By Stephen Par Kuol
Chairman of the SPLM (IO) National Committee for Foreign Relations
Your Excellent Ambassador Mesfin,
I must first and foremost express my sincere gratitude for the tremendous effort you put to the work for peace in my country. My two and half years experience sitting across the table with you and your highly competent IGAD mediation team was quite inspirational. Your intellectual and temperamental maturity to put up with our combative polemics throughout the period of peace talks that collapsed countless times cannot be commended enough. You came handy with your peace talks and bush diplomatic experience from the revolutionary days of EPRDF. From Addis Ababa to Deberzeit and Bar Dhar, I vividly remember the red tapes we overcame under your zealous leadership to address the fundamental root causes of the South Sudanese crisis. It leaves no doubt in my mind that you gave it all you could to produce the scientifically crafted document that culminated in the Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan ((ARCIS). Thank you very much for being Seyum Masfein. Like the Addis- Ababa agreement of 1972, our sisterly nation of Ethiopia did it again to help the people of South Sudan attain peace. Unfortunately, those who appended their signatures as guarantors did not do their part to nurse our brain -child (ARCISS). Instead of playing their role as stipulated in the agreement, they dishonored their own signatures by condoning Kiir’s intransigence from the word go. We were shocked to realize that the fascist dictator got away with every thing including the assassination attempt on the life of his First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny who was his principal partner to implement the ARCISS. You can be diplomatic about it but under your spontaneous breath, you know that it was a serious contempt to your own hard labor for peace in South Sudan and the leadership of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in the IGAD Region.
Ambassador Mesfin, this open letter is prompted by your recent media pronouncement that the ARCISS is a good agreement that must be implemented by the spirit and letter to fix South Sudan. I can not agree more with you on the salient fact that ARCISS is a good document that provides encompassing road map for institutional reforms, accountability for the crime committed during the war, national reconciliation and healing as well as democratization of the political process. I also agree with you that the agreement was imposed on the parties by the whole world. On our part as the opposition, the ARCISS did not meet most of our key demands, but it was an agreement we could live with. In truth, we made a number of painful concessions to put the interest of our people first. Our sincere commitment to peaceful settlement of the conflict was syndicated by our return to Juba under regional and international pressure without complete transitional security arrangement as stipulated in ARCISS Article 5(5.2,5&1.1.3). That was then militarily used against us by Kiir’s fascist regime without any condemnation from any of you the former mediators, the guarantors and other signatories who signed the document as witnesses. True, the ARCISS was imposed and precisely more so on President Salva Kiir who did not actually agree with us to resolve this conflict peacefully. The mere fact that the agreement was signed in two different cities at different times speaks volume of Kiir’s intransigence.
As for the failure at the implementation stage, simple logic dictates that if the signing was imposed, then the implementation should also have been imposed. Ironically, the guarantors and the regional powers who imposed the agreement abandoned their obligations to do the obvious. So, as we predicted, the implementation process was bound to fail and it did fail. Time has proven us right that the South Sudanese conflict has defeated the region and the world. Even the US Envoy, Ambassador Donald Booth publicly acknowledged the staggering failure of his government to resolve it. For one good thing, Salva Kiir did not hide his fascist intentions. He publicly declared that he would not implement an agreement he signed under duress. True to his words, Salva Kiir scrapped ARCISS in the full view of the world public and rejuvenated his despotic regime through intimidation of all the parties including the JMEC whose technocrats with the best institutional memory of the said agreement were declared persona non- grata within three weeks of the implementation phase. Subsequently, the poor JMEC succumbed to the whim of the regime, which eventually reduced its Chairman, President Festus Mogea to its mouthpiece.