Opinion: Who are the South Sudan peace spoilers, how to prevent?
A working definition of spoilers “are either individual political actors or political groups that use violence or nonviolent means to destroy a peace process preferred by the majority and in so doing jeopardize peace efforts”. These spoilers can be found on the inside or outside of the peace process and can be either state or non-state actors.
During peace negotiation in Khartoum, all political parties were invited to the peace process. The only political party that was left out is SSUF headed by Gen. Paul Malong Awan. It was left out intentionally by President Salva Kiir who influenced the IGAD heads of State for political and personal reasons. The political reason is that the president and his colleagues would want Gen. Paul Malong to remain as a black goat that would carry the sins of South Sudan as a scapegoat. The personal reason is that President Kiir wanted to use Gen. Paul Malong in the ticket of Bahr el Ghazal Region to support his plan against Dr Riek Machar’s Triumph over him during the implementation process. All these theories are not working for the peace process, and Gen Paul Malong would love to align with Dr Riek Machar in order to unite the country, other than with President Kiir who is the “fragility” to the national unity.
SSUF initially applied for inclusion into peace talks in Addis Ababa right after its formation in March 2017, but IGAD did not accept on pretext that Paul Malong was sanctioned, while harboring members of other political parties who are in the sanctioned list.
IGAD, TROIKA, SSOA and some civil society groups were seriously de-campaigned SSUF’s inclusion into the peace process. Other members of the government including SPLM-IO were advocating for SSUF/A to fight in order to be admitted into the peace process, this suggests that they wanted SSUF to use the barrel of a gun as means of entry into the peace talks and categorically rejecting peaceful means. In this end, it is not SSUF per se which is violent, but it is those political parties which advocate for SSUF to use Military might are the violent groups. They are the inside spoilers of peace and enemies of the people of South Sudan who are jeopardizing peace process by procrastination. SSUF members understood this selective rejection as politically motivated and this approach will not solve the chronic problems of South Sudan which need collective efforts.
The rest of the political parties were party to the Khartoum peace process, but some dissenting voices and splinter groups also protested against the Khartoum peace agreement. These mainstream and splinter political groups include the new SSOA which composed of NAS, NDM, PDM, SSNMC, FDs, and SSLM of Gen. Jacob Nyier. It is very clear that the Khartoum peace agreement is shaky because it was not inclusive in the first place by rejecting SSUF’s participation, and boycotted by dissenting voices that previously were in the peace process. In less time, the government is engaging in fighting SPLM-IO, her main partner in peace, in Yei River State and some areas in Wau and Unity states when they are supposed to engage in peace implementation, yet those they perceived as peace spoilers do not fight the government.
The question is, are these political groups spoilers of the Khartoum Peace Agreement? If yes, what could be done to prevent them from spoiling the peace implementation? If no, what could be done to bring them home to participate in the peace implementation? Who will involve them and how? This is the core of my discussion here in this paper. I think the grantors of the peace agreement need to use the shrewd approach of Ms Hilde Johnson who played a tangible role to ensure the smooth start of the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement of 2005. There is something desired from Hilde Johnson, she had no interest in Sudan’s conflict, her desire was to see peace achieved in the county and her legacy was the success of the peace itself, but the grantors of the R-ARCSS have a conflict of interest, which will not make smooth implementation of the peace deal.
First of all, the general perception is that the Khartoum peace agreement is a project of three leaders: Museveni of Uganda, Kiir of South Sudan and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan; and that these three leaders have divided South Sudan among themselves-the Southern part for Museveni of Uganda, the northern part for Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, and the interior part for Salva Kiir Mayardit. This tripartite deal is purported to consolidate the reign of Kiir to enable President Museveni and President al-Bashir to exploit the natural resources of the country and leave the people of South Sudan in relentless suffering; and this will put the next generation to reap the bitter fruits of this tripartite deal.
President Kiir has surrendered the sovereignty of the country to Museveni and Omar al-Bashir as a neo-protectorate of Uganda and Khartoum. The next leader after Salva Kiir shall have a hard time to rectify this calculated move to nurture the personal interest of Salva Kiir Mayardit who cares less about the dire needs of the people of South Sudan. He has pitched the next generation at war with Khartoum and Uganda thereafter.
President Kiir Mayardit, Museveni and Omar al-Bashir intentionally left out the SSUF/A so that they can purposely use the phrase “spoiler of peace” on them to cover up their hidden plan, but that is an imposed term against SSUF/A because it did not reject peace, but those who rejected SSUF’s participation from the peace talks are the real spoilers of peace because they don’t want the peace to be comprehensive and inclusive; comprehensive in the sense that all the root causes of the problem are addressed, and inclusive in the sense that all political armed groups and non-armed groups are included into the peace talks to guarantee smooth implementation.
Threats are not a solution against the people left out, but the inclusion of them can contribute to a long-lasting peace in the country. The grantors of the Khartoum peace agreement (KPA) and their implementing partners should borrow a leaf from Hilde Johnson how she contained the situation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. There was a massive engagement of the left out political groups by the mediators and grantors to deal with the spoilers of peace in a constructive way, but the current grantors and implementers of Khartoum Peace Agreement are inventing the phrase “spoilers of peace” to satisfy their selfish interest, to deal with those they preconceived as spoilers of peace in a destructive way for detriment of all.
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was comprehensive not because it included all the warring groups but it included all the pressing issues tabled and discussed in the agreement. Contrarily, the KPA is not comprehensive in tackling the pressing issues and also in the inclusion of all the armed parties in conflict.
Who are the spoilers of the Khartoum Peace Agreement, or the R-ARCSS? The answer is very simple, they are neither SSUF nor the new SSOA groups, but they are the government and all its allies who do not want inclusivity and comprehensiveness to end the conflict ones and for all.
Peacemaking process is not all about incubating those members who’ve signed the peace; it is a challenge that requires the involvement of all stakeholders to break down their indifferences and mobilized them to come into one basket for easy implementation. A strategy of mobilizing the stakeholders for the genuine implementation of the R-ARCSS includes the release of the political detainees, lifting of the State of emergency and release of Prisoners of War (POW). However, there is still room for the trio-leaders: President Kiir, President Museveni and President Omar el Bashir to seriously engage those who have not sign the R-ARCSS in a peaceful way partake in the peace implementation IF THEY MEAN GENUINE PEACE in the country.
The suggestion means is to bring together Gen. Paul Malong, Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar for an exclusive meeting to come out with workable modalities, and the person to call them together is the Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who knows them well. Why is it important? The presence of Gen. Paul Malong in the middle of Riek Machar and Salva Kiir will serve as a stabilizer to defuse the in-built vendetta or deeper hatred developed between Dinka and Nuer as a result of the 2013 and 2016 carnage in the country and will quench down the concealed spirit of revenge that will likely happen during the implementation period, to avoid J1 part two. President Kiir and Riak will not bring lasting peace to the country because, among their respective political parties’ members, there are insiders who don’t want this peace and they will make sure upon convergent in Juba will fulfill what they want. These are the spoilers of peace the government should know henceforth than capitalizing on individuals or political groups which are harmless.
They are harmful because they signed that peace because they want positions in the government, and once that interest is not fulfilled, they will create a problem. Those who are left out are not for positions, but they want a comprehensive solution to the problem in the country. Peace does not mean all people have to get jobs in the government as the current peace is all about positions, but genuine peace means guaranteeing absolute security in the country so that people will get jobs outside the country. This should be inclusive and comprehensive.
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