The Loopholes: Or the Loops and the Holes in the Jonglei CPA
Several agreements have been initially agreed or decreed, but eventually violated. By who? No, that is not the interest of this writer. The first question is How? and the best question is not ‘By Who’ but ‘But Why’?
On the fifth day of the fifth month in the Year of Our Lord, AD 2012, I witnessed another comprehensive peace agreement in Bor, the capital ‘village’ of Jonglei State, dissimilar to the one I witnessed on January 9, 2005, in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. It is not my duty to explain why the two agreements are not the similar or how dissimilar they are. However, I will herein briefly explain why I think there are loopholes, say, the loops and the holes in our Jonglei CPA. Who dug them? Name them…!
From CPA to cpa
But before we name the loops and their holes according to the Jonglei accord, let us first know that every agreement in South/Sudan is penultimately a comprehensive peace agreement but ultimately a compressive peace argument. I mean the document that appears to be an agreement in the beginning turns out to be a piece of argument by the end. This is true of the Sudanese comprehensive agreement (CPA), as evidenced still today in Abyei and Panthou (let them call it Heglig/Hijlij). Unless we are careful, I mean extra careful, the Jonglei Communities Peace Accord (CPA) may follow suit. Why? How?
1- Attacks during peace talks
On the first of May, the day the talks kicked off at Dr. John Garang Hall in South Sudan Hotel, Bor, the Murle Community brought the opening ceremony to a standstill. They, in a kinda boycott, stood still from morning to afternoon, defying humble begging by Gov. Kuol Manyang and Gen. Kuol Dim, to join the rest of the communities and open the talks. Reasons: Their three traders were killed on the way from Bor to Pibor by some raiders. As soon as they entered the hall at around 3PM, Gen. Kuol Dim popped in with news of the Murle having attacked in a number of places named. The following morning, news came in that the alleged Murle attacked Ethiopia and killed 8, resulting in Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian Primier, indefinitely closing the border right from Raad to Maiwut, or as far as it stretches between Ethiopia and South Sudan. This was bad news to the Anyuak, whose king’s emissary had just complained that their community was anticipating the worst i.e. closure of border, as a result of the aggressive 4,000 Murle youths sighted along the border. It happened! It also happened in Twic East County in another fulfilment of a women representative who complained that the Murle had closed the roads between Bor and Panyagoor, making route diverted to the Toic (Nile). “If you want to go toTwic Payam of Maar, you will have to go and take a boat to Bor town, then back through Bor County to Twic County. Even as I am talking now, they may strike along the Toic,” she prophesied, and it happened that they attacked Dong village cattle camp on their way back from the Nile valley.
In addition, the timing of the peace process coincided with the disarmament exercise, both for peacemaking purposes in Jonglei State. However, the disarmament overspilled into peace conference hall. That is why Gen. Kuol Dim and his guys would stage news announcement before and after every session. “Out of the 52 attacks by Murle on Bor, Lou and also on the SPLA forces, only one was an attack on Murle, the recent one of the traders of yesterday,” the general revealed.
1- The Composition of the Presidential Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance in Jonglei State.
As if to tell the Jongleyans that you have all failed and, hence, are punished by having zero membership on the supreme committee that was appointed by the president of the Republic to bring final and long-last peace to the state tartered and scattered by numerous battles of cattle, a mistake was made. As is always the case with our African traditional lifestyle, there is no way a visitor should come to your house in the name of solving your problem, calling you unfit, hence, cooking your meal and serving it to you and your children, hands folded. This was mistake number one. How? The drivers of all the 8 peace caravan vans (cars), all come from Eastern Equatoria or so. The errand boys all come from Equatoria or so. The secretaries all come from Kenya, Uganda or Equatoria, but under an underlying organization called Sudan Council of Churches. I mean the official ones. And by ‘official ones’ I mean those who deserve payment by the end of the day. And indeed, they did, leaving our boys or other busybody gang with bones to ‘ngang ngang’ on.
2- Financial Disappointments
While the 75 peace caravan youth under Jonglei Civil Society Group were not a central part of the budget, they were an integral part of the peace tour throughout the state. The Presidential Committee asked them not only to present their peace approach but also to move with them in the villages. Indeed, they did so. However, by the end of the day, they ended up looking up to the manna that may fall after the Archbishop’s chairmanship. One of the youth made a comment that the collar guys were more unfriendly than the tie guys among the team members. Why? Only the God knows.
What this writer knows is not beyond his own woes, given his position on the civil society team. The SCC group, who stubbornly refers to us as organized youth and not Jonglei Civil Society Group, left a time bomb in our peace camp. After Sunday, May 6, I found myself in a mess to meddle in the puzzle of sharing out 11,000 (about 2,000 USD) among 75 card-holders of JCSG, an amount apparently half of each team secretary’s worth. The worst part of this deal is that all the money was pinned on the bills of accommodation and other services given to our boys, especially those who do not come from Greater Bor or Greater Akobo.
Another bone of contention and discontent was the artists (under Jonglei Art and Music Association), part of the civil society, whose final reward for entertaining, informing and pacifying the conferees was 2,000 SSP (don’t know the current value in US dollars). This amount given to 10 artists of differing messages and different ethnic origins was an insult to the unity of the conference participants. In fact, the amount given to all the 10 artists was really 2,000 SSP compared to the 10,000 SSP given to 2 artists who came from Juba. This meagre pay was half the pay of one driver who made a trip to Pibor or Ayod! Well, the problem was not the little money, the issue was little faith the peacemakers had, which resulted into them leaving the peace supportive camps on fire. This fulfills Chief Galuak Thow’s advice to Jonglei communities during the sessions:
2– The Peace Processes
The peace processes right from the village tours to the regional (or greater sections) conferences and the state conference were so hurriedly conducted in such a way that they could not sink deeper into the minds and hearts of the communities. Also, they were simultaneously conducted with the disarmament, hence the disarmament problems overspilled into the conference hall. For instance, in the beginning and the end of, say, every session, Lt. Gen. Kuol Dim Kuol, commander for Operations Restore Peace in Jonglei, would pop up every now and then to announce, “Murle criminals have attacked here, they also did it there, and were repulsed or are bieing pursued by our forces.” During the first day of the opening, the session was delayed upto the afternoon because the Murle community were boycotting the meeting. They heard in the morning that their traders were killed in a vehicle on the way to Pibor. This was neutralized by the similar news of Murle having attacked a vehicle in which two Ethiopian businessmen were killed on the way from Pibor. As if that was not enough, news trickled in that Ethiopia had indefinitely closed their border due to deadly attacked by Murle youth inside Ethiopian territory, making the cattle war of Jonglei an international conflict.
3- Lack of understanding among the peace actors.
As alluded to early in point No.1, the peace actors in Jonglei State seem to have been not on one unanimous slogan. Anyway, there was unanimity by some quarters almost turned it into enmity. For example, according to bystanders, there seemed to have been bad blood running between the Jonglei Civil Society Group and the Sudan Council of Churches, the former being the legally recognized umbrella for the civil society CBOs and associations in Jonglei as the latter is a dangling outfit of the Presidential committee in the sense that SCC is related to the Chairperson of the Committee, the Archbishop of Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan. The two were doing one thing but not thinking one thing, and this features greatly in their approaches as shown on the blocked presentation of the civil society, to which this writer is affiliated.
Also, according to many voices in the Presidential Committee and the State quarters, including their spectators, the Chairman, and in this case the Archbishop, almost sounded like the ‘harsh bishop’ in his handling of the dangling structures attempting to partake in the process. This is also seen in the way the greatest but most inclusive group, the Jonglei Civil Society youth peace caravan camps, were treated in the field as well as in the peace centre in Bor. As a result of this outlook by the members (especially the collar-wearing ones/thanks to the coat-wearing ones) of the Presidential Committee on Community Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance, there was little tolerance among the peace actors. This, therefore, is insinuated in the presentations of the JCSG (Jonglei Civil Society Group)’s, which inlcude the following.
NB: The following document should not be misunderstood for any rival paper. It is actually part and parcel of the implementation modality as adapted a day later, after the neglect by the Chairman. It was designed by the JCSG team to address the part three, which was deemed the most essential part of the conference, The IMPLEMENTATION modalities. Unfortunately, this third stage was not discussed by the delegates from all the counties of the state but by the presidential committee the night following the conference. Hence, the confusion by many delegates, not far from even the state authorities, who later asked when or how the implementation methodologies were designed. This attachment should not be taken as an answer to the said methodology but was an integral part, which is said to have been adopted in silence and in reference unilaterally by the committee later.
Presentation by Jonglei Civil Society Group
In the Jonglei Communities Peace Conference
South Sudan Hotel, Bor.
May 4, 2012
This presentation is a brief summary of the Phase I of the project called “Jonglei Peace Caravan Camp” carried out by Jonglei Civil Society Group; a consortium of community youth associations, CBOs, artists group, women groups and other stakeholders in the search for lasting peace in Jonglei State. The Phase I peace camping caravan was implemented by 75 youth volunteers from 45 local organizations subdivided into 5 camps namely: Greater Pibor Peace Caravan Camp (PPCC-1), Greater Akobo Peace Caravan (APCC-1), Greater Bor Peace Caravan (BPCC-1), Greater Fangak Peace Caravan (FPCC-1) and Mobile Peace Caravan Camp (MPCC-0) within a period of 75 days of field work. The youths were drawn by community appointment from five tribes of Jonglei State (with exception of Kachipo).
The following issues were examined and outlined from the whole report, whose parts have been exhausted by the community presentations during the conference. Therefore, the points mentioned herein might be a repetition but are tackled in a different way the Civil Society members wanted. In other words, they are the POTENTIAL THREATS TO THE COMPREHENSIVE PEACE IN JONGLEI unless (a) resolved comprehensively and (b) implemented strictly by all the relevant peace actors in the state.
a)- Potential Problems to the current Jonglei Peace Process
1- Reasons making disarmament not being comprehensive throughout the state
2- intra-community issues not yet solved within the tribes and among the counties themselves
3- The complex fate of the abductees (tracing, identification and reunification)
4- Poverty and economic disparity making local population vulnerable to manipulation
5- Youth Unemployment giving youth an excuse for raids, robberies and bad politics
6- Different interest groups among the peace actors in Jonglei
7- Political interference and external aggression
The JCSG members propose that the current Presidential Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance be transformed into a more permanent and more inclusive body i.e. Jonglei Peace and Development Authority (JPDA) comprising e.g. representatives from national government, state government, traditional authorities (chiefs), development partners (NGOs), and Civil Society to oversee the implementation committees and projects right after this Jonglei Communities Peace Conference.
1- A committee for youth and chiefs to be formed to accompany the SPLA disarmament forces in the villages and the SPLA to be legally empowered to use force wherever necessary.
2- Formation of a new committee to follow up and organize intra-communal dialogues, divided into three phases: youth dialogue, Chiefs dialogue, politician dialogue.
3- Formation of committee of chiefs and legal experts to follow up the abductees’ cases.
4- Formation of resource mobilization and sharing committee
5- Youth mobilization and engagement committee (under youth associations and civil society)
6- Jonglei Peace Actors Coordination Committee to solve problems of interests, differences, approaches, etc. among various peace actors.
7- Government and communities to establish joint intelligence systems to monitor activities of external aggressors and unscrupulous politicians.
c)- Action Points for JCSG
1- Continuation and sustainability of youth mobilization throughout Jonglei State to solve youth problems of idleness and violence.
2- Participation of Jonglei Civil Society members in the various peace implementation committees.
3- Training and capacity building of youth under JCSG
4- Participation in community development activities
d) Timeframe for the implementation of Jonglei Communities Peace Conference resolutions (counting down of the following deadlines begins from the closing date of the peace conference).
1- Formation of implementation committees: 2 weeks
2- Mobilization of resources: 4 weeks
3- Implementation of peace through development projects: 8 weeks after the formation of the committees
MAIN DOCUMENT FOR JONGLEI PEACE CONFERENCE
To read a complete document signed by all the chiefs of Jonglei State on May 5, 2012, please click the following links from the same blog: https://weakleak.wordpress.com/docleaks/ (Scroll the page towards the bottom to see the full document.)