Opinion | By Bol Khan
August 11, 2020 (Thessherald)–One would have opined his opinion on the above subject matter earlier on, but expectantly thought the parties concerned were going to solved the issue sooner than later. Unfortunately, it seems the matter is not easily going away; I can still hear or read some warlike statements coming in from the higher Office—the Presidency.
This is truly disturbing! Hence, I would like to start this opinion piece with two (2) simple questions. Does the R-ARCSS allow Padang Community to partake in choosing a political party or a personality of its choice that govern Upper Nile State? Can the R-ARCSS also give other section of communities in South Sudan the same right to decide who should or should not participate in the Revitalized Transitional Governments (i.e. at national, State & Local Level) during this Transitional Period? So far, South Sudan’s nine (9) States’ Governors together with three (3) Areas’ Administrators have been appointed by Presidential Decrees.
We sincerely applauded the Parties to the R-ARCSS (viz; the OPP, FDs, SSOA, SPLM-IO & SPLM-IG) and notably Gen. Salva Kiir Mayadit for the progress made in the interest of suffering South Sudanese people. However, the nominated oil-rich Upper Nile State’s Governor, Gen. Johnson Olony was not appointed, why because Padang Community objected his appointment.
In an open communication to the Presidency, the Padang Community said “Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO (White Army) and Gen. Johnson Olony’s Agwelek Militias” had destroyed “human lives and properties of Padang Community” during the recent past civil war and for this reason “Padang Community in Upper Nile State will not accept to be ruled by the SPLM-IO and Agwelek Militias in person of Johnson Olony.”
The same statement proceeded and said “Padang Community envisaged SSOA as a unified Political Party to Unite Upper Nile State.” Therefore, the Padang Community asked the Presidency of the Republic of South Sudan to consider one of the following conditions: 1) The SPLM-IO to either replace Gen. Johnson Olony with a Nuer/re-allocate the State to SSOA; 2) Or axe Upper Nile State into Administrative Areas, giving Padang Community its own Administrative Area (annexing JS’s Pigi County).
The alleged atrocities and the land issue at Eastern Bank of the Nile.
It was on 17th June & 10th July 2020, respectively, when Padang Community wrote an open letters to the Presidency asking the later not to appoint Gen. Johnson Olony as Upper Nile State’s Governor. In that letters, the said Community described Gen. Johnson Olony as a symbol of a “possible instability—a threat” to Upper Nile State’s people because he Johnson and the SPLM-IO have created “unhealed wounds that the communities still bears and will be a factor for conflict” in the State.
Can the atrocities allegedly committed by the SPLM-IO (White Army/Agwelek) during the five years old civil war prevent Gen. Johnson Olony from leading the Revitalized Upper Nile State’s Government? An answer to this question must be a BIG NO. Why because “There shall be established an independent hybrid judicial court, the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS)” as stipulated in the R-ARCSS Chapter V Article 5. 3.1.1. Once that court is established “It shall investigate and where necessary persecute, individuals bearing responsibility for violations of international law and/or applicable South Sudanese Laws, committed from 15th December 2013 through the end of the Transitional Period”.
And while “Carrying out its investigations, the HCSS may use the report of the AU (COI) on South Sudan and other existing documents and reports, including but not limited to those in the possession of the AU for use as the Prosecutor deems necessary for his/her investigations and/or prosecution of those alleged to have committed serious human rights violations or abuses, war crimes, or crimes against humanity”.
Its concludes in Article 5.5.1 in the same Chapter V that any “Individual Leaders indicted or convicted by HCSS shall not be eligible for participation in the RTGoNU, or in its successor government (s) for a period determined by law, or if already participating in the R-TGoNU, or in its successor government (s) they shall lost their position in government”.
So, Padang Community would have done a right thing if it had instead called for the formation of the HCSS so that SPLM-IO and Gen. Johnson Olony, among others, is investigated and then persecuted if found guilty. However, the truth of the matter is that, Nuer and Dinka are two major tribes whose members were widely accused of having committed serious atrocities in South Sudan, during the past five (5) years civil war.
But if you can allow these two (2) tribes’ members participations in the revitalized governments without conditions, then why should you block Gen. Johnson Olony’s participation in the same revitalized Governments? Should it be because Gen. Johnson Olony is from the minority group? To me, Padang Community and whoever may be supporting it is a lucid “possible threat” not only to Upper Nile State but also to South Sudan as a whole.
In other words, the Padang Community’s aforesaid conditions are tantamount to final abrogation of the R-ARCSS. The first point I am making is that the onus of holding individual leaders accountable for the alleged crimes committed during or after the civil war lies on the HCSS. But there is no certain section of community such as Upper Nile State Padang Community, to take law into its hands and tribally try to hold an individual leader accountable.
Similarly, the same thing to the so-called land issue of Eastern Bank of the Nile contested between Chollo Community and the Presidency’s backed Padang Community. This issue has to wait also if every is for Peace, all should stick to IBC’s recommendations.
As the R-ARCSS’s Chapter I Article 1.15.11 says “The parties accept to implement the recommendations of the IBC in full at the beginning of the Transitional Period. And also in Article 220.127.116.11 “In the event that any tribe claims that the IBC report is violated, that tribe is entitled to resort within a maximum of two years of the alleged violation to arbitration and bring its case against the RGoNU or any subsequent government of the Republic of South Sudan before the permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague”. Period!
The former ITGoNU and current incomplete R-TGoNU have failed beyond reasonable doubt in following the right implementation pathway of the 2018 signed R-ARCSS. Presumably, the right implementation procedure would have been started with the Security Arrangements first, then follow by formation of the Presidency, Reconstitution of TNLA, formation of Cabinet at national level, the State Governors, States’ Legislative Assemblies, States’ Cabinet, Counties’ Commissioners…etc or with any other Articles deemed necessary. However, as I write or as you read this piece everything about the R-ARCSS’S implementation is in a coma.
Nobody is sure whether the R-TGoNU is implementing PEACE—re-building hope and trust among the South Sudanese people as expected or it is re-building tribal hatred in South Sudan. Due to this unchallenged intransigency within the R-TGoNU, Padang Community managed and objected successfully the appointment of Upper Nile State’s nominated Governor, Gen. Johnson Olony. Therefore, this opinion piece seeks to know whether or not it is the R-ARCSS that allows Padang Community section the right to participate in choosing Upper Nile State’s Governor.
To the best of my knowledge, the R-ARCSS does not allow the Padang Community to participate in any thing to do with R-ARCSS’s implementation. I have read the IGAD’s logoed document calls the “R-ARCSS” times and again but I have never come across a single Article/clause that gives Padang Community the RIGHT to choose a political party or a person of its choice to govern Upper Nile State. Where does Padang Community get it power, then? Padang Community got its power from the Presidency—the Office of the President.
The support Padang Community is getting from the Presidency.
With all due respects, at the end of this opinion piece, I would like to put forward the following four (4) questions. Is it legal for Presidency of the Republic to support Upper Nile State’s Padang Community against the R-ARCSS? Will the SAME Presidency also allow other section of communities in South Sudan to make choices (in connection with “unhealed wounds”) as to who should or should not participate in the Revitalized Transitional Governments (i.e. at national, State & Local Level) during this Transitional Period? Are the Padang Community’s conditions a dawdling strategy—pulling South Sudan back to former 32+ tribal States?
Is Upper Nile State’s Governorship issue a plotted final bomb on the already amputated R-ARCSS?
Therefore, in the name of the R-ARCSS, I appeal to the Presidency—the Office of the President to appoint Upper Nile State’s nominated Governor, Lt. Gen. Johnson Olony Thubo, forthwith. Otherwise, just like Padang Community of Upper Nile State; other communities in other States across South Sudan shall start coming up with similar issues targeting individual leaders from among the leaders who have already been appointed as States’ Governors and National Ministers. And the Presidency may not be exceptional, because some of its members are perceived “divisive” and seen as real “violent threat” to PEACE more than others in South Sudan.
Bol Khan is a concerned South Sudanese Independent Opinion Writer, Civil Rights and Peace Activist. He irregular writes opinion pieces about Rights, Peace and Democracy. He can easily be reached for comments at email@example.com . Twiter@khanrom