By Dut-machine de Mabior
South Sudan’s R-ARCISS is caught in a quagmire over uneffected provisions of security arrangements. Last report on the progress of pre-transitional arrangements by NDM halfway into the period was not any promising. Minimal to nothing has changed thus far and this has plunged Dr. Machar into requesting for more time on a return from the spiritual retreat in Vatican.
While President Salva has, this time, tried to show positive indicators towards his resolve to implement R-ARCISS through: peace celebration, reunion with FDs, Vatican visit among others, the slow pace at which security arrangements have been handled is a question that keeps lingering in the minds of critics in where to place him on the future of this revitalised peace accord.
The lifeline of peace agreements depend on security arrangements. Various examples can be cited including the 2015 ARCISS that collapsed upon the failure of security mechanisms to hold. Despite these glaring issues, all odds on Dr. Riek seem to indicate a possible unconditional return to the fold.
Firstly, IGAD has played into President Kiir’s bully tactics against his archrival. The South Africa detention that followed a victim of a $5-million hunt in 2016 fractured Riek’s strength in waging his war and consolidating his political base. Even though his lieutenants did well to seemingly fight him out of detention, the situation still haunted him even during the negotiations. SPLM-IO was super soft and their leader bulldozed his ideas into accepting a few clauses his negotiation team had objected to, including provisions of security arrangements. It’s understood he attended the peace celebration in Juba at his own risk, albeit, assurance from Bashir, his team objected to the idea; which he, anyway showed leadership and turned up. Detention that kept him for years in South Africa is not yet lifted and Riek’s desperation to end this lies in returning to Juba to assume his First Vice Presidency.
South Sudan being a kleptocracy, either sides of the coins need access to power to maintain their networks. In deep political crises and economic woes, President Salva perfected the games theory that ensured his loyalists remained susceptible to economic pangs of the “rebellious economy” to which he remains the sole rescuer. Dr. Riek’s base has been acutely fractured by Taban and he needs power to consolidate it ahead of politics and Juba’s return seems a possible panacea.
Bashir’s ouster has played into a big bad game for Dr. Machar and his IO. Eventualities of R-ARCISS had seen President Salva offering fatty oil deals to NCP regime, most probably, in the wake to lure Bashir on to his side. The game was getting more successful but Bashir being a war-smith, it could never have crossed any mind that he was not going to play his politics to sneak in his support for Machar to keep South Sudan unstable and agreeing with Kiir under the table to earn a living. Either way, only him could have sustained. As things stand in Khartoum, whether or not the incoming regime will lay with Machar or President Salva, the short term quick fixes might not accrue to anyone soonest. Dr. Riek will be on the losing end and Juba’s return looks a full plate to throw away.
War is fought on three main grounds: military might, diplomatic power and propaganda. Arguably, SPLM-IG out-powered IO. Winning battles is not considered as winning a war, there had to be R-ARCISS that gave Machar the proportionality of his dwindled military power. FDs had an upper hand in diplomacy leaving the Machar’s group in disarray with propaganda. The coalition between IG and FDs plays into R-ARCISS politics on a bad note for Machar. He risks being a spoiler upon losing the side of opposition that helped raised international eyebrows in dealing with President Salva. A possible isolation afar adding to IGAD’s lack of transparency is a huge risk to take.
R-ARCISS gives President Salva the peace he wants: one in which everyone surrenders to his mercy and he seems determined to stop at nothing short of this dream. It’s the probable reason he has shown humane attitude but yet outside the provisions of the document that’s meant to guide the country into peace. In a village court, Dr. Riek has a genuine case. However, politics is played through meaningful powers. Only the powers defined above check the activities of a rival. President Salva is on a comfortable end and the upcoming deliberations before IGAD may certainly settle the scores in his favour. He (Salva) should be transparent enough to do that which the agreement dictates but Riek has no enough power to push him into it. Since it’s politics and not some honesty game, Dr. Riek is right but will once again lose and end up in Juba regardless of Security Arrangements.