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BY DR JAMES OKUK - 2 May 2019

Opinion: Exiting the Polemics on Formation or Deferral of RTGoNU

Photo: Dr. James Okuk
Photo: Dr. James Okuk

This article is written with informed intention to provide constructive way forward for the Parties, the Stakeholders and Guarantors who signed the 2018 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) to overcome the stalemate on the polemics of establishment of the Revitalized Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) on 12 May 2019 as expectedly agreed in the peace deal. The author contextualizes this problem technically with a cogent proposal for pragmatic exit and soft landing in peace that would avoid rush for disastrous crash. The objective is to persuade the Parties and Guarantors to reach a consensus on deferring the formation of RTGoNU not later than 12 September 2019.

The suggested limited extension of pre-transitional period by 4 months has to be justified by reasonable evidence rather than malicious whims so as not to risk the R-ARCSS for a second relapse. It is hoped that the extraordinary meeting of the leadership of the Parties and mediation Guarantors of the R-ARCSS in Addis Ababa on 2 – 3 May 2019 would quickly break the deadlock and ensure that the peace process is kept moving on the right track of the critically agreed priorities and timely benchmarks. This must be reinforced urgently by IGAD Council of Ministers Meeting followed by Extraordinary Summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government, which should untangle any emerging complication or confusion that may scare the undesirable hell out of purgatory of unpredictable contradictory South Sudan.


Nothing should be left open-ended for politically charged interpretation outside the box of peace agreement. Unreliable gentlemen deals shouldn’t be entertained for permitting the trap of selectivity in implementing the R-ARCSS. The necessary pre-transitional security and defence arrangements (including the eighteen articles of the 2017 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access Republic of South Sudan) must be put in place accordingly as defined in Article 2.2.1 of R-ARCSS:

The Pre-Transitional Period shall start on D-Day and continue up to the completion of the training and redeployment of the necessary unified forces. However, training and redeployment of the necessary unified forces shall be completed within a period that shall not exceed eight (8) months. This provision prevails on any other contrary text.

What needs to be underscored by the Parties and Guarantors in this article is their contract that no any other text or provision in the R-ARCSS would override it. It was commendable for the D-Day to have been fulfilled and continued without disruption by any of the Parties. However, it remains regrettable that training and redeployment of the necessary unified forces didn’t take place despite establishment and operationalization of joint implementation committees and commissions by the eligible Parties and Stakeholders. Why has this not happened? Does it implies that the principal warring leaders are not in real control of their armed forces?

This question must be answered honestly before hastening the talks about formation of RTGoNU in 8 months or outside that time (like the 6 months proposed by SPLM/A-IO), an outcome which should have been conditioned absolutely by ‘unified necessary forces’ assembled from the separated forces that used to be under command of the warring parties. So far, the required unification of those forces still remains as an ink on the paper only rather than a concrete reality in the redeployment stations of duty assignment.

Even Article 2.3.1 of R-ARCSS on conditioning the beginning of 36 months of transitional period on the expiry date of 8 months of transitional period won’t be practical if the principal Parties continue to disagree on establishment of the RTGoNU in time before completing the agreed activities of the pre-transitional period:

Notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, the Transitional Period of (36) thirty-six months shall start on completion of redeployment of necessary unified forces, or on the expiry of eight (8) months whichever takes place first.”

How will RTGoNU look like as far as quorum of its Council of Ministers and Transitional Legislature is concerned? What will be the legitimacy of the sovereignty of that incomplete government if its composition is compromised by boycott of SPLM/A-IO, which has the second lion share in power quotas (e.g., 9 ministers, 128 MPs, Speaker of Council of States, and Deputy Speaker of TNLA, Governors and Speakers of Parliament of some states)? How will President Salva Kiir conduct a binding collegial consultation and decision-making in the Presidency in absence of First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar?

Who will Chair Governance Cluster of the Council of Ministers that comprises 12 ministries as required in Articles and 1.10.2 of R-ARCSS—Presidential Affairs; Cabinet Affairs (with Deputy); Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (with Deputy); Defence and Veterans Affairs (with Deputy); Interior (with Deputy); Peace Building; Justice and Constitutional Affairs (with Deputy); National Security; Parliamentary Affairs; Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services (with Deputy); Federal Affairs; and East African Community Affairs—if Dr. Riek Machar declined to come to Juba to assume the Office  of the First Vice President with hierarchy of seniority? But who shall exercise all the powers, functions and responsibilities conferred upon him by R-ARCSS and as incorporated into TCRSS (2019) if he failed to come to Juba in response to the invitation of President Salva Kiir so that they could form the RTGoNU in time?

It is highly probable that any attempt to fill in the position of the First Vice President with another politician apart from Dr. Riek Machar who is mentioned by name in R-ARCSS (e.g., like what was done to the Incumbent TGoNU First Vice President Taban Deng Gai in July 2016), won’t make a headway this time round. Article 1.7.4 of R-ARCSS can’t permit this blunder again. Also Dr. Riek and his supporters had learnt bitter lessons in their experience of 2015 ARCSS deviated implementation:

“In the event that the post of the First Vice President falls vacant during the Transitional Period, for any reason, including mental infirmity or physical incapacity of the office holder, the replacement shall be nominated by the top leadership body of the SPLM/A –IO as at the signing of this Agreement. Such a process of replacement shall not exceed forty-eight (48) hours. The successor as the First Vice President shall serve in Office until the end of the Transitional Period.”

The same critical questions asked about the political situation and heavy weight of Riek Machar in regards to formation of RTGoNU is also applied to any of the positions of the 4 Vice Presidents if it remained vacant for one reason or another. In a nutshell, the RTGoNU can only be established legitimately by consensus with inclusive participation of all the eligible R-ARCSS Parties in it. It can’t be forced down on the throat of any of the Parties.

Connected to security and defence conditionality prior to formation of RTGoNU, the Parties and IGAD Guarantors are also obliged to resolve the contentious issues of the number and boundaries of states as well as the tribal boundaries (of 1/1/1956) during the pre-transitional period.  This must be done in accordance with articles, 1.14.4, 1.15.1 – 18 and 1.16 of R-ARCSS and as informed by the findings and recommendations of the Technical Boundary Committee (TBC) and the Independent Boundaries Committee (IBC) as well as by geopolitical considerations and modern reality with its current dictates.

Though constituted late by the IGAD Executive Secretariat and HLRF Mediation, the TBC should be appreciated for having completed its task within the allocated time with submission of the final report to the appointing authority who forwarded the document to R-ARCSS Parties for consideration in their expected final decision on this matter. Also the IBC must be appreciated for having commenced its work in earnest, though it is struggling with the tide of lost time to complete its mandated task within 60 days, which is almost impossible as its members have been bogged down by logistical delays to travel for consultation with the stakeholders in the selected states and IDP/Refugees camp sites.

However, the experts have advised that R-ARCSS provision of conducting a referendum on the Number and Boundaries of States should be dropped by the Parties because this will not be viable in the difficult time of pre-transitional period. Almost half of the population is still displaced from their original homes and guns spread uncontrollably throughout South Sudan. Any democratic rush in such a ballooning situation would be a recipe for revival of violent conflicts, especially in the areas where internal boundaries are contested zealously. The final decision on this emotionally charged issue of the status of the states must be taken care by the leadership of R-ARCSS Parties without ‘provocateuring’ delay tactics. This is possible by August 2019 after IBC has completed its work with final submission of the report. The rest of the tribalized South Sudanese citizens should be involved later, if need be for wider legitimacy of this decision, during the permanent constitution-making process after the transitional period has taken stable shape for credible democracy under inclusive RTGoNU.

The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan and the African Union as well as the United Nations Security Council should move jointly to persuade the rest of South Sudanese armed movements that didn’t sign R-ARCSS to join the peace process before establishment of RTGoNU by 12 September 2019, reminding the belligerents of commitment of the AU to bring to an end the rebellion fashion of protests against legitimate governments in Africa by 2020. There shouldn’t be amnesty for those who were proven guilty in a competent court of justice for having committed serious war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law. Grand corruption and grave economic crimes must also be considered as gravest crimes.

The IGAD Heads of States and Government must endorse a permanent Chairperson of Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) before the end of the limitedly extended pre-transitional period by 4 months, which has to be subtracted from 36 months of the agreed transitional period in R-ARCSS. As the RTGoNU has been highly personalized in Chapter I to bring President Salva Kiir and SPLM/A-IO Chairman Dr. Riek Machar into the terms of getting along to work together for a last chance of their aging political life, all efforts must be exerted to ensure that this anomalie is brought to an end by ensuring that the justice of elections is done by first quarter of 2022 without delay.

As political wrangling continues in Chapter I and II of R-ARCSS, the other South Sudanese Stakeholders and international partners must not lose the focus on Chapter III – VIII of the same agreement. As far as a lot of money is needed for buying peace from the warring parties, much resources should be spent on the effected vulnerable citizens of South Sudan who need more sympathetic humanitarian assistance to give them hope of uplifting themselves to catch up the lost economic activities in post-war era.

With a special affirmative action, the youth and women of South Sudan needs to be supported sufficiently for better economic competitiveness and development of their country in a sustainable peaceful environment. They must be empowered by RTGoNU and international partners to enable them in setting up and managing beneficial enterprises with relevantly acquired intelligent modern skills of business. This will liberate them from aid dependency syndrome and wasting time in idle politics and armed security. This must be treated as part of practical enforcement of transitional justice as enshrined in Chapter V of r-ARCSS.

It is doable by June 2019 for the National Legislature (TNLA & Council of State) to ratify the shelved Bill of Transitional Constitutional of the Republic of South Sudan (2019), which was presented to the Incumbent TGoNU Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in January 2019 by the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) after incorporating the supreme R-ARCSS provisions into the main law of the land.

Also it is doable by July 2019 for the Incumbent Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) to pass the 5 security and defence Bills as well as 2 political Bills for regulating the activities of political parties and organizing the elections in South Sudan. This is in addition to passing the humanitarian NGOs Bill and allowing the Incumbent President of the Republic to assent to all these  by first week of September 2019 so that they become the necessary legal framework for peace era and the incoming RTGoNU by 12 September 2019—the same date on which R-ARCSS was signed in Addis Ababa.

However, if it turned out that the Incumbent TGoNU Transitional Legislature or Council of Ministers is becoming an obstructer or spoiler of timely R-ARCSS implementation, the supremacy of the peace agreement and its precedence over all of the available promulgated legislations must be invoked in Chapter VIII (Article 8.4). The leadership bodies of the Parties and Stakeholders that signed the R-ARCSS must come forward to take the policy-making powers for the necessities of the commencement of the transitional period without further postponement of transitional period.

In case of worst scenario of getting stuck with formation of RTGoNU, the incumbent legislature and executive cabinets at the national and states levels should be dissolved immediately. But to avoid chaotic vacuum, some merited technocrats should be given caretaking authority and sufficient resources to manage the day-to-day activities of the government and adopt the required urgent reforms in South Sudan during 4 months limited extension of the pre-transitional period and beyond during transitional period.

At the end of the D-Day, the establishment order of the long-awaited RTGoNU must be done without leaving any eligible Party representative out as agreed in the power sharing quotas. Any selective formation of such government without ensuring the legitimate inclusivity, including presence of President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar at the top echelon of the Presidency, will face fierce criticism of incompleteness and lack of full legitimacy to safeguard peace process in South Sudan.  It won’t be easy ride.

Though the bigger part of R-ARCSS is dominated by politics of WHO GETS AND DOES WHAT, WHEN, HOW and WHY, however, it is the economy that will facilitate the conflict transformation and peace-building processes successfully. Hence, the making of a peaceful economic society of South Sudan must become an utmost essential undertaking. Olive branch on this should be borrowed from the visionary developing nations, which have chosen to prioritize innovative education and enterprises for their youth and women with large democratic but stable middle class.


To go back to the fundamental basics of the peace process, the wrangling Parties should be reminded that the R-ARCSS did not come as a miracle from good heaven. It was negotiated on earth based on the remedial measures recommended by the former Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), H.E. Festus G. Mogae of Botswana, and adopted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Guarantors as the core targeted endgame of the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF).

The mandate of the HLRF was to enable the Parties to agree on comprehensive cessation of hostilities and permanent ceasefire; to solemnly commit themselves to full and timely implementation of the eight chapters of the revitalized peace agreement from the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS); and to conduct free and credible elections at the end of transitional period so that power could finally be delegated to the political leaders by the eligible voting South Sudanese citizens via ballot boxes that would put to an end the intermittent vicious cycles of negotiated transitional coalition governments of national unity by the known politico-military ‘gun-class’.

The HLRF produced the initial positive results after about a full year of ‘on-and-off’ IGAD-mediated negotiations by the Parties and other Stakeholders of South Sudan (December 2017 to September 2018). The Parties made a puzzling bullied breakthrough in Khartoum and Entebbe in June to August 2018. This happened under auspices of the ousted Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir and the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to whom the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (Rapporteur of IGAD Front States) entrusted the leverage on the warring principals to toe the line of peace. Thereafter, all the Parties and Stakeholders were invited back to Addis Ababa under auspices of the new Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to sign the R-ARCSS finally in Addis Ababa on 12 September 2018, following on the first handshake and triple hugging in his Palace on 5 June 2018.

Though the Envoys of the Troika (U.S, UK and Norway) and other International Partners maintained their interactive engagements inside negotiations rooms and corridors during the haggling for peace compromise by the Parties, they declined at the last rush-hour to append their signatures on the R-ARCSS text. They might have seen R-ARCSS as an ambitious peace deal whose timelines would not be met competently by the Parties as scheduled. Also they might have detected serious mistrust and discomfort by the principal Parties to work together with a common purpose of ending the war and developing their country in peace.

The international penholders and key partners of South Sudan decided to tactically withhold direct funding for R-ARCSS pre-transitional activities, arguing that the Incumbent Government of National Unity (TGoNU) should take full responsibility to finance the peace process using oil and other national revenues as pledged in the breakthrough of the HLRF in Khartoum. Calling upon international donors to throw in their funding in black hole as it used to be in the past should come as supplementary initiative after seeing the Parties scoring progressive achievements on R-ARCSS, especially on governance and security.

Despite all the above, the Troika and international partners kept intact their participation in the meetings of the Reconstituted JMEC; in the activities of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM); and in the follow-up on the other mechanisms and institutions R-ARCSS implementation. The U.S has remained to be the biggest spender on developmental and humanitarian aid as well as peacekeeping financing in South Sudan (over 14 billion USD since 2005) alongside with the European Union, United Kingdom and other partners who have been supporting education and human rights sectors.

Previously and after declining to append its signature on the R-ARCSS, the People’s Republic of China decided to sign the same text later on 4 December 2018 in Juba through its outgoing Ambassador He Xiangdong, witnessed by the IGAD Special Envoy, Ambassador Dr. Ismail Wais of Djibouti. Additionally, China has been donating thousands of metric tons of genetically modified rice for humanitarian purposes of fighting hunger in South Sudan.

Members of R-ARCSS committees and commissions kept on meeting and deliberating in hotels in Juba on their mandate of providing political or technical backstopping for taking the peace process forward. Out of over 285 million U.S Dollars budgeted by the NPTC for financing the activities of the peace agreement, the Ministry of Finance and Planning deposited over 10 million U.S dollars and few millions South Sudanese Pounds only in the Bank of South Sudan. Some connected business community in Juba raised over 500 thousand US dollars and 554 million South Sudanese pounds for the same purpose but to no avail of the sufficient fund needed for financing peace process accordingly.

The Government of Japan donated 3 million USD for supporting the activities of the IGAD Special Envoy on South Sudan and 1 million USD for some activities of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) through Country Office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Also Japan pledged 25 million USD for leapfrogging the peace process and developmental projects in South Sudan, including renovation of Upper Nile University with amount of 2.5 million USD and other more donations.

The Government of Norway has rolled out an initial donation 8 million USD for supporting the R-ARCSS implementation capacity of the government at national and local levels in 2019 once the Parties reach a consensus to finally form the R-TGoNU. This is in addition to the huge amount that Norway has spent on South Sudan through the custody of United Nations missions and agencies as well as through civil society and humanitarian agencies.

The Government of the Netherlands has put in its 6-year plans of supporting peace in South Sudan via initiatives of creating 6000 job for youth in different parts of the country in accordance with Chapter IV of R-ARCSS. This is in addition to 30 million USD that it has disbursed in 2018 for local NGOs and civil society to spend on humanitarian assistance and gender empowerment in partnership with United Nations agencies and other international NGOs. However, all these donations and many more for the welfare of South Sudanese by the Government and People of the Kingdom of Netherlands would not yield the desired significant results if instability does not come to an end in South Sudan.

As part of their move to mobilize funds for peace, the NPTC members visited Egypt where they met President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi on 14 march 2019. Egyptian Government pledged to support the R-ARCSS implementation, especially for cantonment and training of unified armed forces of the Parties and capacity building for the civil servants. The same members of the NPTC went to the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa to seek support for mobilization of donor funding for peace process in South Sudan.

After touring Bahr el Ghazal in February and March 2019 for peace agreement dissemination campaign at the grassroots, President Salva Kiir Kiir was joined by Dr. Riek Machar from Khartoum as they converged in Vatican City on 10 – 11 April for a joint special ecumenical spiritual retreat that brought together (for the first time in Church History) the Roman Catholic Pope Francis, the Canterbury Archbishop and Anglican Primate Most Rev. Justin Welby, and Scottish Presbyterian former Moderator Rev. John Chalmers. Also the incumbent TGoNU First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and Mama Rebecca Nyandeng were invited in the company of renowned Christian leaders of South Sudan and Uganda.

In an extraordinary humility at the conclusion of the retreat, the 82 Years Holy See surprised the Four South Sudanese leaders (2 from Nuer and 2 from Dinka) when he knelt down—with difficulty at the end of his Pontifical Discourse on the situation of South Sudan—to kiss the feet of each of them. The spiritual gesture went viral in the media, sending mixed reaction on the influence this would have on peace speed in South Sudan. Yet the SPLM/A-IO Dr. Riek Machar came out publicly in the hotel while in Rome to air out his chilling fear that it won’t be possible to form the RTGoNU in the agreed time. He argued for postponement of this for 6 months so that the necessary security and legal arrangements could be completed to guarantee the legitimate exercise of the assigned political responsibility.

On the Eve of Easter on 20th April 2019, President Salva Kiir went on air in the State TV to tell the people of South Sudan and the World that he has invited Dr. Riek Machar and other opposition leaders to Juba to participate in the RTGoNU that he would like to form on 12 May 2019 in accordance with the R-ARCSS. He decried that the delay to do this in time will sent a mistrustful message to the people and create lack of confidence in the political leadership of the country. He appealed that whatever has not been accomplished during the 8-month pre-transitional period could be carried over for completion in the 36-month transitional period.

Also President Salva Kiir and a high-level delegation from Juba visited the United Arab Emirates where he met Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi on 23 April 2019 and got a grant of 10 million USD for empowering the youth and women in small enterprises as required in Chapter IV of R-ARCSS. The Transitional National Legislature ended its recess and the tour of some of its members at the grassroots to disseminate the R-ARCSS and preach the good news of peace with apology from the President of the Republic before they resume their legislative duty on 2 May 2019. Hence, more political manoeuvring is awaited a head.


The institutionalized implementation of R-ARCSS was kick-started without demonstrable seriousness and political will from the Parties and the IGAD Guarantors themselves, except for occasional ceremonial appearances (e.g., Grand Peace Celebrations organized in the Freedom Square of Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba on 31st October 2018). Similar peace celebrations and R-ARCSS dissemination campaigns took place in different states of South Sudan where government officials were seen coming together with opposition actors to demonstrate their commitment to trust-building for welcoming the post-war era.

Despite all the above appearances of confidence building and support, no significant progress has been made to conclude the 8-month pre-transitional period successfully as promised in the spirit and letter of the R-ARCSS. Ironically, and as the people of South Sudan and international community have been bombarded with public statements that there are no resources for R-ARCSS implementation, the Minister of Petroleum and the NPTC Chairperson as well as some other VIPs of the Incumbent TGoNU were seen in many occasions donating huge money to their tribal communities and churches under pretext of charitable philanthropy.

The lavish lifestyle of Government and Opposition VIPs in Pyramid Continental and other Five Star Hotels inside South Sudan and abroad, in addition to their constantly exaggerated first-class trips abroad, became an open indication that South Sudan is not short of secretly transacted wealth for individual enjoyment instead of financing peace as the common good in the land of great abundance (as it is written in the National Anthem). A lot of public monies have been used for renovation of private houses of government VIPs and buying luxurious cars (Toyota V8s, Hard-tops and Pick-ups) with inflated prices.

The incumbent TGoNU went as far as contracting a public relations lobbying firm in U.S with 3.7 million USD to mend the fractured relations with President Trump’s Administration, bent the targeted sanctions against some individuals and entities, and obstruct the establishment of AU-led Hybrid Court for South Sudan in order to avoid accountability against the gravest crimes committed during the civil war. This has angered the Troika and friendly international partners, forcing the U.S Ambassador in Juba to go public in protest of the misappropriated priorities by some South Sudanese government authorities.

The uncaring behaviour and misconduct of the principal Parties of the R-ARCSS has remained unchanged. They renegotiated an ambitious agreement they had failed to implement in the past but ran away with its partial collapse without being denied a second chance to continue ruling the country on unending transitional crises. The SPLM-IG apologist have been immersed in reckless arrogance of clinging to power and mismanagement of public resources.

The same mentality abound with SPLM/A-IO apparatchiks who think they are the only formidable ‘government-in-waiting’ to shift the state guards by any means of jumping into power and its immune privileges. It is also extended to the SPLM-FDs conspirators who have nostalgically assigned themselves historical ascription for heirs of Dr. John Garang de Mabior’s new Sudan leadership. Not to forget the divided South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and Other Political Parties (OPP) most of whose leaders decided to become ‘easy-going’ satellites of the ruling regime instead of standing firm for change of the entrenched deformities that sink the country into the abyss.

With this recurring bad faith, the R-ARCSS Parties have been used to being handled kindly with soft gloves by the region and international community. Further, the people of South Sudan have not yet shown them any ugly rough side of protectable disappointments as experienced in other countries. Hitherto, the political leaders of South Sudan have been the luckiest ones in the region because of the forgiving nature of their citizens. They have repeatedly been allowed to enjoy the natural abundance of public resources despite their records of dishonouring the fiduciary entrustment for public responsibilities as a social contract.

Most of those leaders seem not to value or perceive secured livelihood outside privileges and immunities of public power. Yet, they had demonstrated unremorseful incompetence in running the independent South Sudanese state affairs. They had ignored the power of visionary developmental strategic thinking for nation-building. They find consolation in wasting time retelling the outdated victories of the liberation struggles in the bushes of South Sudan, forgetting their responsibility in the modern state in globalized era of human rights.

All the above-mentioned factors and motives, among others, have put the Republic of South Sudan at the bottom of ratings of non-successful states in the world. Alas! Yet the principal R-ARCSS signatories have been sitting comfortably over these disgusting fragilities and hubs of bad news. Their vulnerable citizens had known nothing much in their lifespans of their independent country save for recurrent eruption of politically-motivated deadly conflicts and abhorrent displacements from their ancestral lands.

Findings from research and scientific studies of failed states have diagnosed it copiously that  the rooted fragilities usually result in perpetuation of cycles of violence, humanitarian catastrophe, economic breakdown, unfit governments and unrealistic opposition that do not prioritize relieving of their people’s suffering and addressing the un-dignifying deprivation. The leaders of such a plagued countries depend on everyday survival politics with no futuristic outlook or visionary will to empower their people well. Such leadership exhibits these:

  1. Dynamics of self-serving actors with entrenched ambitions for endless control of power and resources regardless of the required responsibility for safeguarding the common good of the nation and the state without compromising integrity.
  2. Reckless adoption of unsustainable mechanisms of governance (e.g., crooked security approaches; anarchical political economies and humanitarian catastrophes).
  3. Outdated institutional engineering with bureaucratic deforms and poor performance, including entertainment of incompetence and lack of prudent public leadership.
  4. Recurrent senseless violence exacerbated by rotten social fabrics, riveting dramatic events and politically-motivated complex tragedies against humanity.
  5. Dramatic collapse though with hopeful ending at times, which leaves everyone dumfounded by turns and twists of emerging new realities that are contrary to what was thought to be a final doom of the nation.

More alarmingly the promoted violence usually disrupts the disposition of the common good and violates the fundamental human rights to the most degraded senselessness level. However, the bad regimes always eat themselves up alone with inevitable collapse overtime. Their undesirable status quo can only get deleted from existence by dismantling the instruments of violence they use as well as removing all the incentives of war. That is why the following pragmatic questions of critical inquiries have been lingering in minds of many concerned people about the fate of South Sudan vis-á-avis R-ARCSS reality:

  • Why and how the parties signed the R-ARCSS after haggling for over two years under IGAD-led HLRF for peace talks?
  • What will make it different for the Revitalized Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) this time to implement the R-ARCSS fully without another relapse?
  • Will the known political leaders of South Sudan manage to trust themselves in the same coalition government, especially H.E. Salva Kiir and Dr. Rieck Machar?
  • What shall be unique for the people of South Sudan and the sympathetic international community to get optimistic that the veteran political leaders will be honest to commit themselves fully to pursuit of genuine peace?
  • What about those who have not signed the R-ARCSS but could cause further insecurity in South Sudan (e.g, SSUF of Paul Malong and NAS of Thomas Cirillo)?


The conflict over formation or postponement of establishment of RTGoNU came to the surface at the conclusion of the joint visit of the Incumbent TGoNU’s President Salva Kiir and SPLM/A-IO Chairman Dr. Riek Machar to Vatican City for ecumenical spiritual retreat with special Pontifical feet-kissing surprise in the evening of 11 April 2019. While this stalemate is gaining unpredictable storms, the SSOA has remained divided in fragmentation. Also the FDs have remained ambiguously confused to come out openly with a common position on averting the breeding controversy. Further, the OPP have continued to speak with many contradictory voice and tongues without clear focus.

The RJMEC) has been existing without proper Chairperson and deputy except for the temporary arrangements to have Acting Chairperson, the Kenyan Ambassador and Retired Army General Augostino Njoroge. Also the IGAD Special Envoy, Ambassador Dr. Ismail Wais, has been shuttling to Juba constantly but with no real leverage on the leadership of R-ARCSS Parties. Hence, they had to resort to the drawing board in Addis Ababa by inviting the Parties to generate consensus on justifiable way forward for exiting the stalemate of forming the RTGoNU or delaying it to a later date.

But whatsoever happened to the Parties and the Guarantors, they should be reminded of their commitment to implement the R-ARCSS in letter and spirit, including the necessary amendment if needed for the good of peace process. They are obliged to work collectively through their delegates in the committees and commissions that are set up for institutional implementation of R-ARCSS, and then brings RTGoNU into political scene as the core instrument for moving the peace process forward with clear mandate at national and local tier of government. Prior to that the following key activities were supposed to carried out as provided in articles 1.4, 2.1 & 2.2 of R-ARCSS:

  1. Incumbent TGoNU to continue exercising its powers as per the TCRSS (2011 as amended) during the 8-month pre-transitional period and act as a caretaker therein.
  2. The parties to end the war and work collectively for peace and stability, using the resources of the country wisely and transparently for the welfare of the people, and putting in place efficient mechanisms for achieving these goals before appealing to the international community for support.
  3. The IGAD-led Mediation to revitalize and restructure all monitoring and evaluation mechanisms with inclusion of all parties and enhancement of effectiveness.
  4. The Parties to disseminate the R-ARCSS to South Sudanese inside the country, in different cities and refugee camps in neighbouring countries, and in Diaspora.
  5. President of the Republic of South Sudan to appoint members of the NPTC as nominated by R-ARCSS Parties as oversight body to coordinate the pre-transitional activities (e.g., draw roadmap for implementing political tasks; prepare a budget for the activities and manage transparently the peace fund deposited in the BoSS and report on it monthly to the President of the Republic and the Parties; address the issues of VIP security as per security arrangements; submit monthly written reports to Chairperson of the RJMEC as well as to the parties and other stakeholders; and prepare for new Ministers, etc) in collaboration with the Incumbent TGoNU.
  6. The Parties to participate in the tasks entrusted to TBC, IBC and Referendum Commission on Number and Boundaries of States (RCNBS).
  7. The Parties to initiate national healing and reconciliation process with involvement of faith-based and civil society groups inside and outside South Sudan.
  8. The Parties to participate in incorporation of R-ARCSS into TCRSS (2011) by NCAC, including enshrining 35% participation of women in executive positions as well as striving to include youth in their quotas at different levels of RTGoNU and with Minister of Youth and Sports position assigned to a person not less than 40 years old, and giving due consideration to national diversity and regional representation in such nominations.
  9. The Parties to participate in reviewing and drafting necessary bills on legislations of the security and democratic multiparty participation.
  10. The Parties to initiate other necessary agreed activities, including devolution of more powers and resources to lower levels of government.
  11. The Parties to commit themselves to security arrangement activities as stipulated in R-ARCSS Chapter II and executed via mechanisms of Joint Defence Board (JDB); Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC); Joint Technical Security Committee (JTSC); Area Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (AJMCC); Joint Military Ceasefire Teams (JMCTs); Sector 1/Equatorial Area Committee, Sector 2/Upper Nile Area Committee, Sector 3/Bahr El Ghazal Area Committee and their respective Monitoring and Verification Teams/Sites (MVTs/Sites); and Strategic Defence and Security Review Board (SDSRB) to ensure the following critical undertakings:
  1. Observation of cessation of hostilities meticulously throughout South Sudan, including expulsion of the allied non-South Sudanese armed groups and release of prisoners of war as well as detainees.
  2. Disengagement, separation of forces and collection of long and medium range heavy weapons after which cantonment and screening shall take place and classified according to known military criteria followed for the purposes of recruitment for the army, police, national security and other services.
  3. Determination of the type and size of forces agreed to in the PCTSA Workshop in Khartoum on September 27, 2018 for unified training (i.e.; 11 Divisions for Military  with 6 in Phase I and 5 in Phase II; 3 Divisions for NSS with 2 in Phase I and 1 in Phase II; 25,000 troops for National Police with 13,000 in Phase I and 12,000 in Phase II; 87,000 troops for States Police with 45,000 in Phase I and 42,000 in Phase II; 25,000 troops for Wildlife with 2,500 in Phase I and 2,500 in Phase II; 31,500 troops for Prisons  with 16,500 in Phase I and 15,000 in Phase II; 13,000 troops for Fire Brigade with 6,500 in Phase I and 6,500 in Phase II; and Protection Unit for VIPs and main urban centres to be prioritized as urgent).
  4. Cessation of recruitment and training of armed forces outside the agreed mechanisms of unification and DDR, including immediate demilitarization of civilian areas (e,g. schools, service centres, ritual centres, occupied houses, IDP camps and POCs, villages, churches, mosques and livelihood areas).
  5. Non-restriction of the movement and access by CTSAMVM and UNMISS/RPF personnel to perform their duties as prescribed by their mandates.
  6. Facilitate voluntary repatriation, resettlement, rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees from refuge and IDPs by ensuring opened humanitarian corridors for relief and inculcating the impression of advent of sustainable peace in South Sudan.
  7. Adhere to full compliance with international humanitarian law and protection of human rights of individuals and communities, including free movement of citizens as well as of the commodities and services.

More specifically, Article 2.5.3 underscores four stages of security transformation and DDR to be completed within 120 days, 150 days and 180 days respectively during pre-transitional period and before entering transitional period:

Within thirty (30) days of the signing of this Agreement (inclusive of formation of the Board), the SDSR Board shall undertake the Strategic Security Assessment. The Board shall make use of previous documents, including a) the Strategic Security Assessment; b) the Security Policy Framework; and c) the Revised Defence Policy. The results of the assessment shall inform the requirements of the armed forces, national security service and other organised forces which shall be the basis for the formulation of the country’s Defence and Security policies leading to the overall restructuring of the security organs. The restructuring shall include the future command, function, size, composition and budget of the national army, national security service other organised forces, and requirements for DDR.”


The R-ARCSS is not exceptional to other peace agreements, neither is it written on stone. It remains fragile to exit the trapping vicious circles of unplanned senseless wars, which usually drain the desired assurances and trust in its government, opposition, political parties, civil societies, interest groups and the entire country. This affects the advent of the desired international standards of fundamental human rights and respect for humanitarian law, especially when bloody violence is promoted not as last resort for a just cause; when the war is declared without legitimate authority or proportionality for self-defence; when non-combatants are not discriminated; and when the monopoly of violence is unleashed without intention to restore peace and security in tranquil manner.

As nothing stands strategically designed to pursue the undignified path of politics by means of violence and counter survival, the sustainability of running South Sudan on war addiction would get squeezed soon into irrational arena of unsophisticated parochial superstitions. History is full of refreshing hints on fate of governments, opposition groups and political leaders who defied welfare of citizens and failed to protect categorically the collective interest of the nation with imperative preservation of human dignity and livelihood stability. That is why South Sudan should not be allowed to sink deeper into abyss of uncontrollable crises of wars and insecurity, which have been so often promoted by the shaky transitional governments of elites and armed generals. The repercussions of ‘failed African solution’ shall always spell a bitter doom for South Sudan, the region, the continent and the world at large.

The rescue from such precarious situation could only emerge from the opportunity of implementing the R-ARCSS with strong foundation of fair justice, sustainable security, inclusive development, universal human rights, fundamental liberties, rule of good law, outreaching humanitarianism, supremacy of the common good, truthful healing reconciliation, institutional transformation, strategic stake-holding networks, friendly external  partnerships, strategic foreign policy cooperation, effective legitimate leadership, and supportive enlightened conscious citizenry. Therefore, it is high time for culture of peace to prevail so as enable sanity of stability to come back for the people of South Sudan to keep their Republic safe and strong for posterity, using mixed models of conflict resolution (context, timing, attitude, behaviour, management, reforms, transformation and change) with informed participatory awareness and involvement in critical decision-making.

Dr. James Okuk (PhD) is Political Analyst and Researcher based in Juba, South Sudan. He is reachable at

The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.