Public Service Announcement
Fellow South Sudanese!
The pre-transitional period of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) fast approaches its completion, with little in terms of progress to show as far as implementation of the provisions of the negotiated settlement is concerned. It is important to pause and asses the situation so that we may have a concrete understanding of the direction in which we are headed. The regime has embarked on a serious campaign to portray an image to the public that “peace has come”, as if it were anthropomorphized. The peace which our people yearn for will not come by plane nor by train, it will not come walking and knock on people’s doors; no! It is only through implementing the provisions of the Revitalized Agreement that we can start to create a conducive environment within which we can repair the damage caused by generations of wars against colonialism and slavery, and generations of inter-communal violence brought about by the consequent upheaval.
There will be no supernatural peace. New Jerusalem will not descend from the heavens and replace our broken country. If we are serious about peace, then we will have to roll up our sleeves and get into the tedious work of nation building. Nobody is going to come from outside to save us; fixing our country is no one’s responsibility but our own. As our late leader Dr. John Garang used to say: “people don’t help you because you’ve suffered long enough, people help you when they see their interest in you”. It would be careless for us to sit back and blame this and that regional or international actor for the predicament we find ourselves in as a people.
The following are a few points as a contribution to the national conversation:
The first thing our people must understand is that our country is divided. We are engaged in a fight to the bitter end with socio-political forces who want to maintain the status quo which has prevailed since the days of colonialism and slavery. The regime has made peace a zero-sum game.
1. Our civil population in the cattle camps and villages of South Sudan know that the SPLM government has failed them. This was declared by the members of the SPLM themselves when the Political Bureau dispatched its members to the grassroots level to thank our civil population for their invaluable contribution to the war effort. If these empty gestures of appreciation had been sincere, they would have been done in the form of development projects. It is natural that our people have seen through this and rejected it, and they declared that the SPLM had lost vision and direction.
2. The current civil war, as we are aware and is well documented, was caused by the regime’s fear of losing power through elections. The regime knows that if free and fair elections were held tomorrow, the majority of those in government today would not be reelected by their respective constituencies. There would be an infusion of new blood into the body politic.
3. It is very difficult for a kleptocratic, unpopular, gerontocracy to implement themselves out of power. The regime finds it difficult to implement even an agreement in which they have an upper hand. An agreement which was negotiated with them as player and as referee, as it were; and with Dr. Riek Machar in illegal detention. The regime fears the negotiated settlement because it culminates in elections at the end of the transitional period. The SPLM/SPLA (IO), the revolutionary movement leading the people’s war, are certain that we can win a landslide victory in these elections.
4. If we can remember our strategic approach to the conflict in the old Sudan, the historic SPLM/SPLA under the late Chairman defined the struggle as a function of four variables; the armed struggle, the negotiated settlement, popular uprising and international diplomatic pressure. The particular tactic to be employed would depend on the prevailing objective realities. We understand that non-violence is the most superior form of struggle; however, the struggle is determined by the realities on the ground and not the feelings which flow from our hearts.
5. The African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (commonly referred to as the Obasanjo Report), the United Nations Panel of Experts, Amnesty International, the Sentry Report and others have documented the atrocities of the regime and how they have looted our national wealth. They have misused the government monopoly on violence to terrorize our civil population and institute a culture of fear and silence. The current civil war is our people’s reaction to this repression and the SPLM/SPLA (IO) is the revolutionary leadership that has taken up the historic duty of organizing our people’s indignation into a national democratic revolution.
6. Our people should understand that the status quo, which has existed since the days of colonialism and slavery, is not an accident of history. There are interest groups in our country who profit from the state of affairs remaining the same and they will resist any attempts at fundamental change in our society. In order for our right of self-determination to be fully realized, these dark forces must be defeated.
7. The struggle to bring about fundamental change did not end when South Sudan gained independence. The independence of South Sudan only created new contradictions in the new socio-political dispensation we found ourselves in; Arabism in the old Sudan has now been replaced with Dinkaism. And just as the Arabs as a cultural group in the old Sudan never benefited from the political philosophy of Arabism in Khartoum, the Dinka as a linguistic and cultural group in South Sudan do not benefit from the philosophy of Dinkaism in Juba. What was known as awlad el beled (Sons of the Soil) in the old Sudan is now known as the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) in the new Republic of South Sudan. Their chauvinism is evident in their “we liberated you” mentality.
8. In their strategy of using peace as an
instrument of war, the regime has promoted peace as a supernatural occurrence; as if it will sweep the land like some kind of phenomenon and not something which we need to work for and work for seriously. Our people should not be deceived by this propaganda. There will be no peace in our country until we start to implement the provisions of the negotiated settlement. It is only through the peace process that we can arrive at peace; any other way is unscientific.
9. We must understand how the status quo is antagonistic to a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan. The only way we can have peace is through fundamental change in our society. This essentially means that the peace process is an integral part of our people’s struggle and indeed a tool that we must use to bring about this change and move away from the unbearable status quo. It is natural that those who profit from the current state of affairs would resist the peace process, because the implementation of the negotiated settlement will change our society forever. The hardliners around President Salva Kiir are working overtime to scuttle the peace process as they did in July 2016.
10. The leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) is fully committed to the peace process because it is the least costly way for our people to achieve their political objectives. The peace process is the transformation of the means of struggle from an armed struggle, to non-violent means of struggle- which is a superior means of struggle.
11. The hardliners in the regime know that if we follow the peace process to its logical conclusion, they would in essence be implementing themselves out of power and they would be replaced by a leadership chosen by the people. These traditional elites are doing all in their power to ensure that we remain in an open war of attrition, which is in their interest. The manner in which they profit from the war economy has been well documented in the Sentry Report and by the Documentary “The Profiteers” by Africa Uncensored.
12. This is the reason we are trying to revitalize the Agreement today; The traditional elite across the political divide managed to violently abrogate the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS). The United Nations Panel of Experts- in its report to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)- has documented how the then Chief of General Staff, Gen. Malang Awan and Director General of National Security, Akol Koor, directed regime forces to attack the SPLM/SPLA (IO) in July 2016. This resulted in the pursuit of Dr. Riek Machar through the jungles of South Sudan for forty days and forty nights until he was rescued by United Nations peace keeping forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
13. After failing to assassinate Dr. Riek Machar, the new regime which emerged after the collapse of the ARCSS used their privilege of incumbency- and the fact that they are mediators and party to the war- to dupe the world into believing that Dr. Riek Machar is the problem with South Sudan and his detention would solve everything. The hatred for Dr. Riek Machar was put above the national interest and international diplomatic pressure was used by the traditional elite to settle scores from the war of liberation. Despite all the talk of peace today, the detention without charge of the Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO), Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon- who is also the First Vice President Designate- continues in Khartoum, Sudan. This is a travesty of justice and a mockery of the peace process to say the least.
14. The pursuit of Dr. Riek Machar up to DRC was a botched assassination- it was a tactic to divert attention from the peace process and ensure that there is permanent war in our country. The plan of the hardliners in the regime was to celebrate the assassination of Dr. Riek Machar on the anniversary of the independence of the Republic of South Sudan.
15. Our people should be worried about the prospects for peace in our country. The regime has not implemented the security arrangements of the Agreement and they are already mounting diplomatic pressure on the SPLM/SPLA (IO) to go to Juba and form the transitional government by May. The regime knows that this is impossible. However, their strategy is to portray the SPLM/SPLA (IO) as the obstacle to peace. The recent attitude of the Minister of Information Michael Makuei- a known hardliner- is not one that inspires confidence in the peace process. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) cannot be given an ultimatum to go
to Juba before the security arrangements of the Agreement are implemented. The regime chose Independence Day in 2016 as their “D-day” to overthrow the Agreement; with SPLM Day coming up in May, our people should be very worried.
16. In 2015, the regime used Gen. Taban- who was then the Chief Negotiator of the SPLM/SPLA (IO)- to frustrate the security arrangements of the ARCSS. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) forces were illegally reduced from 3,970 to 1,375 troops. This time they have frustrated the cantonment and unification of forces process. The regime has not funded the Joint Defense Board (JDB), claiming they have no money for the implementation of the Agreement, yet they linked the resumption of oil production to the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement Between Parties of the Conflict in South Sudan (commonly known as the Khartoum Peace Agreement). The revenues the regime is getting from oil production should fund the peace process.
17. The regime has unilaterally decided that the implementation of the security arrangements is not important and they have shifted goal posts by proposing that VIP protection in Juba will be handled by a force of 700 troops, which is not in the Agreement. This is an attempt to frustrate the implementation of the security arrangements without which there is no Agreement; only surrender in disguise.
18. It is an open secret that the regime is engaged in forced recruitment in the former Warrap state, and this has come to the attention of the public because our civil population in Warrap have rejected it. The chiefs are speaking out and so are the intellectuals in the state. The oil revenues intended for peace have been diverted into the forced recruitment exercise. This plan was exposed recently by Mr. Bol Makwach, a South Sudanese concerned citizen working with refugees in the Protection of Civilians (PoC) center in Wau.
19. Knowing that the issue of land is an inflammatory one in our national discourse, the regime is trying to use the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) to legitimize the illegal 32 states, which is not only a violation of the ARCSS, but was a way to undermine the initial Agreement (2015) and now the current Agreement. The IBC and the National Dialogue Steering Committee are nothing but auxiliaries of the JCE. If the regime is not trying to scuttle the peace process, then we should return to the ten (10) states and a people driven process initiated to put the issue of land to rest once and for all. Such a process is catered for in the Agreement.
20. The late Chairman and Commander in Chief of the historic SPLM/SPLA, Dr. John Garang, taught us that the prospects for peace are directly related to the prospects for war. With the President- who is the incumbent- surrounded by hardliners, the prospects for peace in our country are very bleak. It is unfortunate that the regime has turned the peace process into a zero-sum game.
21. The status quo is untenable and bringing about fundamental change in our society is a matter of our survival as a people. The only way forward is in the complete implementation of the negotiated settlement in letter and in spirit; anything short of this is surrender to the status quo.
22. How long will peace-loving people of the world allow this charade to go on unabated? The peace-loving people in our region and in the wider international community should distance themselves from this barbaric, anti-people regime and side with the people of South Sudan. It has become abundantly clear- after squandering three transitional periods of peace processes and proudly presiding over a failed state- that insecurity is an industry for this regime. Their continued existence in power is to the detriment of the people of South Sudan and it threatens economic security in our region. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) shall take the fight to fulfil the promise of the liberation struggle to its logical conclusion.
A luta Continua!
Cpt. Mabior Garang de Mabior
23/03/2019 – 13:15