By Junior William Deng
It is now 19 years since Jamaican American born reggae star Shaggy sang “WASN’T Me” song and we are not sure, whether it was him or not who crept with the girl next door. This could be said about the R-ARCiSS extension, the government or SPLM-IO will be saying it, ‘wasn’t me’ should the entire peace process collapsed, citizens, regional and international stakeholders will ask who let the peace collapsed but none will be ready to accept the actions.
So, what does it mean?
It means that the extension will not be beneficial to the agreement but to the political interests of the parties in the conflict. Government has already expressed unwillingness to extend claiming that they are ready for full implementation of the peace ex ante but the opposition disagreed with the government on the fact that security arrangements have not been implemented to pave a way for the return of the opposition chief.
This, however, is not primarily essential to the government having known that they have military and economic power over opposition, they don’t want to come out clear but they are not ready to do anything other than letting the ink dry on the paper. Government will rather do what benefits them numerically in terms of man power by recruiting soldiers to compensate for the deficit created by the war and deploy to strategic areas or divisions before opposition comes( opposition is unlikely to come) and get its armed men and women cantoned anyhow. This is war preparation in short.
Conversely, Dr. Riek Machar, having been arrested in South Africa for two(2) years, have realized lack of military strength in terms of troops, ammunitions and funding and that in the back of his mind, Salva Kiir is not going anywhere or the regime has consolidated itself during his arrest and lack of military engagement on his side has created confidence on government troops, while his troops are less confident.
So, it is strategically important for Dr. Machar to create breathing space in terms of R-ARCiSS extension to regroup, remobilize, and renew ownership among his supporters and troops. He will also want to reach out for diplomatic support in the region and abroad. The extension makes sense on the side of SPLM-IO than Juba régime.
Failure to the implement the security arrangements, which is obviously going to be disembarked, military skirmishes or full blown out war will be fought by the end of the year or earlier next year and no party will accept its actions, all will be “it wasn’t me”, the blame will be generated to obliviousness.