By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, May 14th 2018
While declaring the formation of his armed movement in the name of SSUF early last month, the former SPLA chief of general staff, Gen. Paul Malong Awan announced the intention of his newly formed movement to join the South Sudan Opposition Alliance SSOA and to participate in the ARCSS Revitalization Forum HLRF being led led by IGAD.
Gen. Malong further stated that SSUF will be appending their signature “to the addendum to the cessation of hostilities already signed by the other parties.”
-On SSOA’s Membership
SSOA is made up of FDP/SSAF led by Gabriel Changsong Chang, FDs led by Pagan Amum Okiech, NAS led by Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka, NDM led by Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, PDM led by Dr. Hakim Moi, SSLM/A led by Gen. Bapiny Monytuil, SSNMC led by Gov. Joseph B. Bakosoro, SSPM led by Dr. Costello Garang Ring, SSUM/A led by Gen. Peter Gadet Yak and UDRA led by Dr. Gatweth K. Thich.
Membership of the SSOA (according to a document published by Gurtong described as SSOA’s Charter) is “open to any group or persons of standing, which or who are opposed to the regime, abhors the regime’s destructive policies, programs and practices, which or who has accepted to adhere to the objectives, policies and programs of the SSOA.”
Article 7(2) of the Charter states that membership shall be approved by the “Leadership Council” of the SSOA.
Further, article 9 (2) provides that the “Leadership Council” shall consist of the Leader of each member of the SSOA (meaning the leaders mentioned above herein).
Already over a Month since SSUF declared their intention to join SSOA, it still remains unknown to the public as to whether or not SSUF has been admitted into the opposition alliance.
-On SSUF’s Participation in HLRF
Also, it is still unknown to the public as to whether or not SSUFF has appended their signature to the agreement on cessation of hostilities reached between the rests of the parties as Gen. Malong announced last month.
There’s also no indication that SSUF has been welcomed to participate in the HLRF as per their declared intention.
-Peace and Accountability
Negotiated political settlements (Peace agreements) are often designed in a way that their monitors are able to hold the parties accountable based on the terms of the pacts and their individual internal rules and regulations (charters), where applicable. The ARCSS, for example, contains several provisions on this. JMEC which is tasked with monitoring ARCSS implementation has enormous powers to resolve differences within and among parties by ensuring compliance with the letter and spirit of the ARCSS (Of course they failed to ensure compliance and here we are since July 2016.)
But, since there still exists some hope that the HLRF should lead to the end of the conflict in South Sudan, it is for the avoidance of potential controversies that the status of SSUF should be made known. Have they signed the cessation of hostilities agreement? Are they already admitted into SSOA? Are they participating in the HLRF in an independent capacity? Are they not part of the HLRF? If not, why and what shall be the implications on the period of the revitalized ARCSS?
These are very crucial for the purposes of peace, holding the parties accountable and ensuring that the terms of the revitalized ARCSS are observed. Without that clarity, there shall be no ground to hold SSUF accountable even during the next transitional period in case they get engaged in activities, for example, a violent conflict, that otherwise violates the revitalized ARCSS.
Similarly, without clarity, SSUF will not be able to claim any right if they are denied or cheated by the SSOA, for example during power-sharing, in an act that otherwise violates SSOA’s rules and regulations (Charter), the revitalized ARCSS, or both. Some may want to argue that Malong is now powerless and therefore there’s nothing to worry about his military strength and ability to perhaps disrupt peace during the period of the revitalized ARCSS. This argument may be misleading.
Actually, South Sudan’s recent history indicates that you neither need to be a “comrade” nor militarily powerful in order to disturb peace and help in ultimate abrogation of a peace agreement. All you need is to switch sides though without necessarily announcing it publicly, then get financial and military support from the party that intends to abrogate the agreement, and continue calling yourself something that you are not until the time is up for you.
These are scenarios that all pro-reforms and peace-loving South Sudanese and partners must work very hard so that they are not repeated. For clarity on SSUF’s status (and movements if any) is crucial for peace and holding the leaders and their subjects to account. From that clarification, the peace mediators should be able to design a course of action (where needed) and come up with a revitalized ARCSS that shall bind all parties.