Opinionista Hüstin Läkü 12 April 2019

To the peace ambassador, Ismail Wais: Your role in South Sudan is biased and unethical

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan is being made far worse by ethnic divisions, a scramble for the country’s oil, timber and other resources, and by bias against some of the parties by the designated peace ambassador Ambassador Wais, the Inter-governmental Authority on Development Special Peace Envoy to South Sudan, according to this open letter, which is a searing critique of his alleged role in exacerbating the conflict.

Dear Ambassador Ismail Wais,

I am writing in response to your letter dated 1 March 2019, Invitation to a meeting in Addis Ababa. In your letter you labelled non-signatories from the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) – members who refused to buy into the flawed and fake Khartoum Peace Agreement (KPA) – as being “spoilers and (shall) be held accountable”.

I am outraged and gravely concerned about the use of undiplomatic language, unethical, unfair, unwise, one-sided and biased diatribe against the members of SSNDA. Your letter is designed to bully the National Salvation Front (NAS) and other opposition leaders into giving in to the complacency of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

I would like to respond to your letter by addressing the following: two concepts of mediators and facilitation; the imposed, flawed and fake Khartoum Peace Agreement; the real peace spoilers; IGAD’s bias; and deforestation in Equatoria. I will then draw my conclusion.

A mediator who presides over peace negotiations should be an impartial facilitator with no link to either party in a negotiation. He/she should have no interest in the substance of an agreement itself, but is, rather, concerned with the process of helping the parties reach a satisfactory agreement on their own.

Additionally, a credible and impartial mediator should facilitate and negotiate in “good faith”. Good faith is an important concept in any type of negotiation along with trust and honesty, which serve to minimise the gaps between the parties in the conflict.

The aim of a competent mediator is to minimise the gap between the regime in Juba and SSNDA and develop a holistic plan to address the root causes of the problems caused by the tribal government of President Salva Kiir; establish a framework to address and propose a fair way forward to address the root causes of the conflicts; propose a Confederate system of governance in the post-transitional period; and establish how to eliminate the culture of corruption with impunity, kleptocracy, administrative corruption, Dinkanization-Nuerization policy, institutionalised discrimination, political detention, and land-grabbing by members of the Juba regime.

By your actions, you are defending the interests of Kiir’s regime by imposing on the non-signatories of the flawed and fake KPA. Your biased KPA serves the economic and water resources interests of neighbouring countries of Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.

The non-signatories to the imposed, flawed and fake KPA are the truly credible groups who represent the interests of the vast majority of South Sudanese, especially the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the refugees, who have been forced out of their homes by the Kiir regime which you are defending. The Kiir regime has not only killed, raped, and driven South Sudanese into United Nations protection (UNPCO) and refugee camps, they have also stolen billions of South Sudanese resources, leaving the population poor and starving.

As you know, the imposed flawed and fake peace agreement serves only the interests of the leaders in the region who are facilitating and fuelling genocide in slow motion in Equatoria and harbouring looted public funds for development. They are concealing billions of stolen monies from South Sudan in their bank accounts in Egypt, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Western taxpayers would keenly want to see IGAD develop appropriate strategies to recover the stolen money so that it could be redirected to pay for the implementation of the peace process, and rebuilding health care and education systems and provide clean water to all. The theft of public funds is in itself a conflict driver and peace spoiler, but never SSNDA.

The peace spoilers are Egypt, Sudan and Uganda who deployed their troops to South Sudan to protect their economic interests – oil fields, illegal teak logging, gold mining businesses, and water and natural resources in the Equatoria States.

Additionally, the intervention of Sudan into the internal affairs of South Sudan is an attempt to revive the policy of Arabisation and Islamisation of South Sudan, and to remote-control Kiir to submit to the war criminal of Sudan. Such unwarranted and illicit interventions by Sudan and Uganda in the internal affairs of neighbouring member states runs counter to the African Union Principles of Non-Interference.

On 19 March 2019, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni wrote to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and stated that he stands by the AU Non-Interfering Principle: Interfering in the internal affairs of sister countries is wrong because, first of all, outsiders cannot understand situations of sister countries well”. And yet the same Museveni interferes in South Sudan’s internal affairs daily and deploys Ugandan troops to Equatoria States. Yet IGAD under your stewardship is giving a blind eye to the violation of the AU Non-Interference Principle.

The IGAD’s Non-Interference policy simply means that the AU and IGAD turn a blind eye to the illegal activities of the neighbouring states in South Sudan. Museveni is contradicting himself. Museveni is responsible for political instability in Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. He has intervened directly in the internal affairs of South Sudan, and IGAD is silent about it. Museveni is a clear conflict driver. He is the peace spoiler of the imposed, flawed and fake peace negotiation, and deforestation in Equatoria.

The IGAD principle objective for the establishment of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) in 1996 was to prevent deforestation and now the agency has chosen to turn a blind eye to the man-made deforestation in Equatoria States. The illegal logging business is a conflict driver, and Uganda and Kenya by engaging in illegal logging and mining are peace spoilers to the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) and the 2018 Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

The 2015 signing of the ARCSS reaffirmed the establishment of the UN/AU Hybrid Court to prosecute sanctioned SPLA illiterate generals and government officials who participated in and facilitated the senseless December 2013 and June 2016 ethnic conflicts that targeted the Nuer people, as well as the perpetration of war crimes against humanity. and money laundering.

Once again IGAD under your leadership failed the hopes of victims of rape and crimes against humanity. This is why the survivors are unwilling and afraid to leave the UNPCO camps. The donors, friends of IGAD and victims of the 2013 and 2016 ethnic conflicts are anxiously waiting to see justice done. They are watching with eagle eyes to see when IGAD would embark on advocacy to rally support for the establishment of the UN Hybrid Court.

Currently, there is ongoing forceful recruitment in eight states: Yirol, Rumbek, Twic, Tonj, Gogrial, Gok, Aweil (known as Aweil Algadim or Old Aweil), and in Bhar Al Ghazal. President Kiir and Akol Koor, Director South Sudan National Security Service (SSNS), tasked and directed Major General Lual Wek and Angelo Taban to carry out forced recruitments. So far over 9,000 ethnic Dinka men have been recruited.

The illegal, one-tribe recruitment policy runs against the current KPA. Yet IGAD remains totally silent about it. This is deafening. If there is any greater danger for South Sudan and a real peace spoiler, it is the forceful recruitment of one tribal group at a time when SSNDA is calling for the formation of one national army that reflects the national character of 64 ethnic groups in the country.

Excluding other parties in the conflict from renegotiating R-ARCSS is another conflict driver.

In your letter you indicated that there is to be no renegotiation of R-ARCSS: yet you re-engaged Paul Malong who was not a party to R-ARCSS and invited him to be part of R-ARCSS, while on the other hand, you excluded the following parties: General Cosmas WoriKojo, Chairman of the National Resistance Front (NRF), Dr Hakim Moi of PDM, and Mr Taban Julu of PDM. Both Dr Moi and Mr Julu are parties to R-ARCSS as well as members of the diaspora in North America, Europe and Australia. They participated in the talks.

The above example is evidence that IGAD is clearly playing the politics of indifference and discrimination, and it has become a carbon copy of the Juba regime.

Your one-sided and arrogant letter undermines human rights and the rights of the voiceless, the innocent, the Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) in UNPCO, and the victims of the Juba regime who are still living in the UN camps (UNPCOs). Your legacy will be remembered as that of a failed mediator who was responsible for selling out the peace process, leading to the betrayal of millions of people. You betrayed the aspirations of victims of ethnic cleansing, and the urge to help by donor states and friends of IGAD.

If the situation does not change, your legacy will be remembered as being the mouthpiece of the Juba regime, the sellout peace envoy who has betrayed the region and who has chosen to go against all principles of conflict resolution and facilitation. Instead, you are now leading the fight on behalf of the unelected Juba regime’s interests.

You seem to want to exonerate the burning issues of the tribal government of Kiir and his tribal advisers of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) that led the country into senseless ethnic civil war, a war which has claimed thousands of lives and driven millions to refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

For the SSNDA, you will be remembered as a toothless bully mediator who tried to impose unreasonable conditions on the authentic voices for the voiceless. From this, I can envisage that your next move might be to lock up General Thomas C Swaka under house arrest in Ethiopia or even hand him over to killers in Juba. This is very clear from your threatening language.

For the suffering church of South Sudan, the relatives of the late Reverend Lasu of Yei – who appeared before Adama Dieng, the UN’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and was murdered by the SSNS – and rape victims, you will be remembered as the mediator who failed to hold the Juba regime accountable for the rape of Western aid workers, and all violations of the peace agreement.

For the conflict and development analysts and policy-makers, you will be remembered as the promoter of the oppressor, and a mediator that asserts the economic interests of neighbouring countries into agreement and who supercedes the interests of the South Sudanese.

Your proposed solution is only dealing with the symptoms, rather than the root causes of ethnic civil war. Unfortunately, IGADs’ approach to peace is harmful, manipulative and lacks an overall solution to the main problems created by the tribal government in Juba.

In a nutshell, if Kiir himself has confirmed that R-ARCSS is a flawed peace agreement and it is not going to deliver good governance and economic development, then why on earth are you trying to drag SSNDA into it, while knowing very well that it is not going to effect any positive changes in people’s lives?

The Juba regime has failed to pay public servant salaries for over six months, failed to improve living standards, provide security, and ensure the development of basic service delivery to effect changes in people’s lives.

There are many still living in the UNPCOs in Juba and other parts of the country – are you blind to all of these? How could you call your peace a just peace? Peace without justice is not peace.

The real peace-spoilers are the IGAD and its leadership; Uganda, Kenya, Egypt and Sudan; President Kiir’s tribal Jieng Council of Elders; Kiir himself; and the forced recruitment of Dinka ethnic youth – not the members of the SSNDA.

I call on IGAD, the AU, the Troika, and friends of IGAD to seriously consider Swisspeace, IofC International, Professor Vern Redekop of CICR, Jeff Mapendere of the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation (CIIAN) and the NCPA to replace Ambassador Ismail Wais before it is too late. DM


In other news...

South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.

On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government - mission accomplished.

And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.

However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.

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