R-ARCSS poised to collapse due to lack of funds and Ashraf Al Cardinal

By Peace Observatory Group

With millions of dollars from oil revenues being funneled to Ashraf Al Cardinal, the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) is in danger of collapse due to lack of funds.

As provided for in the R-ARCSS implementation matrix, cantonment of opposition forces which was supposed to have started within 30 days has not begun due to lack of funds; the Joint Transitional Security Committee (JTSC), which is a critical component of security arrangements is struggling to even hold meetings and travels to proposed cantonment sites due to lack of funds; demilitarization of civilian centers and collection of weapons that was slated to have been completed within 45 days has not begun due to lack of funds; training for unified forces to serve in the national army, police , security service or protection of VIPs – again a critical prerequisite for the arrival of opposition leaders to Juba- has not begun due to lack of funds. The list is long and, by no means, inexhaustive and if this situation continues until May this year, the hopes of the people of South Sudan for peace will have been terribly dashed. The people have really been patient with their leaders, especially H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit, who recently made a solemn public pledge to bring peace to his people at any cost. And to his credit, the President ordered his Cabinet over a month ago to allocate funds for the implementation of R-ARCSS. This was indeed a commendable move which gave the public a strong reason to hope that their Government was bent on mobilizing local rather than foreign resources to implement R-ARCSS. However, the public have now been surprised, shocked, disappointed and outraged to learn that the financial resources that are said to be unavailable for peace implementation – thereby saving lives of thousands of South Sudanese people- are now being readily and happily availed to one man called Ashraf Al Cardinal.

The people have really been patient with their leaders, especially H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit, who recently made a solemn public pledge to bring peace to his people at any cost. And to his credit, the President ordered his Cabinet over a month ago to allocate funds for the implementation of R-ARCSS. This was indeed a commendable move which gave the public a strong reason to hope that their Government was bent on mobilizing local rather than foreign resources to implement R-ARCSS. However, the public have now been surprised, shocked, disappointed and outraged to learn that the financial resources that are said to be unavailable for peace implementation – thereby saving lives of thousands of South Sudanese people- are now being readily and happily availed to one man called Ashraf Al Cardinal.

It is official that Al Cardinal has been awarded two contracts to the tune of USSD137, 005,000. And the award letters which are now in the public domain, were duly signed by none other than the Chairman of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC). The two contracts are for the supply 50,000 tons of Sorghum to Juba and Bahr el Ghazal worth USSD 42,500,000, and for the supply of 1000 vehicles to NPTC worth USSD 94,505,000 respectively. It is inconceivable that two mere commodities – namely sorghum and cars – have taken precedence over human lives as to deserve the spending of USSD 137 Million dollars. This is not only insulting but also seriously calls into question the commitment of leaders to peace. And just as the South Sudanese public was yet to recover from the shock of Al Cardinal’ siphoning of USSD 299 Million dollars late last year, and as if the scandal of awarding numerous crude oil cargoes to Al cardinal last year was not embarrassing enough, the latest funneling of funds that should have gone to peace operations to Al Cardinal, came to dampen any hopes for peace and perhaps sound the death knell for R-ARCSS.

It is inconceivable that two mere commodities – namely sorghum and cars – have taken precedence over human lives as to deserve the spending of USSD 137 Million dollars. This is not only insulting but also seriously calls into question the commitment of leaders to peace. And just as the South Sudanese public was yet to recover from the shock of Al Cardinal’ siphoning of USSD 299 Million dollars late last year, and as if the scandal of awarding numerous crude oil cargoes to Al cardinal last year was not embarrassing enough, the latest funneling of funds that should have gone to peace operations to Al Cardinal, came to dampen any hopes for peace and perhaps sound the death knell for R-ARCSS.

Notwithstanding this grave danger, it should be made loud and clear to whomever it may concern that the collapse of R-ARCSS must come with consequences.

To avoid those grave consequences, and to salvage any shred of trust that might have been left in the principal actors, we appeal to H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit to take urgent drastic measures that include, among others the following :

  1. Immediate relieve of the current Chairman of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) who is responsible for this embarrassing scandal. He cannot be a peacemaker and a spoiler at the same time.

  2. Ashraf Al Cardinal must be expelled from South Sudan and declared a persona non grata. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and Supreme Commander of Organized Forces, the President is undoubtedly aware of the alarming suicide rate among SPLA soldiers. In the last three weeks alone, seven soldiers have shot themselves in Juba as a result of frustration and anger over the worsening economic conditions and failure to feed their starving children. With the current public outrage over the endless looting of South Sudan by Al Cardinal, it is wise to keep him away from the public eyes, not only for his own good but also as a precautionary measure to ward off any potential conflict with the Sudan, should something happen to him. It is said that a hungry man is an angry man.

We appeal to the Governments of Troika countries, the United States, Great Britain and Norway to help the people of South Sudan by imposing a travel ban on Ashraf Al Cardinal and freezing his assets in Europe, America and Gulf countries. We join various South Sudanese civil society groups at home and in Diaspora in calling for immediate freezing of the money that he stole from South Sudan. That money should be used to finance the peace agreement in South Sudan, just as the stolen and frozen money of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was used for the reconstruction of Iraq.

This time around, the people of South Sudan are determined not to allow spoilers such as Ashraf Al Cardinal to deprive the country from the badly needed resources to implement the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). President Kiir must move very quickly to save R-ARCSS , and subsequently his country, from imminent collapse. It is no longer a secret that frustrated South Sudanese civil society organizations worldwide are coordinating closely to file cases against peace spoilers in South Sudan with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. From Geneva to New York and from Brussels to The Hague efforts, efforts are afoot to develop possible scenarios of indicting of R-ARCSS spoilers in the same way President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir was indicted.

***

South Sudan Peace Observatory Group

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