Kenyan senator calls Kiir’s government illegitimate, says it should be disarmed

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NAIROBI (24 Dec.)

A Kenyan lawmaker has called South Sudan’s government illegitimate and urged the United Nations to establish a trusteeship to restore peace and order to the troubled country.

“People are being killed without rhyme or reason; homes have been destroyed almost everywhere; gang raping of women by undisciplined soldiers goes on unabated; and hunger looms large in every village or in the forests where people are hiding,” says Anyang’ Nyong’o, senator from Kenya’s Kisumu County.

“All this happens when there is a government in Juba claiming to be in charge and to rule the country legitimately. Nothing could be further from the truth,” adds the lawmaker.

Senator Nyong’o’s remarks, published as a column in the weekend edition of The Star newspaper, also endorse the position of Professor Mahmood Mamdani of the African Union Commission of Inquiry that South Sudan be placed under an international caretaker government.

Mamdani has recommended that the African Union should lead this effort, whereas Senator Nyong’o today advised instead that the United Nations should lead the trusteeship.

Regional powers, the US and the UK last year ignored Mamdani’s recommendation that President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar be excluded from post-war leadership. Instead, they backed an August 2015 deal that made them co-principals in a new power-sharing government.

That power-sharing deal broke down in July this year after conflict erupted in Juba, sending Machar running and leaving Kiir alone in power backed by only a rump faction of rebel SPLA-IO. In a bid to consolidate his power and secure more international legitimacy after the breakdown of the coalition government, Kiir has recently announced a ‘National Dialogue’.

Senator Nyong’o today criticized countries that have endorsed the new status quo instead of supporting the original power-sharing agreement, and he predicted that the National Dialogue is “unlikely to provide anything new.”

“The ill-fated decision by some [UN] member states to shelve the Arusha Accords and the Addis Ababa Agreement and seek to stabilize the current government in Juba in exclusion of Riek Machar will not lead to the peace and stability being sought.”

He continued, “It is not the person of Riek Machar which matters; it is the social forces and interests he represents, or such interests which see him as ‘their leader’. This may be unpalatable to some people inside and outside South Sudan, but ignoring it in working out a peace formula is an exercise in futility.”

Nyong’o went on to refer to the proposal by Professor Mahmood Madani of Uganda to place South Sudan under international trusteeship.

“I support Mamdani one hundred and one percent. Many other South Sudanese intellectuals, including Dr. Lako Jada Kwajok, have called for trusteeship in South Sudan. This proposal has increasingly gained support the more the conflicting forces become intolerant and the more lives are lost.”

The lawmaker added that the UN would be foolhardy not to discuss the proposal and said that the trusteeship should begin by disarming all the armed parties, “including the government.”

However, some other Kenyan MPs strongly support the government of President Salva Kiir. Hon. Weston Wanjohi, a member of the ruling Jubilee coalition, recently led a delegation to Juba to meet with top officials there and he cheered the deportation of rebel spokesman James Gatdet from Nairobi, who is now held in security custody in Juba.

For his part, Nyong’o is the secretary-general of the Orange Democratic Movement in Kenya and formerly served as the Minister of Medical Services in President Mwai Kibaki’s government.

Writing of a proposed international disarmament intervention in South Sudan he said, “What is more expensive: to pay for Peace Keeping forces for a long time into the future… or to take a surgical operation which will get rid of the problem within 5 years and avoid paying for Peace Keeping forces in perpetuity?”

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