By: Justin Ambago Ramba
February 27, 2015 (SSNA) -- Following the conspicuous absence of President Salva Kiir Mayardit from what is largely supposed to be final round of the IGAD mediated Peace Talks for South Sudan, many observers begun to doubt the sincerity of the Juba administration to realise an inclusive just peace in a country ravaged by a civil war of its own making?
Also of concern to all is the implication of what seems to be an ill-intentioned absenteeism given the fact that any backtracking from previous signed positions by any of the principals of the two warring factions will adversely destroy any chances of bringing peace back to this new African country.
However there is much that in president Salva Kiir‘s absence than that meets the eyes. In a personal interview President Kiir gave a statement to the Ugandan Daily Nation in its Thursday, February 26, 2015 edition under the heading: “Why Machar will not be my Number 2”.
You may forgive me for not being keen to go into the details of President Kiir’s interview with the Ugandan Daily Nation which can be accesses following this link: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/politics/Kiir-Why-Machar-will-not-be-my-Number-2/-/1064/2636950/-/7sx1q/-/index.html
However for the purpose of this article it suffices to know that contrary to previously signed agreements between himself and Dr Riek Machar, the president has abundantly made it clear that he is reneging on all those agreements and won’t be sharing any power with Dr Riek Machar Teny, a man who served as his deputy for nearly eight calendar years.
Yet it all seems to me that President Salva Kiir Mayardit was not only being blatantly obvious, but what he said should in fact have been the case from the very beginning given the great visionary disparity and apparent incomparability and incompatibility between the two men.
And to be very fair to all – it really takes a lot of sacrifice from any learned person to accept being second to an individual like Kiir who shouldn't be presiding over a sovereign country to start with, although it was only those several unplanned events that brought him to the top office.
The African Union, the IGAD and the international community have all said that President Salva Kiir should have kept his word when he signed a deal to attend the final rounds of the Peace Talks that kicked off in Addis Ababa on 20/02/2015.
The United Nations Security Council and the US administration have both talked of possible sanctions plus or minus arms embargo on individuals or entities who directly or through their policies are seen to be blocking the progress of the peace talks.
Well to say the least, President Salva Kiir now squarely lies in that category of “spoiler” of peace and rightly deserves all sanctions from ban on global travel to freezing of assets, of course a heavy embargo on the flow of arms to his notorious army and allied militias.
It is equally important that the UNSC understand that the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) is part of the ongoing war in South Sudan and must also be included in the arms embargo and any other sanctions for that matter.
Any attempt to exclude President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda from facing similar sanctions as his partner in crime President Salvatore Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan will not bring about the anticipated outcome.
In fact the only way to have effective and water-tight sanctions is by including the Ugandan military and political leadership into the lot as a share of their role in sustaining the crazy war and directly engaging in the battles.
Museveni and his UPDF must taste their share of the bitter medicine soon to be declared by the UNSC, be it in the form of sanctions or ban on foreign travels or freezing of all assets and a total arms embargo.
It will not be too much for international justice to demand that both Museveni and his friend Salva Kiir Mayardit enjoy equal level of punishment. Together the duo are partners in the crime of setting South Sudan ablaze. This should remain so until such a time that they are both prepared to negotiate peace in good faith. I rest my case.
As for my fellow compatriots in the reform camp, urgently reconsidering our priorities where we stand now could mean the difference between succeeding and failing.
To allow for a timely achievement of the tabled list of reforms, it is necessary to adequately reprioritise these programs, for otherwise there is a real risk of not being able to implement them any time soon.
Informed by the quickly changing dynamics of both the political and socio-economic parameters of our joint struggle for a peaceful coexistence and regardless of whether at this stage one believes in the IGAD mediated talks or not, certain things are much of foregone issues.
However there is one truth that all reformists in South Sudan need to know at this particular point in time and it is the one fact that Salva Kiir and reforms can never coexist in the same administration. In other words there is no daylight between the two. Each one will do everything to obstruct and eventually eliminate the other.
So if you are indeed a person or a group who is contemplating to see reforms dawn in South Sudan then you are practically only left with this one single priority and that is to partake in the removal and disposal of Kiir administration from power as a first step towards any anticipated national reforms.
Salva Kiir Mayardit and his administration are the very opposites of reform and they can never at any time become your partners in actualizing any dreams which are more likely than not to bring an end to their corruption riddled existence.
Everyone who believes in reforms for that matter should have long known that allowing Salva Kiir to continue running the country under any pretext is in itself a defeat to the very realisation of any reforms how big or small they be.
It doesn't any more whether he extents his stay in power through a manipulated approval by his rubber stamped parliament or as a part of a hard won transitional government of national unity.
You are not expecting Salva Kiir to negotiate himself out of office and negotiate his bitter enemies (the reformists) into power, are you? I hope not, otherwise you are being naïve and rather simplistic.
For as top as Kiir is now on the list as the most powerful person in Juba (obviously not all over South Sudan any more), his removal from power should equally top the list of any constructive reform agenda aimed at salvaging whatever is left of our beautiful country.
It is only after getting the priorities right then and only then can reformists celebrate the start of a new dawn characterized by a good and focused campaign.
And regardless of how tough the implementation of each and every stage might seem, yet down inside we also know that every step the struggle takes is being informed by a total conviction not to compromise its very basics - the Peoples’ quest for Justice, Good Governance, Equality, Economic Prosperity, Accountability, Stability and Peaceful Coexistence which is now in full gear.
After all no one in their right state of mind will even for a second consider being second to Kiir as an end in itself.
In another turn of event I found it quite refreshing to read the article by Bol Mathieng A, titled: Lack of Accountability and Causes of Current Political Instability: A Case of South Sudan, which appeared in the southsudannation.com, Feb/26/2015, and SSN; http://www.southsudannation.com/lack-of-accountability-and-causes-of-current-political-instability-a-case-of-south-sudan/
Although it was ironically written entirely to project President Salva Kiir Mayardit as the only saint in the midst of SPLM political sinners, I still consider it another beautiful article in a long series of articles that not only condemn the rampant corruption that continues to engulf South Sudan, but also one that went on to suggest accountability as the way forward.
The article was absolutely on spot when it pointed out that the current sad state of affairs in the country could have been avoided if only we had a competent leadership and administration from the word go in 2005 to deter the widespread corruption and glaring impunity displayed by the incumbent Salva Kiir’s “rotten to core” administration .
However when we talk about the introduction of accountability as suggested by the author, Bol Mathieng A, as a one important aspect which has completely been absent since the beginning of the CPA era of the SPLM administration under Salva Kiir Mayardit, it will be an impartial demand to see to it that all are held responsible – from top to bottom or better still to put it in the authors’ own words,” regardless of the title of the culprit”.
Being in total agreement with Bol Mathiang in his suggestion for a national pursuit of an impunity free South Sudan as an entrance to a peaceful and stable South Sudan, although I wonder how much thought has he given to the fact that for such line of thought to succeed, it is paramount to hold each and every one who wronged the people of South Sudan accountable beginning with those who abused the public office the most!
In such a top down approach the weeding of corruption must start right at the top from the office of the president – then the naming and shaming can successful be allowed to proceed down that gradient.
The logic is that had the person at the top acted promptly on corruption from day one, given the fact that he wields more constitutional powers in the country than anyone else, then we would be today living in a corruption and impunity free South Sudan.
However no one should attempt to sell us the “too cheap” narrative that the president was indeed a saint in the middle of a cabinet of sinners who in fact were his own buddies.
Birds of the same feather flock together – and this explains why the president never took an action past his “in famous” letter writing, to either pin corruption right in the bud or to weed it afterwards.
For all practical purposes when cannot be so blinded to the obvious that the true salvation of South Sudan lies outside the incumbent administration, given the fact the administration all across its decade long history has repeatedly resorted to corrupt means of extracting loyalty from the few that it succeeded to blackmail using what literary amounts to an institutionalized trend of a nationwide corruption and impunity network.
You may agree with me that, ‘you can never straighten an object’s shadow without first straightening the object itself’.
Dr Justin Ambago Ramba, MD, is a physician, a columnist, a political blogger and a member of the Political Parties Delegation to the IGAD mediated Peace Talks for South Sudan.