By Jacob Odong
August 29, 2014- The East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is concluding a plan to allow for what they are calling a unity government for South Sudan. If Riek Machar agrees to the dubious plan, then the South Sudan opposition has already lost the entire game.
A unity government does not represent any change. And a unity government is not an interim government. If President Kiir is to lead that proposed so-called unity government, Machar supporters have no way of ever beating Kiir in elections. The plan is also said to create a “prime minister” (PM) position for opposition party.
The PM position that IGAD wants to create to appease a single man is fatally deceptive and not useful for resolving the South Sudan conflict. What South Sudan needs is a landmark constitutional change to address its chronic tribal-based political problems for all of South Sudanese, not just to appease Dr. Riek Machar or Mr. Salva Kiir. The 2007 Kenya political ills yielded an empty PM position for Kenya’s leading opposition party.
Mr. Raila Odinga filled that the PM position but which proved very meaningless and in the end Raila rightfully ended up losing elections to Mwai Kibaki. Odinga even quarreled with Kibaki over his prime ministerial powers. The power boundaries were extremely murky. Kibaki was always over ruling Raila Odinga in power issues.
But the Kenyan political reforms had one major constitutional change attached to it. That single most significant reform was the presidential term limit instituted to prevent presidents overstaying in power. That was what ended up saving Kenya. The electoral commission reform turned out useless because it remained politically partial up to the last Kenyan elections, whereby, Odinga had to challenge its ruling in court and he miserably lost it allegedly because of judges that still supported Kibaki’s political party. Reforms in that arena had not yet taken off from the ground. Machar is now beginning to lose sight despite showing strength at the early stages of his rebel movement.
It is unthinkable to hear that Riek Machar is allowing Kiir’s friends Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Uhuru Kenyatta to call the shots for South Sudan political reforms. Machar also recently sent his men to Kampala to meet with Museveni and begged him to help in resolving the South Sudan problems. And yet it was Museveni that went to Juba and held a press conference warning Machar that IGAD would defeat him.
If the unity government plan becomes workable, IGAD will likely demand that Machar’s rebels effectively disarm before taking the PM position it will create to meet their needs. And that would be a big loss for Dr. Riek Machar’s group.
Looking critically at the S. Sudan problems, the formation of a unity government is the dumpiest way forward ever. Unity government is not an interim government. What South Sudan needs is an independent interim administration that leaves out both Mr. Machar and Mr. Kiir for the betterment of it. The interim administration can then organize a free and fair presidential election within 12 months. Machar and Kiir may run for the presidency just as any other South Sudanese. During this interim process, Machar should hold on firm to his rebel army and to the land under his military control. Machar’s rebel movement is the driving force behind the reforms. South Sudanese must not forget this fact. Without the rebel movement, South Sudan wouldn’t be at this point talking about reforming its political system.
It is so sad indeed that not even the United States of America can guide South Sudan in resolving this conflict. This is further indication of Obama administration’s weak and bankrupt foreign policy dilemma. This failure is apparent even when it was United States that was instrumental in helping South Sudan gain political independence. The Obama administration is not interested in getting to know the root causes of the South Sudan conflicts. Obama’s administration is giving Salva Kiir the upper hand and allowing him to remain dictating the politics of ruins in South Sudan. African leaders are still many steps away from achieving the necessary moral standing to resolve their own political problems.
The hardcore fact is that IGAD is a unity front for East African dictators and strongmen. IGAD will therefore not deliver any lasting and genuine peace for South Sudan. IGAD itself is part of the problem and not the solution to the South Sudan conflict.
Mr. Jacob Odong is journalist by profession. He also served as school teacher and he lives in the United States of America. For comments on this article contact Mr. Odong at Kapplan11@yahoo.com.