June 16 2017
National Committee for External Relations
Summary Responses to the Communique of 31st Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of IGAD Heads of State Government
on South Sudan
The statement of IGAD Summit is disappointing to the SPM/A-IO; it appeases Juba regime and JMEC instead of addressing the Agreement that needs resuscitation. We, as a movement, have to pursue a multilateral approach, a combination of diplomacy and war. We are open to the mediation talks while placing our forces on offensive on the ground; this is how we will win this war.
Although the Chairperson of JMEC has finally come to his sense by releasing a statement, which looks good diplomatically, JMEC and IGAD leaders have made a big fallacy by recognizing Taban Deng Gai as if he has an existing group that he represents in South Sudan. It’s unfortunate that the IGAD leaders have been talking about 2018 election as a way of rescuing President Salva Kiir instead of focusing on resolving the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. The leaders of IGAD will always protect Salva Kiir as long as he is still in charge of South Sudan to protect their interests in the region.
The IGAD document didn’t even mention us by name, the IGAD leaders in article 16 only referred to us as “estranged parties”. We can use this article to our advantage. The Summit avoided all the necessary means to bring about a peaceful solution to the current crisis. Article 16 is not what we want but it has given us an opportunity to counter the dying national dialogue and call for resuscitation of the Agreement. This is an opportunity for us to draft a strong strategic plan that addresses human rights abuse, genocide and nationwide famine; making a case that the regime has failed. A strong qualified team to be formed; its task is to engage the peace guarantors in the anticipated high level forum “revitalization of peace”.
Contrary to the endorsement of national dialogue by the IGAD Summit, we can encounter by making a case that the national dialogue needs a clear mandate, structure, rules and procedures, and it must take place outside the existing institutions of government. A successful national dialogue calls for a participation of a wide variety of stakeholders. The national dialogue is the last phase of ARCISS, it cannot be conducted in the middle of war. And for a national dialogue to gain legitimacy, there is need for public to be informed; meaning it must be inclusive, not a selected few participants. The media can be allowed to cover its process; the rights of the journalists in south Sudan have been obstructed on daily basis.
The SPLM/A (IO) should not seek any clarification from IGAD on the meaning of “estranged parties”, the IGAD leaders intentionally ignored to mention us by our name. If one senior signatory to the Agreement is not there, the Agreement has ceased to exist and that is the position we will take when we respond. The term “estranged parties” was a coinage of President Mogae for parties, which are not currently part of whatever is left of ARCISS to implement. These parties of course include SPLM/A (IO).
Article 16 of the Communique is very concerning but point 22 from Festus Mogae’s recommendations in his speech is in our favor. The SPLM (IO) must communicate with the rest of South Sudanese political forces in order to counter IGAD’s distortion of facts. The IGAD leaders have reduced the solutions of South Sudan crisis into election, this is one of the distortions of the way forward that we want to resist.
The Communique of the IGAD 31st Summit has positive and negative outcomes. One of the positive outcomes is the decision to convene a high level forum to revitalize the Agreement and that GAD is tacitly or diplomatically admitting that the Agreement has collapsed and it needs to be revitalized. IGAD is using different words to sedate the liars in Juba.
Secondly, IGAD is now calling for inclusive process of all the stakeholders, which is contrary to Kiir regime malicious plans to isolate SPLM-IO under Dr. Riek Machar Teny. This is positive. IGAD is slowly withdrawing from the camp of Salva Kiir and Taban Deng Gai who want to continue killing the people of South Sudan by lies. We should not expect IGAD to make a complete U-turn over a night.
Third, IGAD is now agreeing with some of our demands such as availing a venue to discuss all the issues of war and peace. We need to seize this opportunity to end the political isolation of our Chairman Dr. Riek Machar Teny in the region. The onus is on our team of negotiations to extract our other demands in the revitalization forum. In a real sense, the outcomes of this extraordinary summit were more positive than negative for us. Let us capitalize on the positive points to achieve our goals and objectives.
Furthermore, the IGAD’s 31st Extra-Ordinary Summit Communiqué, acknowledged that the ARCRSS is the only vehicle to a durable peace and the stagnation of the implementation on the other hand are important notes by the assembly, but the candid and intentional refusal of the Assembly to admit the collapse of the process after the withdrawal of the SPLM/A-IO under Dr. Machar is a source for concern and a political hurdle to overcome.
In Article seven (7), the Assembly welcomed the empty declaration of “Unilateral Ceasefire” by Kiir and the quote here “IGAD Submit urges the armed opposition groups to reciprocate the call for a ceasefire as well as to renounce violence” is squarely directed to the SPLM/SPLA-IO under Dr. Machar. If the IGAD member states were truly serious about aligning their engagement with ALL PARTIES TO THE CONFLICT, why would they be sidelining the first signatory party to the agreement and one of the biggest organized opposition party and military entities in the country? The motive is very clear on the part of Uganda and Kenya. They are benefiting more during this chaos and would like it to continue in that direction until all our resources are drained.
Article 16 that calls for a high-level revitalization of all parties is an idea by our friends at the IGAD to indirectly include us into the discussion of the future framework of the process although it’s a very slippery setup that could make or break us as a party. We should start developing our position papers on why the elections cannot be done by one party while the whole country is on fire, citizens leaving the country in the million and the other hundreds are confined to UNMISS POCS Camps in the fear of a monster called Salva Kiir. If the ceasefire and the renunciation of violence are not done on our part prior, it could also be another reason to bypass us and look the other way as they are at the moment.
In lights of above notes, our position to join the proposed Revitalization Forum headed by our Chairman and C-in-C Dr. Riek Machar should be the bottom line. We should continue with our selective engagement of those that are leaning toward us and make our intention clear before the commencement of that forum.
The cracks on IGAD’s unifying position against us are widening and we should exploit them to the best of our advantage when possible. Juba should be the one to worry in the next coming months not us.
Dobuol Lualweng Wuol Undersecretary,
National Committee for External Relations SPLM IO
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