By Juol Nhomngek Daniel
The presence of peace agreement without peace does not mean the present of peace. It is worse when the country is in dilemma of no war, no peace. What constitutes peace anyway? Is it defined by staying in secured zone by the leaders or freedom of ordinary citizens to live and enjoy life within the limit laid by law as they wish in the country? Does the presence of the Revitalized Agreement amidst the rampant in security means the presence of peace in South Sudan?
When we go into the definition of peace, we can answer the above question in negative. Peace has been defined as the state of tranquility or quiet. It is freedom from civil disturbance or a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom. Peace in other words, is freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. Peace is therefore harmony in personal relations in given community. Peace does not mean the presence of well-armed organized forces. Peace means respect for law and order, rule of law and human rights.
If the applied the concept of peace as defined above, we can conclude that there is neither peace nor war in South Sudan, which means that there is a state of disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. Hence, it is only those who are benefiting from war who believe that South Sudan is in peace. They will not agree that we must work hard to achieve total peace until they fall in wrong hands since there is no law to protect them.
What we currently have in South Sudan is mild continuation of December 2013 conflict which is put in disguised form of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. As we all know, several attempts to end the 2013 conflict and to bring everlasting peace have ended up in fiasco as it we witnessed in 2016. The present Revitalized Agreement which is being sabotaged within was another attempt in 2018 to put to an end the December 2013 Conflict in South Sudan.
Out of the Revitalized Agreement, the government of National Unity that was formed to implement it. The Government of National Unity was therefore supposed to implement the Revitalized Agreement within three years of the Transitional Period that began in 2018 and then after that the country would have had permanent Constitution and held the general elections to have the new government in 2021.
However, three years from 2018 to 2021 went by and several extensions had been made to ensure that everlasting peace is achieved in South Sudan. Unfortunately, those who sabotage the quick implementation of the Revitalized Agreement continue with their work. As a result, the country is placed in very serious predicaments as it is now facing unprecedented situation of no peace, no war while the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement is moving at snail pace.
The current process of the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement is a major concern to all the patriotic citizens, regional and international bodies. It raises several issues concerning peace, security and the future of South Sudan. One of the issues the slow implementation of revitalized Agreement raises is, what is the future of youth or the country called South Sudan?
Majority of youth in South Sudan are not clear of what their future will be as they spend most of their time under trees or in warfront against each other in different forests of South Sudan. The ultimate question that this reflections raise is whether in the current process of implementation, the Revitalized Agreement will achieve everlasting peace in South Sudan.
As a matter of fact, the way the implementation process of the current agreement being carried out leaves much to be desired. Unless otherwise improved, it may kill the Agreement itself, which explains the title of this article. Thus, the title of this Article is, implementing peace to kill peace, which is the politics of the day in South Sudan. The reasons for choosing this title are as explained below:
First, deliberate delay in the speedy implementation of the Revitalized may kill the Agreement in the long run. For instance, the process of the graduation of the necessary unified forces as required by the Agreement itself is not followed. Several deadlines have been missed and even after the graduation nothing has changed. The graduated members of the necessary unified forces are at the present left in worse positions than before. As a result, some have already melted back into their previous mother units or communities or their militia groups. This has already become a source of threat to peace and it may kill the Revitalized Agreement with time.
Moreover, and in relation to the aforementioned point, the members of the necessary unified forces that were graduated recently have now found themselves stranded as they are left in nowhere. They are neither in training sites, camps nor are they being treated like the members of the national organized forces. This has created very dangerous situations as it is dangerous to live well-trained forces without being engaged because they can be a threat to the peace, security and stability of the country. Hence, this situation if not handled with care and to respond with quick action, it may kill peace itself.
Second, there is a clear sabotage towards forming the national army in general. This is because graduating highly trained and professional members of organized forces may deprive individuals who are currently getting some benefits out maintaining militias of such benefits. It is for this reason, the graduation of necessary unified forces in Bahr El Ghazal and most of Upper Nile regions is becoming more difficult if not impossible.
Moreover, the slow graduation of unified forces and instigation of the attacks on training sites of the oppositions is another method of indirectly killing the Revitalized Agreement. For instance, the recent attacks of the SPLM-IO training sites in Unity State, in Upper and Western Equatoria States show clear intention to destroy the Agreement through its slow implementation.
Those who behind the attacks are the one who are slowing down the implementation of Security Arrangements so that they have an opportunity to annihilate the SPLM-IO forces, which is the only strong force to reckon with. The rationale is that with time the current graduated unified forces will disappear into their tribes due to hardships that they have been facing after leaving training sites and in the end we slide back to the period before the graduation of unified forces.
If the Government of National Unity does not does not speedy up the process of the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement and the Chapter II on the Security Arrangement fails, the Revitalized Agreement will fail and the country will slide back into constitutional crisis.
Third, the slow implementation of the Revitalized Agreement due to deliberate denial to release funds by the individuals in charge of our national resources has limited service delivery to the public which has made the relevant authorities ineffective to control persistent intercommunal violence. As the REJMEC noted in its recent report of 1 June to September 30, 2022, the intercommunal violence has remained as the biggest threat to the protection of civilian and humanitarian workers, which is aggravated by the limited access to justice and rule of law.
Consequently, many communities who failed to have accessed to government services in respect to justice, law and order and rule of law have turned to their kinship for justice and protection which has increased intra and intercommunal violence across the country. Unfortunately, the co-existence of the Revitalized Agreement in towns and its absence among rural communities has put the country in dilemma of no peace, no war. Because of this, the communities across South Sudan are facing existential threats from intra and intercommunal violence, which is aggravated by floods that have destroyed various properties and inflicted immeasurable harms on the civil population in the watch of the government which is struggle to implement the Revitalized Agreement amidst the grave sabotage within.
It should be noted that floods and intra and intercommunal violence are pushed factors that caused more community violence and added more fuel to the national conflicts across South Sudan. Many youth join conflict not because they like it but because they see it as better alternative or has more opportunities than the situation prevailing in different parts of South Sudan. Sadly, some individuals in the government maintain the conflict as a means of getting more resources as well as the way for them becoming more powerful.
Those individuals who are beneficiaries of war or conflict, are the same persons who are currently sabotaging the effective implementation of the Revitalized Agreement. Hence, subjecting the civil population and members of organized forces to untold sufferings caused by the omission by the government which has failed to perform its duty to protect citizens. Instead of intervening to save the civil population, the Government of National Unity is only engaged in politics within towns at state levels and in national level in Juba city.
If this dilemma of no peace, now war continues for a long time, it can suffocate the Revitalized Agreement and the country will descend into more crises than before. This is important to note as failure by the government to address the challenges facing South Sudanese as soon as possible may kill the current peace Agreement itself and peace in South Sudan in general. Hence, it is important to point out that the current politics in South Sudan is implementing the Revitalized Agreement to kill the Agreement and the peace itself that was intended to bring.
Fourth, the restriction of political space as it is seen in the indirect detention of His Excellency Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the First Vice President and the Chairman of the SPLM-IO and for other members of the oppositions across South Sudan is part of sabotaging the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement. This is because it is intended to slow down the effective and speedy implementation of the Agreement. This further shows that the Agreement is just intended to be for accommodation for opposition members who are just required to take national resources without questioning the failure of the government to deliver services to civil population.
Fifth, restriction on the Parliamentary powers and the assumed supremacy of the Executive arm of Government has affected effective operation of and delivery of services to citizenry by the government as a whole. For instance, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs is doing his own things while the country is affected by floods and conflicts. He only supplies humanitarian supports to the people of his home area not even the whole of Warrap State simply because the Parliament does not have powers to question him.
Moreover, the governors in all ten states are not giving enough support to the State Legislative Assemblies while the National Parliament is too weak to question the negative activities of the governors towards the State Parliaments. The failure of the State Parliaments has caused the failure of the State and local governments to delivery services to the grassroots which has made it hard to implement the Revitalized Agreement at there.
In summary, the failure to implement the reform agenda in the Revitalized Agreement on time may lead to the failure of the Revitalized Agreement. It is therefore recommended that for this country to be saved, the Government must begin the extended transitional period in higher note so that the citizens have hope for future. The country where citizens have hope is the country where peace prevails as the hope represents the future. The government must be serious on those who sabotage the Revitalized Agreement within the Government. His Excellency Dr. Riek Machar, the First Vice President and the Chairman of the SPLM-IO must be granted full freedom to assume his full duty under the Revitalized Agreement.
NB//: the author of this Article is the lawyer by Profession and he is a politician who represent Cueibet County in Lakes State in RTNLA, Juba South Sudan on the ticket of the SPLM-IO. He can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org