AMUM: Kiir’s love for transitional institutions responsible for challenges facing Juba

Sunday August 18 2019

Pagan Amum

Pagan Amum, South Sudan's chief negotiator and former SPLM secretary general. PHOTO | JENNY VAUGHAN | AFP 

FRED OLUOCH
By FRED OLUOCH
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Former SPLM secretary general Pagan Amum spoke with Fred Oluoch about illusive peace in Juba.

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Is there will to implement the agreement after the six months extension?

No, the regime in Juba has no intention. It does not have interest and the needed political will to implement the agreement.

This can be clearly deduced from the way President Salva Kiir refused to meet Dr Riek Machar in Addis Ababa last Tuesday and also from the way President Kiir is insisting that Dr Machar must return to Juba—when the pre-transformational tasks, most importantly the security arrangements, are not implemented.

The goal of President Kiir is not to achieve peace or democratic transformation but only to consolidate his regime.

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For President Kiir, peace means the opposition joining the government and accept the nominal power and it's trappings without change in the system.

The eight months pre-transitional period elapsed without implementation of the tasks. And now we are in the third month of the six months extension and nothing has been implemented in terms of security arrangements and the issue of the number of the states is not resolved.

Security arrangements and the number of states were the outstanding issues that made it impossible to form a government in May. Is there progress on these two issues?

No, there has been no progress. Actually the government has been blocking any implementation of these pre-transitional tasks.

The government continued to obstruct the implementation of the security arrangements by denying and delaying funding for the cantonment and training of the nucleus join security force, or the demilitarisation of Juba, other towns and population centres.

On the number of the States, the government is still insisting on the 32 plus states despite the agreement by all the groups and representatives of African Union (C5) to return the country to 10 states.

On security arrangements, the objective of building a national army as a professional conventional army that reflects South Sudanese diversity and as a national defence force under a civilian rule, remains a dream.

Are there funds for programmes such as cantonment, disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and training?

The government is withholding the funds. The government announced in May that it would set aside $100 million, but the funds are not forthcoming not because of lack of it, but because the intention is not to implement these programmes.

For instance, the government signed an agreement worth millions of dollars with Gainful Solutions to lobby the Trump Administration to delay and block the establishment of the Hybrid Court.

The government is receiving tens of millions of dollars every month, but peace, justice, accountability and democracy are not in its priorities.

Do you believe there will be a transitional government of national unity come November 12?

The transitional government may or may not be formed by November. President Kiir may form such a government if Dr Machar and the majority of the leaders of the opposition groups who have signed the agreement come under pressure from the region, or President Kiir could form a government with some breakaway leaders of some opposition groups.

Alternatively, the opposition could insist on the implementation of the peace programme as it is in the peace agreement of 2015 and revitalised in 2018, a demand that lead a renewal of tensions.

President Kiir has been actually comfortable ruling through transitional arrangements and avoiding permanent constitutional democratic governance arrangements.

Are countries in the region keen on supporting the peace process in South Sudan?

Countries in the region may be supporting peace in South Sudan, but when the government of South Sudan is not for peace there is very little that they can do, especially when some of the regional governments have been supporting the regime in its war against the South Sudanese people or were benefiting from the weak and divided South Sudan.

Peace and democracy will only come as a result of South Sudanese people effort primarily. External support are secondary to achieve peace and change in South Sudan.

Since the Troika is hesitant to fund the implementation, what is the way forward?

The Troika countries and the international partners for peace are not hesitant to fund the implementation. They are ready to contribute their share or even more, but that is only if the government show a serious commitment to implement the agreement to stabilise the country.

The government has to demonstrate through budgetary allocations that it is willing to fund peace programmes before the international community can fill the gaps.

However, it would be awkward of the US to fund the implementation of the peace agreement when government of South Sudan is funding a lobbyist to block the Hybrid Court — one of the cornerstones of the agreement and peace in South Sudan.

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