September 2, 2014 (JUBA) – The SPLM former detainees have criticised the recently imposed protocol by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), describing it as "unfair, bias and unjust". They further said the document failed to make an approach that would bring peace and urged the regional body to review it.
- Former South Sudanese political detainees (from left to right) Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Majak d’Agoot, Pagan Amum and Oyai Deng Ajak at a trial hearing in Juba on 11 March 2014 (Photo: AFP/Andrei Pungovschi)
The IGAD’s protocol on principles of formation of transitional government was signed by the heads of state and government including the partner in war, president Salva Kiir, but was rejected by the leader of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM In Opposition), Riek Machar, describing it as bias.
The document endorses president Kiir to remain the South Sudanese president and will be deputised by a vice-president for the next two and a half years from the day the transitional government shall be formed. It also provides him with eligibility to run for the next presidential elections.
The protocol provided that a third position for a prime minister will be created and Machar’s SPLM-in Oopposition will nominate someone to fill the position. The person nominated by the rebels as prime minister will have to be approved first by president Kiir. Also the document says that the occupier of the prime minister’s position, which powers are yet to be determined, will not run for the next elections.
The former SPLM detainees, also known as G-10, have come out with a statement bearing strong criticisms to the IGAD document and urged the African regional body to review it as soon as possible if they were really working for peace in South Sudan.
In a strong-worded statement seen by Sudan Tribune, signed by the former minister of cabinet affairs, Deng Alor Kuol, who leads group’s delegation at the talks, they said the protocol has ignored the consensus reached by the stakeholders in the thematic committees formed by the IGAD envoys.
The statement criticised IGAD for moving away from the formula on transitional governance arrangements which the negotiation committees unanimously agreed on for power sharing between the president and the prime minister, saying the new document imposed by IGAD became an obstacle.
The statement further revealed that in the negotiations, the prime minister would be the chief executive of the government in charge of the day to day running of the government in which he chairs the cabinet.
“The Protocol confirmed President Kiir as both the Head of State and Government. The consensus of all stakeholders, except the Government delegation, was for the Prime Minister to be the Chief Executive in charge of the day to day running of the Government while the President performs the functions of Head of State,” partly reads the G-10 statement.
“The Protocol has ignored this consensus,” it says.
They also criticized the regional body for giving president Kiir the power to veto the nomination of the SPLM-IO to the position of the prime minister, saying this undermined the principle of power sharing and the choice of the opposition.
They said the document also bars nominee of the opposition from running in the next elections, while allowing both the president and his vice president to run for elections, saying the document also attempted to get rid of Riek Machar’s political future.
“This condition is unfair, unjust and discriminatory. Persons occupying the top three positions in the transitional Government are either all excluded from running for any public office in the next elections or permitted all without exception,” it says.
“Most surprisingly, Dr. Riek Machar, the leader of the opposition SPLM/A(IO) is completely excluded from the leadership of the transitional Government of National Unity, without giving him the option to participate or not. This position will not help the achievement of peace as it will be read as a defeat by the supporters of the SPLM/A (IO). It does not reflect a win-win solution.”
The Protocol has also rejected the position of the stakeholders to have two deputies or at least one deputy to the prime minister. Former detainees also demanded 25% allocation in the public positions in the transitional government.
The former detainees said they supported the creation of the prime minister’s office with the understanding that the prime minister shall be the head of government.
The former detainees further explained that they thought the IGAD document was meant to capture the consensus of the stakeholders as is evident from the first paragraph of the preamble.
“Unfortunately, the leaders of the region took over the document and became the principal owners as well as guarantors of the document to the exclusion of the stakeholders,” they charged.
The leaders urged IGAD to allow a genuine negotiation to take place when the talks resume in mid-September in order to address the fundamental issues to bring peace.
SPLM-DC REJECTS IGAD PROPOSAL
Meanwhile the main opposition party in South Sudan has distanced itself from the IGAD protocol, saying this was not the negotiated document.
SPLM-DC leader, Lam Akol, told reporters while returning to Juba that the document was “cooked somewhere” was never negotiated or agreed by the warring parties and the stakeholders.
He also criticised the delegation of president Kiir’s government, saying they were not good negotiators, accusing them of always using abusive language during the roundtable negotiations.
Akol warned that given the attitude by IGAD and government delegation, it would be difficult to achieve peace.
His reprehensive in parliament Adigo Anyoti, who is the minority leader in the South Sudanese parliament also told parliamentarians during Monday’s discussion in the assembly that the IGAD protocol failed to address the root causes of the conflict.
REGIONAL EXPERTS CRITICISE IGAD APPROACH
Regional analysts and experts have also criticized IGAD approach to the peace process, saying the imposed protocol on the warring parties will not bring peace to the region.
They said the proposal which was borrowed heavily from the Kenya’s previous, but now abandoned Grand Coalition government, will not yield fruits.
Analysts described IGAD’s mediation as “bias” and succumbing to what president Kiir wanted to hear.
“The agreement proposes exactly what President Kiir wants, formulated by the three presidents of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan and blessed by the prime minister of Ethiopia. Pre-packaged for signature. Where is the mediation then?” asked Tag Elkhazin, Peace and Security researcher with the Sub-Saharan Centre, which observes the IGAD led mediation.
He told The East African that the tone, quality and details of the IGAD document show there was no mutual and concessional discussion before it was produced and this understandably led to the rebels refusing to sign it.
Machar, analysts said, is the type of person “to not threaten easily and conflict has not broken him down.”
“That can only work if there is sufficient security extension to the office of the prime minister. In other words, how much resources and power does the office of the prime minister have to deliver the political intent of Dr Machar. But if it is not adequate, Dr Machar will not buy that,” said Simon Mulongo, a regional security expert and a legislator in Uganda.
Ugandan former chief of intelligence, David Pulkol, also criticized the document saying president Kiir could not be trusted to lead the needed reforms in South Sudan.
“President Kiir has been a president since the transitional government was formed in 2005. So, what different thing will he do now that he did not do in the past? Will Dr Machar be safe? Will his commanders be protected?” he asked.
Regional leaders however said the protocol was to stop the ongoing 8-month long conflict and bring peace to South Sudan.