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Is Consensus by ARCISS' Parties Possible on 28 States?

By James Okuk, PhD

January 16, 2016 (SSNA) -- Last few days after a positive step was taken by the parties to the August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) regarding consensus on selection of 30 national ministries, the   Government of the Republic of South Sudan thought that the same honeymoon should be extended to the issue of 28 states. The request was officially placed to the JMEC in its second meeting after having heard the progress report from the National Constitutional Amendments Committee. It was decided thereafter that the issue of 28 states is not purely a legal matter but a political one that could be resolved by dialogue until consensus is reached on how to go about it. 

However, 'consensus' is a porous term because it could be understood from perspectives of different directions. Firstly, it could be that ARCISS' parties would agree on endorsement of the Republic Establishment Order Number 36/2015 for creation of 28 States in the decentralized governance system in the Republic of South Sudan by including this in the structure and composition of states governments.

Secondly, it could be that the parties would agree that the issue of 28 states be endorsed for further deliberation and modification but within the mechanisms provided in Chapter Six on Parameters of Permanent Constitution after the transitional government has taken up its duties fully. It is already provided that the TGoNU would initiate a federal and democratic system of government that reflects the character of South Sudan in its various institutions taken together with guarantees of good governance, constitutionalism, rule of law, human rights, gender equity, affirmative action, stability, national unity, ethnic diversity, territorial integrity and people's participation via devolution of powers and resources to the states and counties. 

The permanent constitution is supposed to be completed not later than 18 months from the time of launching the transitional period. The reconstituted National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) shall include political parties, Civil Society Organizations, Faith-based groups, Women bloc, Youth, Ethnic Minorities, Private Sector, Academics and other professionals who should carry out wide consultations and conduct civic education on the permanent constitution-making. Not only these, but also the TGoNU shall seek assistance of regional and international experts to benefit from the experience and best practices on this constitutional making endeavor. Hence, consensus on the second option is likely possible within ARCISS' mechanisms.

However, consensus on the first option seems impossible, given the diverting public positions of the parties. The GRSS continues to push for the endorsement of 28 states because it assumes this to be a popular decision that would never be revered by H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit thought it could be amended by another Republican Order.

The SPLM-IO has come out openly against the adoption of the 28 states for kickstarting the government of national unity of the transitional period, and insists that the dissolved 10 states should be the way to start as provided in Chapter One of the ARCISS because 28 states is a recipe for permanent ethnic conflicts and more continuation of instability in South Sudan. 

The SPLM- FDs and Other Political Parties have objected even to sitting down to dialogue for a consensus on the 28 states because this is a violation to ARCISS as well as to the constitutional procedures. The JMEC's Chairperson, H.E. Testis G. Mogae have also voiced out his fear that the 28 states is creating unnecessary further delays to implementation of the ARCISS because it is a violation and un-procedural move by the GTSS on the trust of peace.

As this is the case, it would be miraculous how a consensus could be reached on the crisis of 28 states even if it is declared by the JMEC to be a political issue. What is expected to happen then? 

The JMEC has suggested that the formation of Government of National Unity at the national level could go ahead based on reference to the ARCISS while dialogue on the composition and structure of government of national unity at states level continue till a political consensus is reached. 

The GRSS tends to be comfortable with this thought because it gives it more time to buy while its de facto 28 states and governors are operational on the ground. 

The SPLM-IO may be half-heartily welcoming to JMEC's suggestion as long as its 21 bush federal states and governors continue to exist at the same time, though not necessarily at the same places with the GRSS' 28 states. But the difficulty with this mediocre comfort is that Dr. Riek Machar and other SPLM-IO hardliners may not accept to step feet in Juba until the the crisis of 28 states is resolved by the JMEC finally. 

This shall, of course, be considered by the international community and its regional allies as obstruction and delay to the implementation of the ARCISS; an act that has already been red-lined by the UN Security Council Resolutions 2206 and 2241(2015) with targeted sanctions and other methods of interventions. 

If the ARCISS raveled, the GRSS shall feel much heat of hit for a failure because of serious economic crises that may get created to add to the already existing hard currency bankruptcy. People's outcry shall dangerously get louder with SPLM factions losing popularity both nationally and internationally, despite the fact that there is no Tarir Square in Juba to demonstrate the frustration. The SPLM-IO may not escape the blame too, especially if its advance team decide to get out from Juba or seek refuge in UNMISS as a sign of resumption of more rigorous civil war against SPLM-IG regime.

Why would leaders of the warring parties want to continue humiliating themselves in the face of their citizens and the world by delaying the implementation of ARCISS because of the issue of 28 states that could even be resolved shortly within a year after starting with 10 states first? 

To resolve this problem H.E. Salve Kiir is not obliged to issue another Executive Order to reverse the 28 states. What he needs urgently is to allow the NCAC to incorporate the 10 states into draft transitional constitution (2016) as agreed in ARCISS, pass the transitional constitution in the Council of Ministers, endorse it in the expanded Transitional Legislative Assembly and then sign it into supreme law. 

This would drop indirectly the GRSS' 28 states and SPLM-IO' 21 states by revitalizing the defunct 10 states for kickstarting the ARCISS period on right footing. From then the government of national unity would get formed with Dr. Riek and all SPLM-IO arriving in Juba hurriedly so that sanctions and other embarrassments could be avoided in time before it is too late after January 2016.

Viva ARCISS implementation Viva!

Dr. James Okuk is lecturer of politics reachable at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

January 2016 is Month of SPLM's Do or Quit ARCISS in South Sudan

By James Okuk, PhD

January 5, 2016 (SSNA) -- The month of January was originally named by the Ancient Greek to signify a god of double heads: one head facing forward to a bright future and another head facing backward to a dark past. This Greek nomenclature mythology seems to be making sense with the current situation of the Republic of South Sudan under the confusing SPLM regime that has not learn the dignity of revering credibility and truth. 

The SPLM leaders have even spoiled the communist favorable term of 'comrade' which has now come to connote a 'thief of public money' - corruption -  in the one-party dominated government. That is why some common South Sudanese react offendedly these days if you happen to call them 'comrades' as this liberation virtue got blown away by wind of kleptocracy.

The shameless SPLM's behaviour could be the core reason that led to failure or hijacking of the  leadership of the Republic of South Sudan to the extent that people don't enjoy what can be called citizenship, peace, justice and prosperity for all. The previously trusted SPLM liberators have turned around to betray the people's trust by taking them back to the anguishing situation of wars and tribal hegemonic oppressions that came to replace Jellaba's injustices. That is why President Salva Kiir Mayardit feels nostalgic at times about the bush life compared to the current terrible SPLM power wrangling situation he has been wrongly managing in futility.

Since the signing of August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS), many days and months have been made to pass without putting an end to the senseless war so as to restore the sanctity of life through peace. However, the month of January 2016 has come to remain the critical and deterministic epoch for ending the shameless SPLM status quo by effecting a rebooting political dispensation.

The January will tell soon that it is irrationally unrealistic to sign a peace agreement on paper and do something different on the ground. It would have been better for the SPLM leaders not to append their signatures on ARCISS if they they didn't believe in honoring it because this would have saved them from wrath of contradictions and confusions. 

Now, the commitment for ARCISS implementation is on their necks with escape routes blocked. The concerned international and regional communities have already entrenched themselves to deal with the SPLM regime even if it means 'highway methodology'. The fact that the UN Security Council has approved Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems (known as drones), tactical military helicopters and other sophisticated heaviest arms with additional troops being deployed to South Sudan under Chapter VII of UN Charter, is already a clear signal that leaders of the new country are not going to be left alone to continue misbehaving on their vulnerable citizens. 

Peace is going to be enforced down on throats of the unwilling SPLM regime by nooks and crooks because the biggest UN peacekeeping force in the world with unique civilian camps called PoCs shall not quit in shame. There is not going to be a new negotiated peace deal but the ARCISS itself under supervision of the most able Botswana's Former President and his deputies who were dispatched by western superpowers to teach the intransigent Machiavellian SPLM leaders some lessons of good governance and modern political discipline.

As it is is commonly said that the whites' taxpayers money (especially the Troika) can't be spent with no returns, it has become evident that the SPLM regime has been caught finally at the tight corner of ARCISS they have been lying about in the wasted past months. Hence, it will be a safer soft landing for the SPLM leaders to implement the ARCISS in letter and spirit in accordance with matrixes and timelines provided by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC). 

As the clock of the first week of the deterministic January 2016 is ticking towards a finishing line and as the second week is already knocking at the doors of the SPLM-J regime, the joint regional and international actors together with internal economic pressure is mounting yet again on the ruling SPLM leaders. All the rivalling SPLM factions are already in Juba to tell the whole world, including the people of South Sudan, that they are for peace and nothing else. Thus, whoever would attempt to obstruct the peace process by acting unilaterally outside the ARCISS provisions should be designated to carry the cross of undesirable sanctions alone.

The ARCISS should be allowed to overrule the Transitional Constitutions (2011) and its amendments, including the recently created troublesome 28 states that lacks scientific feasibility studies apart from parochial dirty politicking. The delayed National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) should be allowed to complete its work by second week of January 2016 without any attempt at renewed negotiations on ARCISS provisions. 

As it has been stipulated in Article 13 of the ARCISS, the IGAD-led mediation initiated the formation of the 8-membered NCAC with mandate to complete the necessary tasks for transition period and establishment of Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) with all its legislative, executive and judicial branches. 

However, it has been very strange as usual for the GRSS representatives to object to the progress of NCAC's duty on a lame duck excuse that  they have not read and studied the ARCISS and should be given enough time to do so, when actually much time has already been wasted in vanity. 

The Other Political Parties' representative to NCAC has not been nominated due to obstruction by the GRSS' wing who call themselves the 'Programme Parties' under satellitic leadership of Martin Elia Lomuro in contrast to the National Alliance under the astute liberalized leadership of Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin. 

Nevertheless, the NCAC boat has been moving because the quorum is complete even with the absence of one member of political parties or two members of the GRSS. The draft peace constitutional amendments bill is supposed to be completed within 21 days from the date NCAC started its work (i.e., 22nd December 2015 - 12 January 2016). Anything that the NCAC is unable to do in the set time shall be done by the supreme supervisor of the ARCISS, H.E. Festus Mogae, so that the GRSS Minister of Justice could receive the draft peace constitutional amendments and other relevant legislations to be tabled in the current Council of Ministers (before it is dissolved) and thereafter within 7 days to the 400-membered reconstituted Transitional National Assembly (TNLA) led by an elected strong Equatorian MP. 

The TNLA is supposed to ratify the peace constitutional amendments within 30 days (i.e., by second week of February 2016) so that it is assented to by the President of the Republic immediately and thereafter be used as the supreme legal basis of conferred powers for establishment of institutions and mechanisms that are necessary for legitimatization of TGoNU, with consideration of inclusivity and national diversity of South Sudanese by their political parties, tribal affiliations and gender categorisations for appointments to government posts.

The ARCISS set time could even be shortened so that the loss pre-transition period is compensated all by January so that the actual peace government assumes its total mandate by February after appointments of the 1st VP Dr. Riek Machar, the VP James Wani Igga, the 30 National Ministers and 8 Deputies, and 10 governors of ten states with their ministers in accordance with the ARCISS lottery and quotas of the principal parties (GRSS, SPLM-IO, FDs and OPP). The Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), including 10 states governments, has to take up its duties as mandated horizontally and vertically with a new political dispensation for reforms and adjustments in the country. 

However, if the SPLM regime misses January 2016 it will not miss U.S plan 'B' in collaboration with the IGAD-Plus countries and allies. Under this plan, the UNMISS with its well-armed peacekeeping forces may automatically turn into an enemy of the SPLM-J regime, joined by IGAD-Plus stabilizing forces and other armed forces inside the country that are not happy with the political status quo. The current JMEC leadership may also automatically be tasked with a direct UN-AU Trusteeship for South Sudan for a government of technocrats in the transitional period before elections of politicians’ takes place later in fair and free atmosphere.

Because of this possibility, a Rational Choice Theory would suggest that the loss that shall be incurred by the SPLM regime could be severe in case of opening up the auction for plan 'B' to get effected, compared to reasonable gains that are engrained in the ARCISS (or call it plan 'A') if it is implemented willingly. 

Therefore, if there are ears left in SPLM leaders, I hope they got to hear it well now in this January 2016 before it is too late for their political salvation after. Let them grab quickly the forward head of January before it is grabbed for them by foreigners. There is no 'either or'  on the compromise of peace in South Sudan now because both the regional and international communities will not tolerate a making of another Somalia or Syria. South Sudan is a different gene altogether, especially its geopolitical position.

It would be better and safer to develop good faith for ARCISS implementation so that all of us can enjoy dividends of safety of peace in 2016 and beyond with the NCAC mandate extended up to a maximum of 12 months (i.e., December 2016) for drafting or revising the relevant legislations of reforms and peaceful adjustments in the country. Otherwise, the GRSS would be left alone in the cold singing the outdated sovereignty song on unviable unilateral 28 states because it doesn't fit into the ARCISS and it is not easy for this to get swallowed without causing death to the Mother Peace in all corners of our promised land.

With the unpredictability we have known of our President Kiir since the time he assumed the highest office in 2005, things may just turn around positively at the last peak hour as he did it with nomination of  GoNU ministers in Khartoum in 2005, with SPLM ministers' boycott of GoNU in 2007, with national census in 2008, with referendum for self-determination in 2010, and with his signature on ARCISS in Juba on 26th August 2015. He may surprise the JMEC, the regional and international communities by endorsing the supremacy of the ARCISS over any decision he has taken and assenting to the supervisory directives of H.E. Festus G. Mogae who came to South Sudan with good intentions of helping the new country to exit fragility through peace, justice and prosperity so that any attempt for plan 'B' is aborted in shambles. 

Let's all converge on ARCISS implementation and other minor things shall get tackled harmoniously later with no abhorring bloodshed any more. Viva South Sudan Viva!

Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer of politics reachable at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

To where is the deterioration of security and the economy leading Sudan?

By Salah Shuaib

December 25, 2015 (SSNA) -- In following what is happening in Sudan, one cannot be sure about what issue should be addressed first. Perhaps people are unable to read all the bad news pouring out of the country via social media every day. Such stories reveal some of what is going on, but Khartoum’s media suffers under the restrictions of Sudan’s constitution and the theoretical interpretation of its contents. Moreover, the Sudanese media is restricted from reporting real news; articles that address the roots of events and issues are often suppressed by the government. In addition, print media is suffering from a decline in readership, a lack of journalistic professionalism, and daily confrontations with a heavy press industry. 

The biggest challenge now for Sudanese newspapers is how to deal with President Omar al-Bashir’s announcement that he intends to care personally about the media. The president’s statement struck many in the press as threatening in tone. Of course, the private media channels owned by Sudanese Islamists have been eager to hide the truth by distracting people with programs that do not deeply address serious issues, but footnotes. 

The news leaked from inside the country barely tells us about the cruelty of the regime. Now, Sudanese officials are worried by the news covering the lack of security throughout the Sudan’s territories, including within the capital. From the first look, one will find that the roots of this problem arise from the erosion of the country’s security institutions and the judiciary’s long-standing ignorance of its responsibilities. This failure shows us that the regime’s basic priority is to maintain its own safety and security, not that of all Sudanese citizens. 

Journalistic writing on the situation in Sudan has become pointless. Given the obvious failure of the Islamist experiment, it seems unwise to suggest that achieving peace and security requires ending the war through negotiation with forces still carrying weapons, or expediting judicial procedures, or supporting the government’s forces with cars or, as the president said, using the country’s entire budget to fund the army to protect Sudan. What is strange is that some political figures and senior opposition writers are calling for reforms within the country’s security institutions to enable them to protect citizens in areas of conflict. 

Addressing the security issue in Sudan will not be achieved by issuing political statements that appeal to power to stop the war without available governmental mechanisms to do so. The deterioration in security cannot be stopped by publishing disinterested articles that call for the resignation of the minister or the director general of the police for their failure to maintain peace in the country. 

To be sure, the issue of peace and security in Sudan is connected to the nature of the authoritarian power structure that brought the lives of its citizens to this critical juncture. The issue can only be practically addressed via the creation of a state that is satisfactory to the Sudanese citizenry. There are three ways by which this theoretical state may be brought into being: (1) if Islamists were to decide to give up power in exchange for participation in an interim government, (2) if the regime were to be toppled by a popular revolution, or (3) if the country’s armed forces had the power to change the regime in favor of the state of citizenship, as they advocate. But it is foolish to imagine that Sudan’s Islamists will hand over power to the people voluntarily. In all likelihood, the security situation will continue to deteriorate; thus, it is fair to say that the fate of Sudan lies in the hands of God. 

As for the country’s economic state, there are many oddities. While the Minister of Finance says that “hard currency rises for psychological reasons”, the economic situation has become commonplace, in looking to the structural deficit in helping the position of national currency. 

Sudan’s economic news discloses how Islamist corruption has affected people’s lives. The state has become a slush fund for Islamists who control its resources, trade, and investments without transparency and accountability. They have spent all of the state’s oil revenues, destroyed agricultural projects, and exploited usurious loans that created wealthy companies for governmental officers. It appears that the Merawi Dam was not a practical answer for opposition parties, but rather a way to facilitate corruption and to bury Chinese industrial waste, as the media later discovered. 

There is no need to put forth evidence of the elements that have worsened living conditions of Sudanese citizens, who have stopped participating in industrial, agricultural, and livestock production, or whether, as a result, these citizens have emigrated, gone searching for gold, been concentrated in camps for displaced persons, enlisted in armed movements, and so on. 

In light of this societal development, Sudan’s Islamists turned out to be the biggest investors in the Gulf countries’ subsidies, notwithstanding the latter’s being in violation of their political principles and its endangerment of the lives of our troops engaged in Yemen’s war, in which sectarian, regional, and international conflicts intersect. 

President Bashir has shown us that, for the sake of his own personal safety, he is ready to sacrifice the lives of these thousands of helpless Sudanese sent to Yemen to fight on behalf of another state. He and his inner circle unashamedly promise Sudanese that these subsidies will boost the country’s treasury resources to soon alleviate the suffering of the citizenry. States are not administered by outside subsidies, however, but by facilitating instruments for production and employing the minds of economists, agricultural experts, and other professionals to better the conditions of the country. But how does the Islamist experiment benefit from the efforts of others it originally came to get rid of their duties, despite their high qualifications and achievements? 

For the foreseeable future, there appear to be no ready solutions for the security, economic, and other problems affecting the lives of Sudanese citizens. The country’s tragedy will continue worsening until the occurrence of one of the scenarios anticipated by a number of political experts. Perhaps the regime’s opponents and respected readers are aware of these scenarios and their potential consequences. But the question is, for how long will non-politicized elites continue in their ignorance of supporting the mobility of the people to get rid of Islamist despotism (this if we imagine that the elites involved in politics have failed to play their major role)?

Salah Shuaib is a Sudanese writer and journalist. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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