Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 31 October 2018

Juba’s peace celebration: A commemoration of betrayal

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By Duop Chak Wuol

The anticipated peace celebration slated to take place on the 31st of October 2018 in Juba will be one of many things to monitor to see if South Sudanese rival leaders President Salva Kiir and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) leader Dr Riek Machar are serious about peace. The people of South Sudan desperately need calm to return to their country and Khartoum’s peace agreement could well deliver it. However, there are plausible reasons to believe that this deal appears to be an empowerment of the very oppressive system the armed opposition has been against. Kiir premeditated the celebration merely to widen his scheming strategy and to make sure he maintains an iron-fist on power with impunity. This seemingly self-serving commemoration is not just wrong — it is a glorification of his atrocious regime and a pure betrayal of democratic changes the South Sudanese have been fighting for nearly five years.

There is no doubt in my mind that Juba’s peace celebration under the theme, "Celebrating the Dawn of Peace, Appreciating Friends, Cherishing Reconciliation and Unity,” amounts to a commemoration of betrayal. There is nothing to celebrate here because real peace has not yet been implemented. This is pure deception at its best. The actual theme for this rather tyrannical glorification party should have been “Celebrating the Dawn of the Empowerment of Kiir’s Cruelty.” Kiir is known for being a brutal and cunning dictator drunk with power. His claim to prove he is serious about this peace deal through a self-promotion event is logically absurd. For instance, Kiir signed many peace deals with Machar and yet he violated them in a matter of hours, if not minutes. The man is known for thriving in deceit, always using flattery to get what he wants. He is eager to find ways to ensure he uses this pro-tyrannical treaty to cripple the armed opposition and make it ineffective so that he can continue ruling without any formidable opposition. Trusting Kiir on this pact would be an indisputable regret given his established record of using self-serving strategies to preserve his cruelty. Kiir is arguably a master of trickery when it comes to issues of national importance. He always says he will release all the prisoners linked to the SPLM-IO but has so far failed to do so. The current one-man constitution should have been amended before the proposed transitional government begins; again, Kiir intentionally demands that the constitution should only be amended four months after the transitional period begins. Any reasonable person would have a hard time understanding why the armed opposition and other parties believe that Kiir will allow the constitution to be amended. This is one of many indications that Kiir is using his flattery strategy, which has in the past served him well through this conflict. He has been using this very tactic in the East African region to make sure his atrocious regime maintains power so that he can continue raping, killing, and torturing South Sudanese.

Celebrating the Khartoum’s peace deal in Juba should not be a priority. The priority should have been for the government and the rebel leadership to order an utter ceasing of all hostilities. Kiir can simply end this madness by ordering all his military leaders to stop attacking any opposing force. But he is not doing it. His forces constantly attack the opposition forces while claiming that he is committed to the agreement. Machar should also do the same but the SPLM-IO military wing, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), seems to be on the defensive as evidence indicates. Nobody wants this agreement to be another 2016 disaster. If the SPLM-IO is truly working for reforms and serious about bringing about a lasting peace to the country, then it should not let itself be fooled by this theatrical celebration. Kiir is not about reforming the political system he established in the country. His main objective is to make sure every South Sudanese politician in the country follows his wishes, has a constitution that retains his one-man leadership mentality, and keeps appointing and dismissing public officials even if they were elected by their constituents. This is not a man people should waste their time imagining that one day he will change. The level of hate Kiir has against any reform agenda is immense. Kiir does not wish for the country to be a democratic society. His fantasy regarding Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s ruthlessness is what destroys South Sudan. Kiir is not normal. The man has established a fantasy of wanting to be feared.

There is absolutely no rationale behind celebrating peace before implementation. There are many logical reasons to believe that Kiir is very happy about the agreement because the pact itself would technically allow him to rule using the same tyrannical leadership techniques he has been using. One of the key plausible reasons Kiir embraces this deal is because it will be nearly impossible for any court of laws to prosecute him for his war crimes and the fact that the SPLM-IO and other opposition parties will not pose any threat to his leadership, especially legislatively, let alone amending the constitution to incorporate much-need democratic reforms. Salva Kiir is also thrilled with the fact that those who once opposed his ruthlessness will again live under his control. In a recent interview with Citizen TV Kenya, Kiir surprised the people by accusing Riek Machar of plotting a coup in December 2013 and in July 2016. These claims are outright lies. The people of South Sudan know for a fact that Kiir planned the two violent events. Salva Kiir did not even save Machar’s life as he wants people to believe. The only reason Machar survived in 2016 was the fact that it was impossible for Kiir himself to escape from the carnage because security guards protecting Machar inside the presidential compound were ready to use deadly force at any time of their choosing. The only choice for Kiir at the time was to order some of his guards to escort Machar to his house while secretly instructing his troops to attack Machar’s house. This man is a cunning tyrant with a history of deceiving people. His recent claim that he is ready to face the International Criminal Court (ICC) is simply a part of his calculating persona. He wants people to see him as a caring person when his record speaks for itself.

Kiir’s 2013 political madness has resulted in the death of at least 382,000 people, according to a report released by the UK-based London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last month. This man cannot be trusted by any sensible person. Kiir is a tyrant, war criminal, murderer, and money launderer who cannot be trusted. This is not the first time he tricked the SPLM-IO into believing that he was for peace. The July 2016 assassination attempt on Machar’s life must be enough for any thinking being to understand how this man is a cold-hearted leader with so much South Sudanese blood on his hands. The people of South Sudan want complete political reform in the country and the armed opposition needs to scrutinize the entire peace process to make sure its democratic vision stays alive. As such, the SPLM-IO — which has a history of claiming to be a champion of democracy in South Sudan should not settle on exchanging people’s freedom with positions. The South Sudanese have no interest in allowing Kiir to trade their rights with positions. If the SPLM-IO believes that exchanging freedom with political positions is just, then I wonder why it fought for nearly five years against Juba’s oppressive regime. If this assumption is the case, then it can be logically asserted that the SPLM-IO could be covertly working to rejoin its mainstream, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Machar’s faction appears to be ready to rejoin Kiir’s group so that they can resume their destructive leadership style. If this happens, the losers will be the people of South Sudan who have been hoping for political reforms in the country.

It is increasingly becoming clear that the SPLM-IO reform agenda is slowly being put on a deathbed by the SPLM-IO itself. The armed opposition must know that in any mature political discourse, the political base influences decisions. In recent months, the SPLM-IO appears more like a desperate entity trying to get whatever it wants to rejoin the very system it previously declared “dictatorial.” Kiir’s nonsensical peace celebration is an attempt to prove to the world that he is serious about peace. However, it is simply a public relations campaign seeking to promote his tainted image. The leadership of the armed opposition should not allow itself to be part of this disgraceful commemoration. Kiir’s atrocities should be labeled for what they are: reprehensible. His victims want justice served. However, if the SPLM-IO cannot transform the nation into a democratic country where justice is truly independent, then it must first explain to the South Sudanese why it believes it can change the existing South Sudanese political system into a democracy after it joined forces with Kiir’s government. The reality is that facts do not support the armed opposition’s democratic claim.

The people of South Sudan are not interested in seeing the SPLM-IO become another tyrannical political party in the country. For Kiir to call for a celebration of this questionable peace agreement without first implementing it does not amount to a demonstration of a real seriousness. We cannot allow a documented dictator to deceive people by trying to present himself as a good person through a bogus peace celebration. Kiir’s real character is clear. The man is the destructor of South Sudan who has killed hundreds of thousands of people simply because he wanted to be feared. This madness cannot be ignored. If Kiir is serious about peace, then he should prove it by changing the current anti-democratic constitution, releasing all prisoners, lifting the state of emergency, and ordering his troops to stop attacking opposition forces. The commemoration of peace in Juba is clearly a party of betrayal. This elitist pact is only good for those who are desperate for positions. Those who believe that this agreement will bring much-needed political reforms in the country are making fools of themselves. This agreement is purely accommodative, and the people of South Sudan should not allow job-seekers and peace-fakers to play with their rights. The sad reality is that this deal is a pro-Kiir pact and he is very happy about it. To hell with elitism in South Sudan.

The author can be reached at duop282@gmail.com.



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