By Tor Madira Machier,
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]pinion: – Another highly anticipated event, the publication of the report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS), has also passed. The African Union Peace and Security Council, in accordant with its meeting on Friday, prior to its most recent communiqué regarding the status of the report, has once again postponed the publication of the Report of the African union Commission of Inquiry on south Sudan (AUCISS). To this extend, the people of South Sudan today, in the sense that a constant political and social turmoil persist, do not only bear the challenge of building a country already destroyed by the war of independence against the then north, nor they only bear the burden inflicted upon the nation by the government of president Salva Kiir’s non-constructive and arrogant regime, but they also face the burden of how to bring to justice those who committed gross violation of International Humanitarian Laws, and this can only be done if a neutral body, rather than the IGAD, take the leads in mediating for a lasting peace in a productive manner.
When the IGAD began its mediation on the South Sudan conflict in January 2014, mixed reaction from the South Sudanese people from all the corners of the country engulfed the nation. Optimism for accountability upon the perpetrators of both Juba massacre and the postliminary killings became high.
However, a solid question whether the regional entity, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), would be neutral in its mediation, remains without a productive answer. In fact, the question of IGAD’s neutrality is what undermines negotiations today. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in the sense that the above question remains unanswered, have derailed the ethics of negotiations by not putting in mind that Uganda’s role both as a party to the South Sudanese’s civil war and as a prominent member of the mediating body is, to be clear, negatively sabotaging the peace process.
The proposed compromise deal handed to the government of the Republic South Sudan (GRSS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) by the IGAD contains, in respect to accountability and justice for the victims of war crimes committed between December and January 2014, a number of disturbing resolutions and sections and that is why this deal is so bad.
Examples of those disturbing elements of that proposed compromise deal are found in Section, 3.5 and section 3.6, beside unaccounted sections of the proposal.
Section 3.5.1 Said, “A person who planned, instigated, ordered, committed, aided and abetted, conspired or participated in a joint criminal enterprise in the planning, preparation or execution of a crime referred to in Chapter V, Article 3.2.1. of this Agreement shall be individually responsible for the crime”. And section 3.6.1 said, “In carrying out its investigations, the HCSS may use the report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry (COI) on South Sudan and draw on other existing documents, reports, and materials, including but not limited to those in the possession of the African Union, or any other entities and sources, for use as the Prosecutor deems necessary for his or her investigations and/or prosecution of those alleged to have committed serious human rights violations or abuses, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. Such documents, reports and materials shall be used in accordance with applicable international conventions, standards and practices. NOTE: Be sensitive that the investigations of those crimes are done when the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) is already in office.
To this respect, the perpetrators of those crimes committed from the genesis of the conflict, while having their participation in the TGoNU is secured, will still be moving on the streets of Juba and other important South Sudanese towns freely while justice for the victims of the war is yet to be served. In addition, section 3.6.1 in its body language means that the report of the African Union commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) will not be released in details before the maybe TGoNU where those responsible for serious violation of International Humanitarian Laws remain anonymous. The alleged report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry released and given to the government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) lack transparency and a sign of a bad luck for the South Sudanese victims of the current civil war because those responsible remains not established and what really happened in Juba plus other revenge killings was not given in the report, yet they keep narrating of the phrase, the “Sovereignty of the people of South Sudan which is a mere rhetoric.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) must know that serving the government with the report while denying access for the SPLM/A-in-Opposition means that the regional body is in favor of the other side of the conflict.
In addition to the neutrality of the IGAD, the regional body acts beyond its jurisdiction by interfering in the internal affairs of the Republic of South Sudan, Museveni’s involvement in the internal conflict of South Sudan reflect the IGAD’s. The IGAD’s involvement in the conflict, is not only a sign of weakness for the regional body, but also an ultimate reflection of the fact that regional entities, while maintaining interests in South Sudan, within the continent cannot bring peace to South Sudan. Museveni’s physical interference in to the internal affairs of South Sudan transformed the IGAD’s some previous neutral states, and subsequently, became a solid platform for its mediation.
This send a very clear political message to the region and to the international community that South Sudan’s civil war , with a number of regional interests and the subsequent interferences from the closest neighbors, could not be solved from within the region, and that all those within the region as well as the international community who expect the Intergovernmental Authority on development’s mediation to end the South Sudan’s conflict and bring in a lasting peace for the sake of ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan are mistaken, then misleading the world.
The international community regardless of its borders of jurisdiction, must act to save the people of South Sudan both from the East African block and from the regime of General Salva Kiir because the premise of having a state above its citizens is not only a misfortune for the people of South Sudan, but it is also an act of betrayal by the current regime towards the West without whom the South Sudan independence would not have been realistic. In respect to Uganda’s military involvement in South Sudan conflict, if the danger of the conflict escalation is to be mitigated it must to be seen in the IGAD’s used mechanism on how to end the war in South Sudan. Unfortunately that has not been realistic.
The threat of Yoweri Museveni for peace in South Sudan and probably in the region, which persist as long as the IGAD and the international community continue to address only the internal factors of the conflict leaving behind the external fueling-factors, while waging a political war against the SPLM/A-in-Opposition and the people of South Sudan, making secret deals with the group in power under Kiir, will never end. The IGAD must open their eye-red on Museveni to cease his involvement in South Sudan, while investigating him over the crimes committed by his UPDF in South Sudan, in addition to naming those responsible for the gross violations of the International Humanitarian Law.
If the IGAD fails to name the criminals and investigate Museveni’s UPDF, they must know that the people of South Sudan has not forgotten who committed brutalities nor have they forgotten what really, in the watchful episode of the IGAD and the international community, happened in Juba and other towns between December 2013 and January 2014.
Tor Madira Machier is the head of the department of peace and reconciliation of the SPLM-IO Youth League Chapter in Egypt and the author of an upcoming book: THE END OF THE BEGINNING, A REFLECTION OF SOUTH SUDAN’S CULTURE OF ETHNIC HATRED. He can be reached at: tormadira2013gmail.com