By Luke K Yiech July 13, 2016
It counts almost three and half years from now since South Sudan entangled into conflict instigated by the claimed Coupe on December 13, 2013. President Kirr accused his party, SPLM, political leaders of conspiring coupe against him a matter he responded military to liberate them off the system.
However, the violence slide from political table and claimed tens of thousands civilian lives that its records proved killing were conducted door-door targeting one ethnic line, the Nuer, where Dr. Machar ethnically belong to. The Nuer (SPLA deserted military forces and youths or White Army) and associated dissatisfy groups join hands and resisted the Kiir political violence’s that spiralled the war to every corner of the country, Greater Upper Nile in particular which is mainly inhabited by the Nuer.
Uganda forces, UPDF, immediately jump into confrontation with rebelled group, SPLA/M-IO, in support for President Kirr.
A situation which gives doubt to many observers that President Museveni may have been in coordination and well prepared for intervention before Kiir military decision.
International and regional communities soon called for the ‘Cessation of Hostilities and Cease Fire’ and ‘Peace Deal Negotiation’ nearly two weeks after the onset of conflict and trust the will to the IGAD. It took more than two years to sign the
agreement and takes another eight months to make a step for substantive implementation in April
- Regardless of the incentive to Peace Parties, the peace approach and the presentation of root
cause in the outcome, the ARCSS, has created many doubts and prospects.
Among many other circumstances on the process, Pres. Kirr refused to sign the agreement but few days later he eventually signed with a book of reservations in annex. He supplemented his resistance with words that involves: “I am forced to sign this peace … this peace is not for implementation … I become a child who is being told to do this and not to do this … international communities are Careless …”.
In respond to pushed ARCSS deal, Kiir used to say: “The document is not a Bible or Quran” which means it just a paper that can be change any time. He further pursues his stand of dissatisfaction and said “International community has been changing promises, they told me to sign peace, I signed … they ask for formation of TGoNU … I formed it, … they are now saying lack of the political will for the implementation and others … but they did release the fund”. “ …
How can a hungry person listen to you to talk peace? … ”.
On frustration, he boldly said, “They are changing word … this Peace Agreement is not for implementation …” just few days before the deadly clash started on the 8th of July 2017. However, all these in his words means there is no peace and I am not responsible.
In another words; rebels’ leadership, the military Generals and Commands in particular, expresses their deep concerns on the Peace Agreement that eventually led into disintegration. Those with firm stand against regional and international pressure like General Gatdet, the former deputy chief of Staff for
SPLA-IO, has eventually find their way out of the match to Khartoum where he remained an observer to ARCSS Implementation. The lions with no fear accepted the pressure and take the ladder to Juba with AK-47s to play with the fire. Though it was very risk as now conferred, it was very encouraging and applauded decision as the crisis has put tens of thousands to death and millions into unfathomable suffering. Hope shined in face of all south Sudanese and peace lovers to achieve peace after Dr. Machar arrival to Juba and his immediate inauguration as First Vice President of Republic of South Sudan.
However, these steps were not just on silence. The two top Generals, SPLA-IO Chief of Staff Gen. Gatwec Duel and his Deputy Gen. Koang C Ranley, were warning the world that “We are going to Juba … No one is coming back … No one will leave Juba again”. In words, they were sending a message that it is not reliable peace but we will not avoid the war if the said agreement will not work, we will better die in Juba as their massive forces was cut to remain behind by the agreement. The word were also spoken on the burial of two SPLA-IO military intelligence officers who were killed cold blooded by the SPLA-IG in Juba just few days before the clashes.
Today, many peace lovers seem to have been caught in surprise by recent clash that claimed hundreds of lives, a figure which I afraid maybe thousand, in three days including regional and International communities. Many questions are pouring in and being posted. What is the cause of the war? How did it start? Who command the forces to fight? Why it take long for political leadership and general commands to call for Cease fire? The satisfactory answer from the J1, Juba Palace, so far is we don’t know. For some, it is answer which is not expected from the State House. But to me Pres. Kiir is correct one aspect. As a man who attends the class of multi-cultures, I believe in challenge of cultural differences. Cultural differences create unspeakable misunderstanding or radical violence.
For that matter, it cannot be addressed in term of being problematic but it would manufacture deadly violence for those who did not spend or less attends the class. I believe in this empirical scientific claim.
However, IGAD, AU, UN, and Troika were busy stretching their muscles on the warring parties to sign the agreement that did not address the root cause, and resisted by petitions and words even after finally signed. In this juncture, regional and international organs failed to understood or deliberately ignored, if not both, the cultural differences and connotation of ‘word’ and ‘signature on book’ in south Sudanese culture and politics.
In general Africa tradition, South Sudanese in particular, have nothing much to do with ‘book and pen’ to negotiate peace that built trust in their culture. Of course, this is a tradition in West, they believed in its importance and it has worked best on thousands of Treaties for centuries as leaders trust their
signature as like their words. Generally speaking, South Sudanese, Nuer and Dinka in particular, believe in words. Elders are respected and resolve conflicts in their respective community because of the claimed sense of neutrality in their words. People are trusted for their words. Leader is respected of his/her words. In this camp, Father and/or Mother Word are the law and Bible regardless of their positions. The word kill and it safe live on the same end. They have nothing much to do with ‘book and pen’ to negotiate and establish sustainable peace. They don’t have a culture of ‘Cease fire’ but value
‘Withdrawal’ from the frontline to regain momentum of re-attack. For them, cease fire mean
surrendering to enemy and accepting the defeat in cultural languages. This is a point of my argument.
Culturally, President Kiir and Gen. Paul Malung are correct to say they didn’t what cause the deadly
clash and why it was not controllable for at least three days. They assume that everyone know that
they have declared the war as they speak it but no one have ever question their words or stopped them. And walking your talks is the true man feature in their ‘village culture’. For them, silence on the spoken words also means acceptance or ‘go ahead’ from international community. The regime mouthpieces like Amb. Gordon Buay, South Sudan ambassador in US and Makuey Lueth, Ministry of Information, have spoken the war message very clearly for long but operators were late to start the engine.
Now the engine is on because no one answered them. They perceived that it was a green light to drive on massive killing as usual. I believe Juba SPLM/A political leadership, the commanders, and loyal forces are all still in this cultural stadium, if not, many.
Mathiang Angoor and their home town Commanders have nothing to do with ‘Book and Pen’, nor ‘International war law’, or claimed ‘Sanctions’ neither. That is why civilian, International partners, UN staffs and Premises are targeted. It should not be a surprise.
They have a plan B already to go to their respective cattle camps once the mission is accomplished and once no peace is restored in the region. They have no concern on signed ARCSS and live of innocent civilian as enough public money are in cash at the Banks in the village to start cattle farming.
On this regards, only international community should face blame for not responding to ‘village fellow men standard communication for whatever reason. In my culture, mediator(s) always speak the truth, they count on everyone words, and they establish peace.
One party failure to abide to agree terms amount to other parties taking side of the victim that lead to severe punishment. I believe African fellow know this very well and we should act now. It is a very big mistake to copy and pasted Western peace traditions and culture to African life like South Sudan with much more marginalized societies.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on tweeter: @ylukeyiech