SPLM-IO spokesman Mabior Garang de Mabior tells Fred Oluoch challenges that their leader faces ahead of establishment of Transitional Government ................................................
Now that Dr Riek Machar has turned down formation of transitional government before the outstanding issues are resolved, is there a chance that he could be isolated by the international community?
This question is misleading and is based on an assumption that Dr Riek Machar is not already isolated by the international community.
The SPLM/SPLA-IO leadership has been isolated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) mediation team because Dr Machar has been under detention without charges since October 2016, first in Pretoria, South Africa and currently in Khartoum, Sudan.
The Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-AARCSS) was negotiated and signed under these constraints.
Furthermore, President Salva Kiir is a party to the conflict and also an Igad mediator. This is a contradiction. Dr Machar has already been isolated by the international community at the behest of the Igad mediation, of which the regime is an integral part.
The traditional elites in South Sudan, who want to maintain the status quo in the country, have duped the world that the problem with South Sudan is Dr Machar and if he is isolated, the country will magically return to peace.
It is an open secret and any citizen from the East African countries knows that South Sudan is a failed state and needs fundamental change in all sectors.
The UN Security Council delegation that visited Juba last week said outstanding issues raised by Dr Machar should not delay the formation of the unity government by November 12. Comment?
I believe the intentions of the delegation of the UNSC were good, which that being said—we have heard the old adage, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
What we are calling outstanding issues are provisions already agreed upon by all the parties. The issue of the number of states and their boundaries, was resolved by the South Sudan Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC), to which the issue had been deferred.
The security arrangements, which are being portrayed by the regime as the personal security for Dr Machar, is in point of fact covered under Chapter II of the Agreement. To call the laws governing the Agreement outstanding issues is mischief.
The big question is whether Dr Machar will return to Juba and be part of the transitional, even if the security arrangements is not complete. Comment?
Dr Machar’s going to Juba is not the real issue. The real question is; will Dr Machar be a free man by the time of the formation of the transitional government?
Dr Machar has been a prisoner of the mediation since July 2016, when he was first detained in South Africa and later transferred to Khartoum, where he remains in the custody.
It is beyond mischief for the mediation to expect the leadership of the SPLM-IO to go to Juba in the absence of any security arrangements, especially when the regime is deliberately sabotaging its implementation.
The objective of the Juba regime is to portray the SPLM-IO as the obstacle to peace, when the opposite is true.
Is SPLM-IO and Dr Machar willing to work with President Salva Kiir?
Apart from the fact that we are not dealing with personal domestic issues, Dr Machar has proven beyond any doubt that he is willing to work with President Kiir.
The regime has done all that it can to portray Dr Machar as the sole problem with the political maladies of South Sudan and have used international diplomatic pressure to place him under illegal detention without charges—where he remains to this day—yet he is still willing to work with President Kiir to find peace.
This has been shown by his continuous landings in Juba—hostile territory—after President Salva Kiir has refused several face-to-face meetings on neutral ground.
What is the position of SPLM-IO on the number of states the country should have?
The position of our movement on this issue is to respect the ruling of the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC), which ruled that we should implement the Agreement based on 10 states.
The number of states is one of those issues the regime is presenting as one of the unreasonable demands of the SPLM-IO.
This should not be an outstanding issue since the agreement we are talking about today is a revitalised agreement and the original (2015) was based on 10 states. It would seem like a forgone conclusion from a legal point of view, yet it has become a stumbling block to the peace process.
Since the July 2016 J-1 skirmishes, analyst say that President Kiir and Dr Machar have not yet earned each other’s trust. Comment?
It is true that the level of trust is low. Trust and confidence must be earned through a give and take. It is difficult for the parties to gain trust when one of the warring parties doubles as a mediator.
It is difficult to gain trust when only one of the warring parties is the one facing punitive measures while the other can violate the agreement with impunity.
The USA has often taken the position that both President Kiir and Dr Machar should stay out of the transitional government and prepare to face each other in the elections. What is your position on this?
The United States is a global actor in world of diplomacy and it is their prerogative to take any position, as it is the right of any nation state with interest in South Sudan, this is normal.
However, it is up to the peoples of South Sudan to choose their leaders. The current civil war in the country is part of this historical process of the peoples of South Sudan choosing their leaders.
The position of the US is commendable, as it comes from the concern for the suffering peoples of South Sudan. However, this position ignores the objective realities in the country and it would soon fail under the pressures of these realities.
Those who have followed the civil war in South Sudan know that the catalyst to the conflict was a power struggle within the historic SPLM/SPLA as the party’s primaries drew close in 2013.
The sacking of Dr Riek Machar and the entire Cabinet in July 2013 and the Nuer Massacre in December of the same year, were deliberately introduced as a way to avoid elections.
The anti-people regime in Juba will never allow free and fair elections in South Sudan, for the same reason they introduced war in the first place. It is also the same reason they will not allow the implementation of the negotiated settlement in letter and spirit.
How was Dr Machar’s security taken care of the last time he was in Juba?
The last time the SPLM/SPLA-IO went to Juba under very similar circumstances as we are experiencing today, it is like déjà vu.
This is how the movement was coerced—as we are being pressured diplomatically today—to form the government and discuss the reservations of President Salva Kiir later.
The transitional government was formed before the parliament was reconstituted, which would have made this amendment as well as before the security arrangements where completed.
The situation in Juba was not secure in 2016 and tension was very high. The SPLM-IO lost two intelligence officers in the days leading to the skirmishes in July 2016 and we are being asked to repeat the same mistake in the name of peace.
Do you think the Revitalised Peace Agreement will hold, or it is likely to collapse like the 2015 one?
I cannot tell you what the future holds. However, we should expect the same result if we repeat what happened with the 2015 agreement.
The SPLM-IO does not believe the Agreement is the best solution to our problems; however, we signed it because it is a compromise we can live with and we believe the negotiated settlement is a tool our peoples can use to bring about fundamental change in the country.