By Capt. Mabior Garang de Mabior
Public Service Announcement
Why The SPLM/SPLA (IO) Signed the Agreement in Khartoum and the false claims that we have surrendered
Fellow South Sudanese!
This announcement serves as a clarification to our people. It is intended to dispel the malicious rumors that the SPLM/SPLA (IO) has surrendered to the regime and is conducting joint operations with the regime against our civil population in Yei. This is a fabrication by the hardliners in the regime, intended to derail the peace process. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) has not joined the regime; the government are our partners in peace. Our agenda with the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) still remains to dismantle the status quo. The propaganda machine of the regime is working overtime to portray the SPLM/SPLA (IO) as having surrendered to them since they have managed to convince some of the other stakeholders to abscond their responsibilities to the negotiated settlement. Apart from the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan- who are stakeholders through the religious groups- no other stakeholders are pointing out the lack of progress with regards to the implementation of the Agreement. The following are a few points of contribution to the national conversation:
1. The most recent propaganda, which is gaining traction in our national conversation, is a lie being peddled by enemies of peace suggesting that the Peoples Movement, the SPLM/SPLA (IO), have surrendered to the regime. This is not true!
2. Our Movement has signed the R-ARCSS as a compromise and the least costly way to end the suffering of our people. We have signed the Agreement and are committed to it despite the fact that it is not a good agreement, because we are confident that we can defeat the regime in the elections scheduled for the end of the transitional period.
3. The people of South Sudan are aware that the catalyst to the current civil war was the regime’s fear of losing power to the people through the democratic process. This fear has not subsided and it is the reason the regime has been resisting any efforts to implement the agreement.
4. We have not surrendered. As mentioned above, the SPLM/SPLA (IO) and the SPLM/SPLA (IG) are partners in peace. In the absence of a negotiated settlement the parties are at war, but the SPLM/SPLA (IO) believes that peaceful means of struggle are superior to armed struggle.
5. We should understand that our civil population is not engaged in armed struggle because they enjoy it; no! Our civil population did not initiate the cycle of violence that was the catalyst to this civil war. The African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (commonly referred to as the Obasanjo Report), has already detailed what caused the war- it will not help anything to repeat it here.
6. The choice between armed and non-violent struggle is clear to the revolutionary leadership of the people’s struggle against an anti-people regime. We have signed the R-ARCSS as a way to transform our method of struggle to a non-violent one. Our objective still remains the dismantling of the status quo, be it through armed struggle or through the ballot box.
7. Peace will not be restored to our country through supernatural powers; there are not enough pious proclamations, no matter how well intended, that can bring peace. The reason we have failed to find “peace” is not that Dr. Riek Machar has refused it to come into his heart- and if only he could have it in his heart, we would find peace. This is part of the regime’s propaganda. The only way we can restore peace in our country is through our people having the chance to choose their leaders in a free and fair election, after implementing the provisions of the Agreement.
8. The implementation of the Agreement will ensure the end of the suffering of our people by concentrating power back in their hands. The unpopular traditional elite will resist this and so it is important for us to understand that the peace process is not a magical event but a transformation of the struggle. If the revolutionary forces in our country don’t realize this, then those who want to maintain the status quo will use the Agreement to ensure the existing state of affairs continues.
9. In their desperate struggle to survive, the regime has used wanton violence and diplomacy in a kind of double envelopment to try and defeat the SPLM/SPLA (IO). The regime is using military means coupled with diplomacy and their privilege of incumbency as a weapon to isolate the leadership of the people’s Movement.
10. The regime has used various methods to deceive the world about the reality of what is happening in the Republic of South Sudan. By far the most successful has been their misuse of the legacy of the struggle for independence; portraying themselves as “liberators”.
How has the regime used diplomacy to undermine peace?
11. After the outbreak of war in December 2013, the entire Greater Upper Nile Region had fallen to the resistance, as the SPLM/SPLA (IO) had not yet been formed. This was the situation in January 23, 2014 when the first Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoH) was signed. By May 9, 2014, when the second CoH (rededication) was signed, the regime had retaken the areas controlled by the resistance- popularly known by this time as “The I.O.” It is obvious in this scenario that it was the regime who violated the CoH; however, to this day the regime has never faced any punitive measures for these blatant violations; instead we hear blanket condemnations. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) was not forming a new country and had the regime focused on peaceful means to end the conflict instead of military means, then it would not matter which area was controlled by which force- the agreement would ultimately bring us together.
12. This privilege the regime enjoys has made them intransigent in the peace process and even allowed them to carry out a coup on the 2015 Agreement, which we are trying to revitalize today. Again, there is no need to go into the details of this; it suffices to say that there is a letter from the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) detailing this coup. Still, the regime has never faced punitive measures. Instead, they colluded with certain allies in the region to convince the world that the detention of Dr. Riek Machar and the isolation of the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) would solve everything. This led to the illegal detention of the Chairman and Commander in Chief of the People’s Movement in South Africa, and it continues to this day in Khartoum, Sudan. How long will the region allow this anti-people regime to continue causing instability in the region?
13. Our Movement has done everything in its power to show that we are for peace. The Movement has been open for talks with the regime since January 3, 2014 barely a month after the outbreak of a war which was imposed on us. Despite the regime’s intransigence throughout the peace process and their continuous violations of CoH and ceasefire agreements with impunity, the SPLM/SPLA (IO) has continued to negotiate with the regime. Even while our Chairman and Commander in Chief is still in illegal detention, we have continued to negotiate, knowing as the great Madiba once pointed out: “only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts”. The fact that the regime and her military allies are party to the conflict while being mediators at the same time has allowed them to create a situation in which they are negotiating with a prisoner. These facts make the peace process a sham. A genuine peace process would not have the regime and her allies as player and referee; and the Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPM/SPLA (IO) – Dr. Riek Machar Teny, would have been released unconditionally as part of building confidence in the peace process. Unfortunately, the regime is being allowed to get away with using peace as an instrument of war.
14. The regime’s latest attempt to undermine the Agreement is to confuse the public regarding the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement Between Parties of the Conflict in South Sudan (commonly known as the Khartoum Peace Agreement). The regime has tried to sell the Khartoum Peace Agreement as a separate deal from the Agreement negotiated in Addis Ababa during the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF). The regime tried to arouse the negative sentiments from our past history by suggesting that the SPLM/SPLA(IO) was colluding with Sudan to undermine our independence. All along, the regime was negotiating a deal to resume oil production prior to the start of the implementation of the Agreement. The regime also tried to include a provision in the Agreement for South Sudan to have three capital cities and for the deployment of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) in our territory. We rejected this and only signed after amendments were made. We should understand that the Khartoum Peace Agreement was not a separate deal, it was a rededication to the Agreements reached in Addis Ababa because the regime had refused to sign the Declaration of Principles (DoP) in February 2018.
15. The regime is not for peace and their only objective in the peace process is to portray the SPLM/SPLA (IO) as the obstacle to peace. This is despite the fact that the regime has not implemented most of the provisions of the Agreement -citing lack of funds- even though oil production has resumed and they are issuing wasteful contracts. Even provisions which do not require funding; like the lifting of the state of emergency, the demilitarization of Juba, or the release of political detainees such as Dong Luak, Aggrey Idri and Dr. Peter Biar Ajak, are yet to be achieved. The fact that the regime has not done these simple things shows that they have no intention of implementing the Agreement. The regime has turned the implementation of the Agreement into peace celebrations and they are labeling anyone who points out the challenges being faced in the implementation as anti-peace. The regime has managed through various means to recruit some of the opposition figures, who are now silent about the regime’s intransigence.
16. Thank God Almighty that the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan have come out with a strong statement detailing these challenges faced by the peace process. The survival of the peace process depends on more stakeholders standing up for the agreement- which is in danger from the traditional elites who want to maintain the status quo.
17. Our people should understand that the Khartoum Peace Agreement was designed through the influence of the regime, to trap the SPLM/SPLA (IO) in a plot to portray our Movement as anti-peace. It is an Agreement that gives the regime the upper hand in terms of power sharing and the security arrangements are weaker than in the previous Agreement. The flawed nature of the mediation has allowed the regime to impose her will on whatever document that comes out of the mediation process. We have signed the Agreement in spite of all these contradictions because we can see through the regime’s gimmicks. We know the regime has no intention to implement and if they do, we are confident we can defeat them in elections and peace is a win-win.
18. The regime and her allies in the war and within the mediation have been trying hard for a long time to have the SPLM/SPLA (IO) declared as a terrorist organization. Ironically, they have put more effort into this than they have in genuinely engaging the Movement in ways we can fix our broken country. As mentioned, the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (commonly referred to as the Obasanjo Report) has detailed the atrocities of the regime. The UN Panel of Experts has also documented how the regime committed atrocities in Wau and ultimately attacked the SPLM/SPLA (IO), as reported to UNSC. The regime was hoping we would not sign the Agreement so that they could turn around and lobby peace loving people in the region to declare the Movement as a terrorist organization. This has failed because it is a known fact that it is the regime who are using terror to institute a culture of fear in our country. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) shall never be defeated because it is the revolutionary Movement of the people’s resistance against a brutal regime, whose atrocities are well documented.
19. Had the SPLM/SPLA (IO) not signed the Agreement, we would not have been treated the way other so-called opposition groups who have not signed have been treated; with the mediation team doing all in its power to include them in the Agreement. Even though the so-called opposition are colluding with the regime to undermine the SPLM/SPLA (IO), it is the struggle of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) that gives them relevance. It is only the SPLM/SPLA (IO) that has successfully resisted the onslaught of the regime on our civil population and created a situation in which the regime has accepted dialogue. But for the struggle being waged by the people’s movement, we may have totally lost our freedom.
20. The people of South Sudan should dismiss the malicious rumors being peddled by the traditional elites on either side of the political divide. This latest misinformation is being propagated by the National Salvation Front (NAS), who purport that the SPLM/SPLA (IO) is conducting joint military operations with the regime’s forces against them. The truth however, is that the NAS has never once attacked the regime’s forces; they have instead been fighting the people’s movement. The NAS is trying to gain cheap popularity through their refusal to sign the Agreement. They want to claim to represent the interests of our people yet their military presence is of no real consequence to the regime. The regime had requested the SPLM/SPLA (IO) to engage in joint operations and the movement categorically rejected this. Our people should know that it is the NAS who are attacking the SPLM/SPLA(IO) positions and who have refused to ally themselves with the People’s Movement because of their belief that the SPLM/SPLA (IO) is a Nuer movement and should be dislodged from Equatoria. They had hoped to cause a split in the Movement based on these grounds, but they have failed. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) in Equatoria is composed primarily of our civil population in Equatoria.
21. The NAS is a separatist movement. The fact that they are fighting the people’s movement, yet they have never fought the regime and its propaganda on the ground- which preaches that the Nuer and the Dinka should leave Equatoria- is proof they are separatists. This is being done in the hope of arousing negative tribal sentiments- as a means of gaining popularity to be used for mobilization. The fact that NAS does not use the national symbols of our Republic also betrays their true separatist nature.
22. The people of South Sudan should rest assured that the Movement shall wage the struggle of our people for federalism to its logical conclusion. If there are individuals who defect and join the regime, it does not mean the entire movement has surrendered. We shall ensure that the promise of the liberation struggle is fulfilled. In the words of the great freedom fighter El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz: “by the bullet or by the ballot”, victory is certain.
A luta continua!
Mabior Garang de Mabior
08/03/2019 – 12:30 Hrs.