By Dr. Luka Biong
Sudan is now inviting the leaders of the region and AU to attend the signing ceremony of Khartoum Agreement on 26th July based on its last proposal that seems to be rejected by all parties. Khartoum should now learn that they can not impose agreement on SS and interesting Michael Makuei was so candid by stating that Minister of Foreign Affairs was misleading the region and international community. The real question is whether the parties will sign Khartoum proposal on 26th July?
Juba will have no reason to reject the proposal and it has succeeded in retaining Taban in the Presidency to weaken RM leadership in Nuer community. Although Juba was keen to maintain status quo in the national legislature, the current proposal will allow it to retain its loyal members of parliament. Concerning the number of states, Juba introduced 32 states to take the political show from RM and current Khartoum proposal is likely to recommend 23 former districts plus Abyei and Pibor or to revert to the three former regions of South Sudan. So Juba has no any reason not to sign the final proposal as its strategic interests of political survival are met in the the last proposal. One would wish if SK may resign voluntarily and allow Dr James Wani Igga to oversee the transition period. Dr Wani has provided exemplary leadership of sacrifices for the unity of SS and SPLM and he is a committed member of SPLM and truly believing in the agenda of the New Sudan political project and he is more loyal than any other members of JCE and other Dinka in government to protect SK if he decides to exist voluntarily.
The SPLM-IO has no any leverage to reject the final proposal as it addresses most of their concerns. As the regional support base of IO is in Khartoum, IO is less likely to defy any proposal from Khartoum. Having Taban Deng in the presidency should be seen by IO as positive in consolidating the power of Nuer in the government in the light of the grave loss they have endured during this conflict. Some generals in IO may be reluctant to accept the new proposal but they have limited options of defeating Juba militarily. RM may face the challenge of how to allocate the limited ministerial positions to various ethnic groups without losing his strong Nuer political base. Any miscalculation in allocating these ministerial positions and members of parliament may result in further division in IO. So, for sure IO either willingly or under duress will sign the Khartoum proposal. One would wish if RM would nominate somebody else rather than himself to fill the position of FVP; preferably his wife Angelina although she is not very popular in IO.
The SSOA are likely to sign the proposal that gives them key positions in the executive and parliament. For sure Thomas Cirilo and Governor Joseph Bakosoro may resist signing this proposal but for sure Changson, Dr Lam and Hussein Abdul Bagi and others who are dependent on support from Khartoum will have no any other option but to sign the proposal. The real question is how to allocate constitutional positions, particularly that of vice president. Although it may be ideal to have Dr Lam as appropriate for the position of the vice president because of his political weight but also to represent other ethnic groups in the presidency but the fact that he hails from the former Upper Nile may limit his chances. Governor Joseph Bakosoro who enjoys popularity in Equatoria and among young generation in SS and with strong political base in Western Equatoria may be more preferred for the position of vice president. Gen. Thomas Cirilo may have limited chances to assume the position of vice presidents as he hails from the same community of Dr Wani Igga.
The FDs as a political group has not only maintained their share in the power-sharing but even gained in having the additional position of vice president that would certainly go to Madam Rebecca and five members of parliament that will accommodate all of them. As such FDs may have no any justification for not signing the proposal. However, FDs are divided between those in government (Deng Alor, John Luk and Madut Biar) and those outside the government in Addis/Nairobi/Kampala (Kosti, Oyai, Gier, Majak and Cirino) and their leader Pagan in US. While those in government are likely to sign the proposal, their leader and those outside the government will be reluctant to sign the proposal. But simple political balance sheet suggests that the FDs may not have military might to make a difference but to act as catalyst in bridging gap between SPLM-IG and SPLM-IO. The political capital of FDs is eroding; particularly after signing the Khartoum Agreement and may deplete further if they get divided in signing the Khartoum proposal. So the FDs will sign the Khartoum proposal whether with the consent of all its members or without as it happened in the previous Khartoum agreement.
So it is within the interest of elites and “gun class” to sign the proposal of Khartoum on 26th July. I know and I do understand that most citizens of SS want peace at any cost (bad or good), but we should ask ourselves of what type of peace agreement that will be signed by parties on 26th July. Undoubtedly, it will be a peace that rewards those with guns rather the citizens of SS. When I was in Arusha in Tanzania a senior friend from Juba confided to me that the Dinka in Juba are just preparing to end presence of RM in the political scene in SS and some of my senior friends who came out of Khartoum confided to me how Nuer are determined to revenge for what happened in 2016. So we are destined to see another cycle of violence with this proposal that will be signed on 26th July. We may have peace signed on 26th July but it will not be a good peace and let us prepare ourselves for a new wave of violence.