Dear All Delegates of the Opposition groups,
Ref: Determining the future of South Sudan
Allow me to address you, on this great day of our history, as you sit down in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to deliberate on the Revitalisation of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), signed on 15th August 2015. Matthew chapter 22:14 says “many are called but few are chosen”. You are called to represent the suffering people South Sudan. As you all are very aware about how Gen. Salva Kiir, flagged (16) reservations against the ARCSS from the outset and, wasted no time to dismantle the agreement right from the minute it was inked, beginning with the creation of 32 states, when he knew clearly well, that he was violating the peace agreement. President Salva Kiir took this decision in the full knowledge that he had no mandate whatsoever, to do so in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
Some of the reservations include the refusal to accept SPLM/IO claim that they had soldiers in Equatoria and Bahr El-Ghazal, and instead, the government launched an attack on the bases where opposition soldiers were gathered for cantonment; and the refusal to demilitarisation of the capital, Juba. These are only a few examples of the 16 reservations raised by Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit. I believe that many of you are fully aware of the rest of the reservations.
It is a common knowledge that the crises in South Sudan started as a quarrel within the leadership of the SPLM party, which was a clear power struggle between Gen. Salva Kiir and Dr. Riak Machar. This resulted into the wanton massacre of hundreds of thousands of Nuer in broad daylight in Juba on December 16th 2013. This was followed by subsequent revenge massacre of Dinka in Bor by Gen Peter Gadet Yak of the SPLM/IO.
These crises exposed the incompetence of Gen Salva Kiir as chairman of the SPLM and commander in chief of SPLA to steer the country through difficult times. For even if Dr. Riak Machar could have been considered as a power hungry individual, Gen Salva Kiir, being the president, should have shown leadership and navigate the country out of this situation without having to pursue the path of war as the only solution to the crisis.
Effects of war
To insist in pursuing a war of attrition against one community in the desire to “bring Dr. Riek Machar dead or alive”, throughout the country, and destroying villages, pillaging everything, raping girls from as young as 3 years to as old women as 85 years is unforgivable crime.
As a consequence, today, 1.8 million of our innocent people have been sent into forced refugee to the neighbouring countries including, humiliatingly the very Sudan from which South Sudan broke away. Another 2 million are internally displaced. The country is at a brink of famine of a biblical scale, as Gen. Kiir’s government imposes taxes on international organisations which are coming to help vulnerable populations in South Sudan.
It is important to recall that President Salva Kiir inherited a country that has the third largest proven oil reserve in Africa, the largest animal wealth in East Africa, it has the largest fish stock in the Nile Basin, and it has abundance of varieties of minerals and Agricultural potential that is the envy of many countries in the world. But due to lack of leadership skills, he failed to translate that potential into tangible development for the people of South Sudan.
Leaders who want to rebuild their economies are worrisome of risks of war; as that undermines confidence of potential investors. Today South Sudan economy has but collapsed. Instead of economic growth, it contracted by 2% in 2016 and continuing. Inflation reached about 300%, and the National debt is 5.6% of GDP. Every day, the war is costing the economy close to 1 million USD, in lost revenue. All because of the desire to stay in power.
Now, civil servants go for months-on-end without pay. Many walk on foot to their offices, to do nothing as there is nothing to be done, but leave early to go and look for food. In the foreign services, abroad, our embassies are closing for failure to pay rent.
Institutional tribalism and state capture has come to be accepted as the norm. It is a badge of honour, for which a handful of those surrounding Gen Salva Kiir can proudly claim, that the country is doing very well indeed. It is difficult not to draw a conclusion that the government of Gen. Salva Kiir, has collapsed, under his own watch.
Extensive corruption is deeply entrenched through Gen Salva Kiir’s network of cronies and relatives. In 2012 he wrote to supposed thieves to return the more than $4 billion US dollars they stole. Now we know from the Sentry Report that the President have equally looted and stashed away billions of public money. We also know that the Four billion was just a tip of the iceberg. The reality is that since 2005, South Sudan generated more than 21 billion US dollars as revenue from oil only. This figure excludes much of the funds that came in as grants and loans from various governments. The United States alone has spent more than 11 billion in South Sudan, alas, much of this money found its way into the pockets of your relatives and Ministers, with not a single development project to show as an accomplishment in the thirteen years (13) of your poor leadership. These statistics are not my own creation, they are there for anyone interested to know it.
Transitional Government of Technocrats (TGT).
The argument above, is to show to you, that the ARCSS that Gen. Salva Kiir had 16 reservations about, is the same ARCSS you are about to discuss. If he refused then, there is no reason to believe that this time round Kiir Mayardit will not refuse again to implement it.
Furthermore, being party to the crises both Gen Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar are the least interested to implement the agreement, given that some of the provisions are contrary to their personal and community interests.
A United position.
All those representing the people of South Sudan in the talks, be they oppositions groups, civil society organizations, Faith base entities, political parties and interested individuals are asked to put the interest of the people of south Sudan first, by uniting for a collective position on creation of a Transitional Government of Technocrats (TGT).
I therefore ask you to unite and present a proposal that would achieve the following goals:
Ensure President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his former vice president, Dr Riek Machar are kept out of the interim government;
Put in place a Transitional government of Technocrats (TGT), that will be charged with drafting a permanent constitution;
carry out all the required reforms including in the security sector;
Conduct general elections for which everyone including Gen. Salva Kiir and Dr. Riak Machar will have the right to contest.
We are all watching closely. Ensure the people of South Sudan are led down.
Gen. Lemi Logwonga Lomurö PhD (Cand)
Centre for Citizen Interface in South Sudan (CISS).
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this document are mine.