By Wesley Kosa
On April, Pope Francis invited the South Sudanese parties for a spiritual retreat, to narrow the gap between them as they get closer to the dateline for the formation of the government of national unity. The gap which was to be narrowed is too wide to be narrowed most to the pretransitional arrangement, were deliberately not been honoured by the government. During the retreat Pope, Francis kissed the feet of all the parties including president Kiir. The kissing of the feet signifies humility displayed by Jesus Christ when he washed the feet of His disciples even though He knew that one of them is going to betray Him. According to the Bible, Judas who betrayed Jesus was overwhelmed by guilt, he never survived. President Kiir at the very moment Pope Francis was kissing his feet knew that he is not ready for genuine peace in South Sudan, what he stands for the continuation of status quo.
South Sudan conflict began as a result of Dr Machar excising his democratic rights, to request for the most needed reforms in both the SPLM party and the government. The intention was clear and it was largely embraced by the South Sudanese people but to president Kiir, this was Dr.Machar’s capital crime that he deserves to die to this day. The request for reform came as the country is clearly sliding down towards total failure. President Kiir saw this as a regime change strategy and immediately reacted by framing Dr Machar with an attempted coup and ordered Machar’s elimination. This was the beginning of the conflict in South Sudan. To this day, president Kiir never at anytime reversed is sentiment against Dr Machar that is why he will honestly accept any peace deal. All what is happening is merely a delay tactics before the next war starts.
Since the beginning of the conflict in South Sudan, several attempts were made to bring about lasting peace in South Sudan, but they all failed because president Kiir believes in military solution, he wanted the continuation of the status quo and he has never overcome the idea that Dr Machar is his only problem and that he has to die. That is why for president Kiir, the peace agreement is only to bring his most wanted enemy home to meet his fate. That is why, as long as president Kiir is the head of state, there will be no viable peace, all what the world will always see the clandestine peace that will not deliver the real peace to the people of South Sudan.
All those attempts to bring about lasting peace to South Sudan were dishonoured by the president, in both occasions he tried to assassinate Dr Machar and there is no grantee he will not try again this time around. In Juba, the president has already started to prepare to dishonour the Khartoum peace agreement, instead of demilitarizing Juba, the government is busy moving in troops to Juba. The government is busy recruiting fighters, they never have begun the reunification of the army as stated in the agreement. Since the signing of Khartoum agreement, the government has never shown any interest in implementing it, Kiir only once in a while will give some lame excuses. All this is the sign of the storm gathering and it will not be long before the world witness another genocide. The cold blood killing of these two brilliant and brave sons of South Sudan, Mr.Dong Samuel Luak and Mr Aggrey Izbon Idri illustrates Kiir’s terror policy of silencing voices of reasoning and it signifies the regimes anti-peace policies.
There is nothing that can stop the government from carrying out their plan because there have dishonoured the agreement over and over again with no consequence from either regional or international community. Since the signing of the agreement, the government deliberately decided not to implement the core parts of the agreement, yet expecting business as usual and that the government of national unity will be formed in time. As a result, we have witnessed the delay in the formation of the government of national unity and this is the beginning of the end of Khartoum deal.
Instead of working for peace, the government is actively waging a war in Equatoria, they continue to recruit fighters and eliminate those who are deemed a threat using Kiir’s secret terror service known as unknown gunmen. Kiir’s tactics is to make sure those activities that go contrary to the Khartoum deal is not verified by intimidating and humiliating the verification team. Kiir’s tribal militia continues to rape, torture, rob, humiliate and force people out of their areas with impunity. The regime’s national security continue to subject South Sudanese to arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution these are clear indications that the regime is not interested in bringing lasting peace in South Sudan.
If president Kiir is serious about peace, he could have done everything in his power to open up discussions with rest of the opposition groups who did not sign the Khartoum deal. He could have used his past experience to forge the way for genuine peace. Because he offered positions before and it didn’t work, there was just a pause the conflict continued again. Looking careful on president’s moves is almost duplicate of the last peace agreement since it did not work last time what made him believe this time it will work! President Kiir is using the Khartoum peace deal to improve the oil infrastructure to enable him to finance his senseless war.
Kiir as a president of South Sudan, has moral responsibilities and obligations to restore peace if he desires to do so, but understanding the situation in South Sudan where corruption is with impiety, where lawlessness is embraced so that no one can face justices, where Kiir and his close elites are enriching themselves with the dividends of the conflict that is why peace is not in Kiir’s agenda.
Kiir uses ethnic politics to divide and rule and what is happening in South Sudan today portrays his own policies. His policies are the mean reason why there is conflict, he ignores the rest 63 tribes and only deals with his own tribe even in appointments, he only appoints his own ethnic group to hold key government positions. Such uncivilized action manufactured this current conflict and it will continue to do so in future if it is not addressed amicably
The conflict in South Sudan is not rooted in positions and appointments but rather the entire system of the government that needs major reforms. It’s important to note that in South Sudan president’s ethnic group is favoured and lifted high to oppress and made the other 63 ethnic groups to leave under subjection. The regional power IGAD seem to ignore and dance around the root causes of the conflicted thinking that miracle will occur, knowing that they have mediated the last peace agreement the same way and it never worked. IGAD for some reasons seems to side with the president Kiir as such they lost the respect and trust from South Sudanese people. They clearly displayed their inability to mediate and bring about lasting peace to South Sudan.
The Khartoum peace deal has already proven ineffective due to lack of commitment from the government of South Sudan, IGAD and African Union. Both Kampala and Khartoum is already in total confusion, in Khartoum president Bashir is no longer there and Kampala continues to be part of the conflict. The Khartoum peace deal is already dead, mediators need to accept this reality otherwise nothing tangible will emerge from it. It is important to note that for genuine peace to be restored in South Sudan the peace negotiations have to be inclusive, IGAD should not be the one to mediate because they have lost the respect and trust of the South Sudanese people. IGAD has already exhausted what they have to offer, let there be new mediators with fresh ideas and new ways that will bring lasting peace in South Sudan. Mediators who are keen to listen to the real causes of the conflict and assist the parties to find a lasting solution. The venue for the future peace negotiation has to be outside the region to build confidence and trust in the transparency and fairness of the process. Once these are done, genuine lasting peace will be restored in South Sudan once and for all.
The author is the Secretary for information, South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC)