Prof. Peter Tingwa: WHY ARCSS FAILED?

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By Prof. Peter Tingwa

ARCSS was concluded in 2015, four years ago but it has not brought the peace it was designed to bring. In this regard, several articles have been written and published as to why it has failed. This article will attempt to provide yet another view as to why it failed. It will do so, when appropriate, by comparing it to other agreements elsewhere. Perhaps by exposing why it failed, IGAD, its friends and South Sudanese can be assisted to avoid some of those mistakes and thereby make the current Revitalization Process to be successful.  The article is not a critique of the whole ARCSS but a look at a select few areas where changes could be made.  It also looks at the capacity and competence of IGAD as well as the circumstances which insure the successful implementation of an agreement. The views and comparisons therein have arisen from the author’s eleven years in conflict resolution in four UN Peacekeeping missions, in senior positions at various rimes as Chief of Political (Sierra Leone), Humanitarian (Somalia), Civil Affairs(Liberia)  and Demobilization (Liberia) Sections. Now read on

Flawed Agreement

To a neutral observer, ARCSS was flawed right from inception on several grounds. It did not take into account lessons from other peace agreements nor learnt much from the shortcomings of the Naivasha Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). In fact it borrowed heavily from the Naivasha CPA on issues like power sharing, security arrangements and so on. But as can be seen, the Naivasha CPA could, for all purposes, be considered as a conflict between two states; while the December 2013 South Sudan conflict is an intra-state conflict. Hence, the Naivasha CPA stipulations could not be directly applied to this conflict. Other factors that contributed to the shortcomings in the Agreement include:

Lack of understanding of the dynamics of politics in South Sudan

At the outset it must be stated that conflicts that have religious and/or ethnic roots are very difficult to resolve and peace makers must be cognizant of that fact. For example in Somalia, the UN’s good intentions and efforts to re-unite the country floundered because it did not know the critical importance of the clan in the politico-social and cultural life of the Somali people. In the South Sudan/North Sudan conflict, it was religion, coupled with Arabism (ethnic) that made it hard to resolve the conflict. On the other hand, in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where religion and ethnicity were not factors of the conflicts, it was easier (relative) to resolve the conflicts.

In South Sudan the period after the SPLM/A war has been marked by an exponential growth of ethnicity (tribalism) to the extent that most issues, politics and otherwise, are looked at through its perspective and it also has become the norm in the public sector. The current war raging in South Sudan definitely has deep ethnic dimensions to it. It began as a Dinka and Nuer dichotomy, focusing in Juba because it is the capital and Upper Nile, minus the Shilluk and Maban areas. At that time, generally the Dinka stood with the Government of Salva Kiir while the Nuer similarly stood behind Riek Machar. The people of Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal generally were not party to the conflict. However, it must be mentioned that before the outbreak of the conflict in December 2013, many people in Equatoria had already perceived the Government of President Salva as a Dinka outfit from its like: undue preponderance of the Dinka in the civil service security organs (army, police security corrections etc) and any regulatory body: inaction to cases of land grabbing, incursion of livestock into Equatoria and the destruction of crops and the dispensation of justice when a crime is committed by a Dinka against an Equatorian. Given these, after the outbreak od the conflict it was easy for some elements of Equatoria to find common cause with Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO to fight the Government.

Because IGAD did not know this underlying ethno-political dynamics and contradictions of South Sudan, the agreement did not take this into account. So that, in the power sharing arrangement, South Sudan was parceled out between the Government, which the non-Dinka and non-Nuer people see as a Dinka set up; and the SPLM/IO which they saw as a Nuer organization. Consequently, they became alarmed and posed the question, wrongly or rightly, where are we in this? This therefore gave a greater impetus to the people of Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal to join the war. Hence, looked at in this way, the non-Dinka and non-Nuer people of South Sudan form a third factor in this conflict; and consequently, with three factors, algebraically speaking, it will require a quadratic function rather than a simple or simultaneous equation being followed now. Hence, if IGAD wants to arrive at a durable solution in South Sudan, it must take this into account. Furthermore, it should be mindful that often, the seeds of a next conflict are sown in the agreement being hammered out.

Inexperience in resolving conflicts

IGAD was created more for economic reasons rather than for addressing political issues.  It also has very little experience in resolving intra-state conflicts. In its lifetime, however, they did succeed to bring the Sudan conflict to an end, though there were lapses which detracted from the success of the agreement which they hammered out. For example, after signing the Agreement, IGAD left the parties to implement the Agreement on their own. Though this would have been the ideal way for resolving the problem, practically, that usually did not work. Because, left on their own, the protagonists would sooner than later begin to renege on the agreement and veer from its stipulations and spirit. For example, in the absence of IGAD, the Government of the Sudan ceased the opportunity to renege on two key provisions of the agreement, namely, the Abyei Protocol and the demarcation of the boundaries between the two new states. It is without doubt that these two un-implemented provisions will remain to be a source of friction between the two states. In ARCSS, however, IGAD did put in place follow-up mechanisms, the JMEC and CTSAMM; but so far, their performance to say the least is below par.

Absence of a bull dozer

It is a common knowledge that if one wants to separate two persons who are fighting, one must be equal to or stronger than either of the two, otherwise you won’t succeed. Similarly, in peace talks, the peace makers must either be strong to flex muscles or have the presence of a strong member with might, like Nigeria in ECOWAS. This is very necessary for the success of the talks, since the protagonists would respect it.  IGAD lacks such a member that can put its weight behind an agreed issue and command the respect of the parties. Because of that, during the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A talks, the Government of the Sudan, which saw itself as strong as, or even stronger than the any of the members of IGAD , often would ignore dates set for the talks and only attend as it chose to do and IGAD had to go along.  Unfortunately, though the Government of South Sudan is not stronger than any of them, IGAD has allowed this to happen again. Often the Government of South Sudan would decline to fulfill certain things, e.g. sign an agreement and IGAD would allow it to do it at a time of its own choice. When peace makers allow such to happen, then their power of mediation is undermined. Hence, must assert itself and firmly remind the parties of the risk of being sanctioned if they prove to be obstacles to peace.

Lack of unity and of purpose among the members

From observations, it is clear that the IGAD peace makers are not united. Leading members like Uganda was actively fighting the Riek forces, while Sudan was clandestinely supplying arms to Riek’s SPLM-IO. Such a lack of unity of purpose has undermined the impartiality of the IGAD and has made the conflict more difficult to resolve.  Additionally, protagonists are quick to exploit such divisions. A classic example of this elsewhere was in the first Liberian conflict 1993-1996.  In that conflict, Burkina Faso  (Campaore) and Cote d’ Ivoire (Houphuet Boigny) were openly supportive of Charles Taylor, it thus became difficult to reach an agreement and particularly to implement it, because both Burkina Faso and Cote d’ Ivoire kept supplying Charles Taylor with arms. Consequently, in 1994, the agreement collapsed and it was only in 1996, when all the ECOWAS leaders worked and stood together, that they succeeded to bring the conflict to an end. Therefore for this war to end, all members of IGAD should stand together and cease supplying arms to any of the sides.

Procrastination, assertiveness and decisiveness

Conflicts are dynamic occurrences. They change very quickly in magnitude as well as complexity if given time. Unfortunately, IGAD’s handling of the South Sudan conflict has been marked by the triple handicaps of the lack of assertiveness, decisiveness and undue procrastination. Given this, protagonists are also quick to recognize such weaknesses and take advantage of them. IGAD’s actions have been far in between, such that by the time some action comes to be taken, many of the things had already changed. For example, the last Revitalization talks ended since mid-December last year, but the follow-up meeting is only going to take place in February.  Why this? In the meantime, new issues have arisen, like the Paul Malong case and other new rebel groups. These have the potential of adding to the complexity of conflict. In fact, procrastination has been one reason why it has taken IGAD these four long and shameful years to nail the South Sudanese conflict. Contrast this with ECOWAS in West Africa, where quick and firm actions resolved the potential conflicts in Burkina Faso and The Gambia in a matter of months only. Additionally, because ECOWAS leaders are bold assertive and decisive, they have not shied from rebuking and/or taking actions against one of their own, e.g. Charles Taylor and Yaya Jammeh, should such actions lead to resolving the problem.

RE-LOOKING AT THE ARCSS 

General, the reviewing of agreements 

Concerns had been expressed by especially the Government about the reviewing of ARCSS, but this concern is uncalled for. Because, as is known, peace agreements everywhere are normally reviewed, as the situation changes and as phases of the agreement are completed. This has happened many times with UN mediated peace operations. For example, the intervention in Somalia changed from UNITAF addressing the humanitarian needs to UNOSOM I and II, focusing on the political and rehabilitation of the country. In Angola, it changed from UNAVEM I, dealing with the withdrawal of foreign troops to UNAVEM II and III, focusing on disarmament and integration of UNITA into the army and running of the elections. Taken positively, reviewing of agreements are done to improve or retune the agreement in order to meet new developments or challenges; and by so doing, the goals of the agreement are achieved. In the light of this, it makes sense for parties to the agreement to welcome it. Hence, under whatever euphemism for the word review, IGAD must ensure that ARCSS is reviewed in order to make it relevant to the new developments. The idea that it should only be a rescheduling of the timelines of the current ARCSS should be discarded.

Re-looking the ARCSS

It can be said that the Provisions in the ARCSS have covered all the areas required for bringing peace to South Sudan but there are many lapses and shortcomings in some of the areas.  This article will.  However, not go through all of them, but it will make comments briefly on two key Provisions:  Security and Power Sharing Arrangements.

Security Arrangements 

General considerations

When a conflict has come to or has been brought to an end through a defeat of one side; or through an agreement and a permanent ceasefire, there is the critical issue of bringing the country down from the war induced situation to a normal and peaceful country. This issue comprises several operations: continued provision of security to the country while changes are being made; removal of the large quantities of weapons in the country; reduction of the huge number of combatants fighting on both sides over and above the needs of the country at peace with itself; and the distorted and often over blown security sector as a result of the war. All these have to be addressed in some interim period.

But as is known, the type of the post-conflict Security Arrangement invariably depends on how the conflict came to an end. If war came to an end because one side had clearly won the war, then this winner dictates how to address the above listed issues. Such were the case in Ethiopia and Uganda where the rebel side, respectively EPDRF and UPDF won the war and dictated what happened to the defeated government armies.  In the case of Angola, the MPLA Government won the war and dictated how the defeated UNITA rebels were to be treated. But in cases where the conflict came to an end through mutual agreement, then all sides have to have a say in how those issues are addressed. In South Sudan, since the war is ending trough an agreement, then it must be made to be owned by all the parties and not a government alone.

Security Arrangements in ARCSS

In the text, many of the stipulations were to have been threshed out in the workshop. The indications are that the workshop did not take place as fighting broke out almost immediately.  So, in looking at the Chapter II Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements as is, the following need to be reconsidered, particularly in view of the new groups having joined the conflict. Those provisions that need to be re-looked include: the size of forces (1.8.5) needs to be determined in Equatoria as well as Western Bahr El Ghazal; the separation, assembly and cantonment (2.2) need to be created in those areas; and all the provisions under the Transitional Security Arrangements need to be thoroughly reviewed because it was the failure of this (5.1-5.5) that directly led to the collapse of the ARCSS on 08 August 2016. This lapse was compounded by the absence of a verification mechanism on the ground. The absence of the UN in many of the committees of the Security Arrangements needs to be corrected, since it is only the UN that has the capabilities and resources for carrying out many of the operations.

DDRR

As it is, the roles and goals for the Disarmament Demobilization Re-insertion and Reintegration (DDRR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) are not clearly defined in the stipulations. Whereas these are the key operations in for addressing the issues listed South Sudan badly needs comprehensive DDRR program that would remove weapons from the hands of combatants as well as civilians. And whereas for understandable reasons DDRR was not emphasized in the CPA, because SPLA was needed to defend the CPA during the transitional period, there was absolutely no reason why it was not prioritized in ARCSS. With such a preponderance of weapons and multitude of fighting groups in the country, IGAD could have drawn experiences from the peace program of Angola, where two UN missions focused solely on addressing the issues of weapons and the combatants. UNAVEM II that “to verify the arrangements agreed to by the Angolan parties for the monitoring of the ceasefire and for the monitoring of the Angolan police during the ceasefire period” and UNAVEM III in which a UN contingent was brought in “to ensure that ceasefire between UNITA and the Government and arrange for the safe quartering (cantonment) of UNITA rebels once thy laid down their arms; and open up most arterial roads”.

Security Sector Reform

At the same time ARCSS has offered a very good chance for South Sudan to professionalize and drastically reduce its bloated security sector, commensurate with its needs and ability. Currently, the security sector is not reformed and restructured; and for that reason, its mentality and modus oprendii  have changed very little from the rebel days. Because no restructuring and reform were done after Naivasha CPA, Reportedly, SPLA remains an army with an unknown numbers and reportedly, with more generals than the US Army of over a million, It contains elements ranging from teenagers to senile grandfathers. Moreover it is prone to splintering and is dominated by only two ethnic groups, especially at the Dinka and the Nuer.  The argument that other tribes do not want to join the army is a cover up the domination. The Police Service is similarly very unprofessional. Its higher echelons are riddled with persons who have had no experience in policing and the Security personnel is ill-trained, given up to acting with impunity and who do not know the limits of powers. They often harass ordinary people just as way as a show-off to all and sundry that they have the powers to do anything.

Given these, it must be underscored here that DDRR and SSR are essential and critical for the success of ARCSS and the future stability of the country.  They cannot be executed on a shoestring nor left to the government to drive it alone. IGAD must therefore ensure that they are spelt out succinctly in the Revitalization Process and the support of the UN sought.

The Power Sharing Arrangements

The success of power sharing agreements

Most intra-state conflicts emanate from the rivalry to capture the power at the center of the state. So, power sharing arrangements are meant to bring the rivals together in order to share the power temporarily in a transitional period, usually preceding a national election.  Power sharing arrangements have however not always been very successful. Recent history of peace making in Africa is replete with examples of failures and not so very successful arrangements. This is especially true in cases where a sitting government is expected to share powers with opposition group(s) with which it is/was in conflict. Usually, the sitting government will do everything in its powers to take the lion’s share in the arrangement, unless the peace makers are firm enough to ensure that the sharing is fair and is as per the stipulations and spirit of the signed agreement. Examples of such unsuccessful power sharing include: the collapse of power sharing arrangements between Charles Taylor NPFL Government and Johnson’s ULIMO rebels in 1997 and between Tejan Kabbah’s SLPP Government and Foday Sanko’s RUF rebels in 2000. Even in cases where there is no violent conflict, as was the case in Kenya, power sharing had not been very successful because the coalition went through turbulent times, with President Kibaki often taking decisions without consulting Prime Minister Raila Odinga, as was required in the agreement.

In view of this, and having tried it unsuccessfully in the first Liberian conflict as well as in the Sierra Leone conflict, in the second Liberian conflict (1997-2003), ECOWAS crafted the power sharing agreement in such a way that, both President Charles Taylor (elected President in a UN conducted election) and the LURD rebel leaders were kept away from the transitional government; and a hybrid government, comprising of professionals and representatives of the same parties in conflict was formed.  And in order that the work of the transitional government would not be unduly affected by the Taylor dominated-Legislature, it was prorogued and a new and leaner transitional Legislature was formed. IGAD could still consider this as an option if both sides prove intransigent.

Power sharing in South Sudan agreements

As may be recalled, power sharing arrangement in involving South Sudan was the Naivasha CPA between the Sudan Government and the SPLM Government of Southern Sudan. But as can be seen, that power sharing was, so to speak, between de facto two states i.e. North Sudan and South Sudan, each having a defined territory under its control.  Secondly, SPLM/A’s prime aim was really not about capturing power in Khartoum. Thirdly, that sharing of powers was to lead to a referendum for South Sudan. Hence, it was appropriate for that situation. The on-going conflict in South Sudan is however intra-state and emanating from the rivalry for the control of power in Juba, as was the case in Liberia and Sierra Leone. As mentioned in an earlier paragraph, power sharing involving the division of the country provoked the people of Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal to join the conflict and so must be avoided. Hence, in the Revitalization Process, IGAD should be creative and devise a power sharing formula that would be compatible with the ethno-dynamic politics of South Sudan.

AVAILABLE OPPORTUNITIES, NOT TAKEN

In addition to intrinsic its weaknesses, leverage and lack of resources, IGAD failed to take opportunities that were available to it so that its work could be more effective. For example:

Failure to fully utilize the UN and its capacity and resources

IGAD failed to succinctly call upon the UN in order to use its leverage and resources, as was done by the SADC countries in Angola or ECOWAS in Liberia and Sierra Leone, not only to bring pressure on the protagonists but also to facilitate some of the critical operations during the implementation of the agreement. IGAD could have called for greater UN support in the following areas:

Imposition of Sanctions  

IGAD failed to request the UN to impose sanctions on the country as a whole and against those who either fuel the conflict and/or who obstruct the implementation of the agreement. On the contrary and astonishingly, it unfortunately is some of the members of IGAD who are vehemently opposed to the imposition of sanctions on the inexcusable grounds that sanctions do not work. This, of course, is not completely true. Sanctions do work! In West Africa, the arms embargo imposed on Liberia and Sierra Leone by the UN, at the request of ECOWAS, were successful in curtailing the flow of arms to the protagonists. In Liberia, the assets freeze and travel bans imposed on President Charles Taylor and leaders of the LURD rebels denied them the ability to mobilize resources for the war effort. Similarly in Sierra Leone, the travel bans, assets freeze and particularly the UN enforced regime on the sale of diamonds from Sierra Leone, denied the RUF rebels the source of finance for the purchase of weapons for continuing the war.

In South Sudan, which is already drowning in weapons, It beats logic and any sense of moral values to allow the any of the parties a free hand to purchase lethal weapons for killing one another, particularly innocent South Sudanese. Moreover, as several studies have shown, these arms easily slip from the SPLA and the rebels to the hands of civilians. As a consequence, tribal conflicts and cattle raids have now increased significantly, since 2013. In view of these, IGAD countries should soul search and come to the realization that, by not supporting arms embargo, they are in a way not only responsible for the violence and consequent death of innocent people of South Sudan, but also the ultimate destruction of the country.

Support in Monitoring and Verification

These are two important operations in the implementation of any peace agreement, particularly in the cessation of hostilities, in separation of the forces and the observations of ceasefires. It is only through them that the party that is violating the ceasefires can be determined and subsequently sanctioned. They are however costly operations, requiring heavy logistics for rapid movement. As it can be seen, it is only the UN that has the capacity and the wherewithal to carry it out. Yet in ARCSS, IGAD failed to request and/or gave a meaningful role to the UN in these operations, as was done by ECOWAS.  Without these, it is hard to tell who has violated the ceasefire by attacking the known position of the opponent. Because of these, it became the norm for both JMEC and CTSAMM, how clear a violation has been, to issue bland statements to the effect that both parties are violating the ceasefire. This routine and unhelpful statements have even invited criticism from Michael Makuei Lueth, the Government Spokesperson and Martin Elia Lomuro, Minister for Cabinet Affairs, to the effect that the CTSAMM reports were of no use, since they fail to mention who actually committed the violation.

SOME SHORTCOMINGS IN IMPLEMENTATION

Bringing antagonistic forces together without precautionary measures

In the Security Arrangements, IGAD (ARCSS) prescribed the demilitarization of Juba as a way to remove Riek’s fears and make him come back to the town for the power sharing arrangements. It did not take into account the very high risk of bringing into town two mutually antagonistic and distrustful forces without ensuring their adequate separation. There was no mechanisms to monitor and verify as to whether or not the Government had indeed had pulled its soldiers out of Juba. As a consequence, Juba was not demilitarized as required. Additionally, the sites selected by the Government for encampment of the soldiers pulled out of Juba was 25 kilometers along the main roads of Juba which, in the military sense, effectively surrounds Juba and, in effect, was tantamount to the Government’s siege of Juba town.

This is in contrast to the cases in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, where, when the demilitarization of the capitals was required, ECOWAS ensured that both capitals of Monrovia and Freetown were placed under the control of UN troops, supported by the national police. Under such a circumstance, both the government and the rebel groups felt safe in the town. Even the close protection to Chairman Jude Bryant of the Liberian transitional government and latter, the elected President Ellen Sirleaf were provided by the UN. The same applied to President Tejan Kabbah in Sierra Leone. There was nothing shameful about it nor did it detract one bit from the sovereignty of those countries. So what is this grandstanding about sovereignty in South Sudan?

Tolerating changes in the letter and spirit of the Agreement 

For an agreement to hold and be implemented successfully, the peace makers must ensure that the parties are made to stick to the letter and spirit of the Agreement. Changes are only tolerated when the parties mutually agree to them. Parties are told that, unilateral changes invite sanctions.  Unfortunately, IGAD did nothing when the government presented its 25 reservations before signing the agreement; and also stood idly by when the government created the 28 now 32 states even when they knew that that action had seriously undermined the very basis of the power sharing agreement. This time round, IGAD must not tolerate one-sided changes.

Impartiality and un-evenhandedness

Impartiality and straight forwardness is the sine qua non for winning the confidence of the parties and thereby the success of the negotiations and of the peace agreement. To a neutral observer, however, IGAD and Troika have fallen short of this. It may be recalled that IGAD and the Troika had put a lot of pressure on Riek Machar to go to Juba, after President Salva half-heartedly signed the agreement. Despite the fact that Juba was not demilitarized as required; and there was a high level of mistrust between Riek Machar and President Salva, Riek gambled and flew into Juba. The August 08 JI incident was the direct result of that misguided pressure. Surprisingly, neither IGAD nor the Troika commended Riek Machar for the risk he took at their persuasion. Moreover, they did not condemn the government’s indiscriminate use of lethal weapons (gunships) in civilian population areas in Juba.

Exclusion and inclusion

The elimination and exclusion of a key player who has a substantial following has rarely worked in conflict resolution. History is again replete with the examples of these. For example, the exclusion of Jomo Kenyatta, Nelson Mandela, Robert Mugabe et cetera did not stop their followers from continuing the struggle. It did not work for the US in Iraq, where the US thought that, by eliminating Saddam Hussein, Iraq would overnight change to be a paradise of democracy. It also did not work for the UN in Somalia where, on the recommendation of the US, it was considered that by excluding or even eliminating Farah Aideed, reconciliation would occur and peace would come to Somalia. Despite these very clear examples, IGAD and the Troika in their ‘wisdom’ considered that peace could be attained in South Sudan, if Riek Machar was excluded. But as expected, that idea has failed. His diehard supporters would not accept Taban Deng Gai as his replacement and have continued to fight until today. Now IGAD should realize this error and do the right thing by bringing Riek Machar back into the equation, since he does have a following.

AT THE DOOR OF THE UN and SOUTH SUDANESE

The above paragraphs point out to weaknesses of IGAD and its lapses, shortcomings in formulating the agreement as well as in its implementation. Both the UN and, especially, the South Sudanese bear a great deal of responsibility for its failure. These failure and shortcomings are highlighted briefly below:

The United Nations 

Mission conception

The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is a follow-on mission from the erstwhile UN mission in the Sudan (UNMIS). It however would appear that it was not properly retuned to address problems in a new country. Because, usually in such newly created countries, like East Timor, UN fields a large civil affairs component to assist the fledgling and/or inexperienced government to establish its state structures. UN also did this in established but badly war-torn countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone in order to restore the authority of the State all over the country. The restoration of the authority of the state was considered cr itical for the post conflict recovery programs. Consequently, large civil affairs components were established in both UNMIL and UNAMSIL to carry those out. Compare this to about half a dozen civil affairs officers for the whole of a state in South Sudan, where State authority had completely broken down over the two-decade war. As a consequence, State authority and consequent services are very poor in the counties.

Lack of robustness

As is known, the UN is ultimately responsible for the world peace and security. However, in comparison to other conflicts elsewhere, the UN has not done as much to South Sudan as it did in those countries like East Timor, Bosnia, Kosovo, Liberia Sierra Leone, Central African Republic et cetera. In those countries, there was a very robust UN intervention politically, militarily etc. Why has this been so? It is possible that, UN and the international community are standing back in deference to the newly found African slogan of ‘Africa solutions to African problems’. But why should this be at the expense of the people of South Sudan, where both IGAD and AU have clearly failed to resolve the problem? Therefore in order to make the difference, UNMISS must be given a mandate that addresses the roots of the conflict.

Not focusing on the real cause of the conflict

Elsewhere, the key reason for UN intervention in a country in conflict was primarily to restore political dialogue and the subsequent violence that had broken as a result. However, it would appear that the UNMISS’ mission seems to over-emphasize the protection of civilians and raping of women. Though these are serious mandates, they are the direct results of the breakdown of the political dialogue in the country. Hence, UNMISS mandate must be re-adjusted to address the root of the conflict which is a robust political role, as is the case everywhere.

Mission leadership

The success of a UN mission to address the political and military aspects of a conflict very much depends on the astuteness and political acumen of the SRSG. It also depends on the toughness of the SRSG, particularly in countries or societies where the culture of war is a norm, as in Somalia and South Sudan. In such countries, the characteristic of being nice, diplomatic and soft spoken are considered as weakness, thus not respected. In examining UNMISS leadership, the mission has not been led by a robust and no nonsense SRSG; and so the parties, especially the Government, do not take the mission seriously. Therefore, for a country South Sudan and a people like the South Sudanese, the UN must select an assertive SRSG, preferably with a military background. This same recommendation goes to IGAD, that an affable   gentlemanly and overly diplomatic person is not the kind of person who can a critical body like JMEC in South Sudan.

The South Sudanese

On the other hand, the South Sudanese government and rebels alike should appreciate the assistance being extended to them by the neighbors, friends, IGAD, AU, UN and the rest of the international community. The antagonistic feelings towards the UN and the nonsensical utterances that the UN is  intending to occupy South Sudan in order to exploit its natural resources is the height of ignorance of what the UN is all about and tantamount to ingratitude to a body that has been feeding the people of South Sudan for the last many years. They must bear in mind that the suffering they are currently undergoing is their own doing and so they bear the greatest responsibility to resolving them. The South Sudanese must make themselves helpable to benefit from the good will of the others. It is said that, in order for a drowning person to be saved, he/she must make him/herself helpable, otherwise both will sink. The South Sudanese must also be mindful that the international community is not going to sit around them forever, attending to their problems. One day they will abandon them as they did in Afghanistan and Somalia.

THE REVITALIZATION PROCESS

The Revitalization Process and how it can be made successful

There is now an abundance of articles written by South Sudanese and foreigners, suggesting how the revitalization talks could be made successful. The topics above have elaborated some of the lapses and so only highlights of what needs to be done are given below:

  • A united stand by IGAD: protagonists in a conflict know how to exploit differences between the facilitators to the detriment of the agreement
  • Gaining the trust of all the parties: IGAD must try to shed the perception among the opposition that it is partial to the government
  • Understanding the dynamics, impact of tribalism on the body politics of South Sudan and taking them into account in power sharing arrangements
  • Deeper and greater involvement of the UN; because it has the wherewithal for effecting many of the provisions of the Agreement. After all, it is responsible for world security
  • Over-use of the term ‘sovereignty’: it is a known fact that in order for a country in conflict to be put back to stability and to constitutional order; it inevitably must lose some aspects of its constitution and sovereignty. While it is prudent to respect the pride of the people by respecting their sovereignty, it is also is necessary to distinguish as to whether the respect for the sovereignty is not actually impeding the implementation of the agreement
  • IGAD must review its blind stand against the imposition of sanctions in South Sudan. Elsewhere, sanctions are an integral and essential part of the implementation of an agreement. Furthermore, it is not as valueless as is being portrayed by its detractors. Sanctions or threats to use them do serve to whip violators, spoilers, recalcitrant parties and their supporters into line.
  • Apportioning blame equally to the parties, as JMEC often does in its reports, is not very helpful, i.e. each side should bear its own cross. In this, IGAD, JMEC and CTSAMM, should adopt a braver, assertive and even handed stand in their reporting.
  • No elections should be allowed until stability is achieved. A transitional government, comprising the parties and technocrats should be formed for at least two years to implement the revitalized agreement
  • The current over-blown Legislative Assembly should be prorogued and a lean Transitional Legislative Assembly of not more than 150 representatives, that is, three per the counties that existed before in the ten states.
  • DDRR and Security Sector Reform should be prioritized and spelt out clearly in the Agreement

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