was derived from the election of 2010, which was based on the perspective of the REFERENDUM on separation. Now separation is a reality. We need to prepare for another election on how to build a peaceful and prosperous country. Nobody should capitalize on separation as his/her personal achievement. Virtually all South Sudanese wanted separation. This was why they tolerated the poor leadership of Kiir and Riek until the referendum was over without much complaint. They did not want to ruin the life-chance to vote in the referendum for separation.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa plus other caring African leaders, please come forward to spearhead a peace initiative to rescue South Sudan. There are many impartial South Sudanese who can assist you to help South Sudan. If you start a pro-people initiative, the international community will join you. But the wider world first wants to see what African leaders can do for their own people before they join in. South Sudanese look upon you as their leaders to rescue them. Both Salva Kiir and Riek Machar have failed South Sudanese. They have to be made to make way for new leadership of South Sudan.

The problem of South Sudan today is very poor tribalistic leadership without a vision for the whole country. Most South Sudanese will never regret separating from Sudan for the rulers of Sudan were no different from Kiir and his tribal bigots. There are many non-tribalistic South Sudanese who can give the country a bright future for all ethnicities as well as individuals.

Read a related piece: ‘‘ethnocide,’’ the Dinka strategy to achieve dominance and claim the lands of non-Dinka.