Igad ‘forces’ protocol on Kiir, Machar to resolve political crisis

Saturday September 06 2014

Dr Riek Machar appears to be the biggest loser in the proposal on transitional government of national unity in South Sudan of August 25.

His campaigns to have President Salava Kiir step aside have been thwarted with The Protocol on Agreement Principles on Transition Arrangements Towards Resolution of the Crisis in South Sudan.

President Kiir appears to have gained much in the transitional government arguments since he remains the Head of State and commander-in-chief and will have great influence on who becomes the prime minister, to be appointed by the SPLM/A in Opposition, according to the protocol.

It provides that the prime minister to be appointed by the Opposition must be acceptable to the president, work harmoniously with the president and will not be eligible to stand for any public office in the national elections.

This provision is a major blow to the opposition given that the president and the vice-president will be allowed to contest the next elections after 30 months of transitional government.

The Inter-Governmental Authority of Development (Igad) had given the warring parties 45 days from September 16 to agree on the protocol but SPLM/A in Opposition leadership argues that it was a strange document imposed on them and it can only work if it is presented for discussion when the talks resume in Addis Ababa on September 16.


The SPLM/A in Opposition spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, in an exclusive interview with The EastAfrican said that the document did not discuss the root cause of the crisis and that simply suggests that President Kiir and Dr Machar get back together and yet the two have been in the same government and differed on fundamental principles.

“The committees were busy discussing key issues such as of governance, security arrangements and wealth-sharing but all of a sudden, Igad came up with a strange document that was not discussed and which cannot form the basis of a lasting peace,” said Mr Dak.

The spokesperson who was visiting Nairobi maintained that his side remains committed to the peace negotiations but will not accept the document as currently constituted and if Igad is determined to impose their own solutions on the parties, then the fighting is likely to continue.

In the past month, Igad and Troika countries, especially the US, have tended to single out Dr Machar as the source of conflict, which is likely to push the rebels farther away from a negotiated future of South Sudan to one that will be decided on the military field.

READ: South Sudan warring sides face 'punitive' sanctions

Sources in Addis Ababa told The EastAfrican that Igad mediators decided that they had been taken round in circles for too long and they had to impose some sort of solution to the nine months conflict.

However, Dr Machar has made significant gains in the protocol that empowers the transitional government to oversee the permanent constitutional reforms based on the principle of federalism and to devolve more powers to the 10 states.

Federalism was Dr Machar’s idea on how to solve the political crisis and ensure equitable distribution of resources, but President Kiir has been strongly opposed to the idea of federalism on grounds that it will lay the foundation for secession and splinter of the young country into several regions.

While the debate over federalism has gained currency in the entire South Sudan, President Kiir recently criticised the leaders of the larger Equatoria state for pushing for federalism, accusing the region of supporting the rebels’ cause and asked where the Equatorians were in 1947 when South Sudanese were discussing the issue of federalism.

Mr Dak says that they had proposed federalism to accommodate different interests in South Sudan, but apart from that, the document has not addressed the fundamental differences between President Kirr and Dr Machar.

“The problem started when Dr Machar and other party members demanded democratic transformation of the country and the issue of ethnicity.

But Kiir was of the opinion that there is no need for reforms,” he said. The protocol’s main thrust is more about preserving President Kiir in power and giving Dr Machar the crumbs in a take-it-or-leave it kind of scenario.

President Kiir has also gained in that his term that was supposed to end in April 2015, has been extended by nearly one and half years given that the transitional government will last for two and a half years.

Analyst say that President Kiir is likely to be emboldened by the protocol’s affirmation of his argument that he has the mandate of the people having been democratically elected and pressure for him to step was akin to rewarding rebellion and deviating from the democratic principles of changing a government.

The country as whole however is likely to gain from the proposal for the transitional government to undertake comprehensive institutional reforms in the security sector, institute accountability and efficiency in the public financial management that has been a key factor in the conflict.

But both President Kiir and Dr Machar have lost in their ultimate goal to have a military solution to the crisis as no side is strong enough to vanquish the other.

Secondly, the two risk being indicted for crimes against humanity, given that the protocol states that individuals found to have committed war crimes and other crimes against humanity as identified by the African Union Commission of Inquiry will face prosecution and will not be allowed to participate in the transitional government.