It’s time to call off peace talks and declare regime change in South Sudan

By J. Nguen

The question today is not whether the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS) be revived or not, but rather, it’s whether those who invariably refuse the resuscitation of the agreement must be punished and held to account.

We know for certain that the ARCISS has collapsed on July 8th, 2016, when Dr Riek Machar was violently pushed out of Juba in what many analysts characterized as a “well-organized assassination” attempt on the life of a man who came to Juba to implement the peace agreement.

We also know that the region (IGAD) and the United States of America Administration under former president, Barack Hussein Obama sided with President Kiir’s regime and placed Dr Machar under house arrest in South Africa. These are tried cases but hit a dead end.

As a matter of fact, these desperate moves were falsely intended as shortcuts to end the contradictions and bring unfounded peace in South Sudan. Without any doubt, these fraudulent efforts failed in earnest. Instead, suffering worsen and civil war spread like a wildfire across South Sudan.

In addition, for a year and a half, President Kiir was licenced to rein terrors on the lives of innocent South Sudanese –free hand; while the world watched on, in deafening silence with no condemnations even on the moral ground. President Y. K. Museveni went as far as congratulating Salva Kiir for killing innocent South Sudanese. What a world!

Because of these hopeless contradictions, thousands of innocent of South Sudanese died in the mix. And this is tragic when a rogue regime is unleashed and left unchecked. In this regard, Salva Kiir’s regime went on rampage murdering, raping, displacing and destroying innocent South Sudanese’s lives and properties in this unscrupulous world of paradoxes.

After a year of extreme bloodshed, when no news was a good news when facts there were news of mass murders, raping, displacement and destruction of properties in South Sudan. When hope was so far and beyond reach.

Then, by default, President Donald J. Trump came to power in 2017 in U.S. Remarkably, President Trump saw the appalling flights of innocent souls in South Sudanese, in an unforgiving million ways and in the unforgivable world.

Then, President Trump moved by moral ground, he sent his top ambassador, Nikkie Haley to South Sudan to see developments, first hand. Amb. Haley was so disgusted and appalled by the flights of decomposing South Sudanese in IDP camps inside the country and in the refugee camps in the neighbouring countries.

Like any sane and moral human being, Haley was taken aback by the narrated stories and experience shared by the victims concerning Salva Kiir’s “scorch earth policy” of ethnic cleansing on all tribes in South Sudan with an exception of Dinka, where Kiir belongs.

For Trump’s administration, this experience revealed the ugly side of Kiir’s regime and the fact that Kiir doesn’t care about the life and suffering of South Sudanese. This revelation changed the course of President Trump’s administration and its approach toward the civil war in South Sudan. As a result, President Trump through Amb. Haley endorsed the resuscitation of the collapsed Peace Agreement in South Sudan in the name of High Level Revitalization Forum under IGAD.

As a result, on the 21st of December 2017, the Cessation of Hostility and unfettered Humanitarian Access Agreement was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. However, before irks went dry, President Kiir violated the agreement by sending his lieutenants and First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai on offensive in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States. As a result, thousands of civilians were displaced. And as I write, this violation continuous, which in many ways showcase that Kiir and his lieutenants in crime can never be persuaded peacefully.

Despite Kiir’s intransigence, on February 5th, 2018, the High-Level Revitalization Forum began. The aim of the talks is to ensure that peace return and prevail in South Sudan so the suffering of people ends. However, because President Kiir is so removed from the reality, so stubborn, and the fact that he does not care and fear no one, his troops continued to violate the Cessation of Hostility and restricted humanitarian access to the needy.

Not only that, the regime has arrogantly refused to follow through with the rules of the talks, by overcrowding the venue with un-commissioned personalities just to show defiance and arrogant. To make the matter worse, Kiir gave a middle finger to the IGAD, African Union, EU and Troika by refusing to sign the Declaration of Principles (DoP) for the talks.

Kiir’s delegation refused to sign the DoP on the ground that article 28 on the DoP, which states that “punitive measures” be taken against anyone found to be obstructing the implementation of the peace agreement, is unnecessary and not needed. In this regard, in my view, this is a fine and explicit defiance and test case for IGAD, AU and the Troika countries. It’s also a serious indication that Salva Kiir is not committed to any peaceful political settlement aimed to end South Sudan’s conflict.

Furthermore, the regime has today sentenced Mr James Gatdet Dak, former spokesman of Dr Riek Machar to 20 years life in prison and death by hanging. Note, this is happening while the region and the world are searching for peace to return to South Sudan.

Without any, these undertakings by Salva Kiir are aimed to derail any chance for peace in South Sudan. Salva Kiir rendered peace talks underway Ethiopia irrelevant and useless. The question, now is, why do we bother for something considered dead on arrival by one party to the conflict? Is this not waste of time and scarce resources?

In my opinion, moving forward with High-Level Revitalization Forum is irrelevant, at this point. Therefore, what must be done is moving forward, and to make sure that Salva Kiir listens, is a declaration of regime change agenda.

The prospect of the High-Level Revitalization Forum succeeding is highly minimal and limited. Salva Kiir’s regime has made it very difficult and revealed that he will not respect it.

With all these signs written on the wall, it’s time for the world at large to change course and abandon this delusional view that Salva Kiir and cohort might change their minds. President Kiir believes in military Solution and will not change his mind anytime soon, comes rain or sunshine.

As such, I proposed the following grand strategies and options to achieve desirable peace and positive outcomes for conflict in South Sudan:

1. That IGAD, AU, European Union and the Troika countries should immediately suspend peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It’s rather useless to force a donkey to drink when all the indications showed his/her unwillingness.

2. That Troika countries, European Union and the African Union must convene an urgent meeting of “coalition willing” with the Islamic Republic of Sudan, and requests the Khartoum authorities to immediately suspend transportation of South Sudan’s crude oil through its territories. In return, the Troika countries, EU, IGAD and the African Union will divert all the necessary aide distant for Juba but Khartoum

3. That IGAD, EU, AU and the Troika countries must immediately impose more targeted individual sanctions and travel ban on South Sudan government officials including President Salva Kiir himself and First Vice President Taban Deng.

4. That IGAD, European Union, African Union and the Troika countries must suspend all diplomatic ties with Juba immediately.

5. That Troika countries, EU, IGAD and the AU must immediately impose blanketed armed embargo on the Government of South Sudan and suspend all financial supports both military and bilateral cooperation with any Eastern and Northern Africa country found to be supporting or colluding Salva Kiir regime, even remotely.

6. That Troika countries, EU, AU and the IGAD must overwhelmingly support military “regime change” as the only option to depose Kiir regime from power.

These must be the option items to walk away with. Because, under the current political configuration in South Sudan, the region’s stability is under serious threat. Under Salva Kiir’s regime, the region is unlikely to be stable.

Evidently, South Sudan is currently a hotbed for the Al-Shabab’s financiers. Secondly, South Sudan Government is harbouring and supporting Ethiopian and the Sudanese negative forces -the rebel groups.

Therefore, with these indisputable facts, it’s imperative to note that “REGIME CHANGE” in South Sudan is ONLY the best option. It will bring needed peace in South Sudan and stability to the region.

J. Nguen is a South Sudanese political commentator, analyst and advocate living aboard. He can be reached at jamesnguen@gmail.com