Open Letter to His Excellent Ambassador Seyoum Mesfin, The former IGAD Chief Mediator who brokered ARCISS in August 2015
August 7, 2017
By Stephen Par Kuol
Chairman of the SPLM (IO) National Committee for Foreign Relations
Your Excellent Ambassador Mesfin,
Aug 7, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– I must first and foremost express my sincere gratitude for the tremendous effort you put to the work for peace in my country. My two and half years experience sitting across the table with you and your highly competent IGAD mediation team was quite inspirational. Your intellectual and temperamental maturity to put up with our combative polemics throughout the period of peace talks that collapsed countless times cannot be commended enough. You came handy with your peace talks and bush diplomatic experience from the revolutionary days of EPRDF. From Addis Ababa to Deberzeit and Bar Dhar, I vividly remember the red tapes we overcame under your zealous leadership to address the fundamental root causes of the South Sudanese crisis. It leaves no doubt in my mind that you gave it all you could to produce the scientifically crafted document that culminated in the Agreement for Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan ((ARCIS). Thank you very much for being Seyum Masfein. Like the Addis- Ababa agreement of 1972, our sisterly nation of Ethiopia did it again to help the people of South Sudan attain peace. Unfortunately, those who appended their signatures as guarantors did not do their part to nurse our brain -child (ARCISS). Instead of playing their role as stipulated in the agreement, they dishonored their own signatures by condoning Kiir’s intransigence from the word go. We were shocked to realize that the fascist dictator got away with every thing including the assassination attempt on the life of his First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny who was his principal partner to implement the ARCISS. You can be diplomatic about it but under your spontaneous breath, you know that it was a serious contempt to your own hard labor for peace in South Sudan and the leadership of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in the IGAD Region.
Ambassador Mesfin, this open letter is prompted by your recent media pronouncement that the ARCISS is a good agreement that must be implemented by the spirit and letter to fix South Sudan. I can not agree more with you on the salient fact that ARCISS is a good document that provides encompassing road map for institutional reforms, accountability for the crime committed during the war, national reconciliation and healing as well as democratization of the political process. I also agree with you that the agreement was imposed on the parties by the whole world. On our part as the opposition, the ARCISS did not meet most of our key demands, but it was an agreement we could live with. In truth, we made a number of painful concessions to put the interest of our people first. Our sincere commitment to peaceful settlement of the conflict was syndicated by our return to Juba under regional and international pressure without complete transitional security arrangement as stipulated in ARCISS Article 5(5.2,5&1.1.3). That was then militarily used against us by Kiir’s fascist regime without any condemnation from any of you the former mediators, the guarantors and other signatories who signed the document as witnesses. True, the ARCISS was imposed and precisely more so on President Salva Kiir who did not actually agree with us to resolve this conflict peacefully. The mere fact that the agreement was signed in two different cities at different times speaks volume of Kiir’s intransigence.
As for the failure at the implementation stage, simple logic dictates that if the signing was imposed, then the implementation should also have been imposed. Ironically, the guarantors and the regional powers who imposed the agreement abandoned their obligations to do the obvious. So, as we predicted, the implementation process was bound to fail and it did fail. Time has proven us right that the South Sudanese conflict has defeated the region and the world. Even the US Envoy, Ambassador Donald Booth publicly acknowledged the staggering failure of his government to resolve it. For one good thing, Salva Kiir did not hide his fascist intentions. He publicly declared that he would not implement an agreement he signed under duress. True to his words, Salva Kiir scrapped ARCISS in the full view of the world public and rejuvenated his despotic regime through intimidation of all the parties including the JMEC whose technocrats with the best institutional memory of the said agreement were declared persona non- grata within three weeks of the implementation phase. Subsequently, the poor JMEC succumbed to the whim of the regime, which eventually reduced its Chairman, President Festus Mogea to its mouthpiece.
The international community then resigned to a lackluster diplomacy. The easiest way to bring peace to South Sudan became the isolation of bona fide signatories of the ARCISS like Dr. Riek Machar of the SPLM (IO), Mr. Pagan Amum of the SPLM ( FDS) and DR. Lam Akol of National Alliance to pave the way for Salva Kiir to hand pick any poodle he felt comfortable to implement the agreement with. The dire consequences of such diplomatic fiasco have been the declared famine, spread of war, refugee crisis and more genocide on our helpless communities throughout the country. In moral and legal term, the so-called region and the international community cannot be exonerated from that human tragedy. You stated in your CCTV interview that only the parties to ARCISS could declare it obsolete. Well, let us face it Ambassador Masfin, those of us who negotiated ARCISS know it by heart to declare it obsolete. As you have known, none of its structural provisions from the power sharing to transitional security arrangement, institutional reforms and transitional justice has been implemented so far. That is why I must respectfully disagree with you to blame the international donor community for withdrawing their financial support for the ARCISS that has collapsed since July 2016. Morally speaking, the withdrawal of financial aid to support the ARCISS implementation institutions such as CTSAM, JMCC, JOG and CAC is long overdue. In legal term, it amounts to financial corruption to sponsor implementation of an agreement that does not exist. Defending that corrupt practice can also tarnish your honorable image as the broker of that credible agreement.
Ambassador Mesfine, what has also smeared the badly needed accountability in this process is the querulous diplomatic language that tends to bash all the leaders of South Sudan for collective failure to end the crisis. We take offense of that as a public insult to the intelligence of the people of South Sudan who know better that there is no collective leadership to blame for collective failure as things stand today in South Sudan. We only have a tyrant who has chosen the crisis over the collective leadership itself. Even asking the victims of his political violence to renounce violence they did not initiate only validates the bitter truth that this world is not governed on the light of human right and moral prism. As for the escalation of the war in the country, the natural law of physics that every action has equal reaction applies. Where there is no political space to practice civilized politics, the law of jungle reigns and the savagery you have seen in South Sudan is inevitable. For the majority of our people in South Sudan today, the human self-preservation instinct offers only the following desperate and agonizing options: armed struggle for defense of one’s community from Kiir’s scorch earth offensive, internal refuge to rot in one of those IDP camps, exodus for the refuge in the nearest neighboring country or asylum for indefinite exile in a foreign land. The rest is like between a rock and the hard place.
Ambassador Mesfin, the two and half years intimate interactions you had with us as a movement should have informed you that like the Ethiopian Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that liberated Ethiopia from Derge military dictatorship, the SPLM (IO) has a progressive agenda for that country. All of you who participated in those sessions that produced ARCISS as observers or mediators can attest to the fact that most of the proposals, which makes it what it is came from us. That was why we did not hesitate to sign it before Salva Kiir signed it reluctantly with reservations. Despite all the betrayals as elaborated afore, we remained committed to that process until we were violently pushed out of it in July 2016. Since then, our Chairman, Dr. Riek Machar from his solitary confinement in South Africa has been writing almost to every leader on this planet to restore peace in South Sudan. All his pleases for peace have come to a naught as South Sudan continues to bleed and burn to death. Whatever is behind the sly, it is mind-boggling to isolate the peacemaker and legitimize the war maker in order to end the war.
Ambassador Mesfin, as you might have known, the consensus among all the political forces outside Kiir’s regime at the time of this writing is that the only way to reverse the trajectory of those tragic events on the ground in South Sudan is to first and foremost declare the ARCISS collapsed and embark on a new inclusive and reinvigorated political process. All those Juba engineered forums such as Reunification of the SPLM, National Dialogue and the Revitalization of ARCISS are cosmetic projects to save the ugly face of Kiir’s fascist regime.The time has come for serious business for peace in South Sudan. All those delaying tactics including isolation of the opposition parties are futile games that will only prolong the suffering of our downtrodden people. Even those regionally coordinated military operations of Salva Kiir and his allies to crash the largest armed opposition in the country are fatal conspiracies that will only accelerate the collapse of the country.
Thank You Very Much
Hon. Stephen Par Kuol is the Chairman of the SPLM (IO) National Committee for Foreign Relations, former Minister and former Deputy Ambassador. He can be reached through his email at firstname.lastname@example.org