Who Shall Be South Sudan Vice President On SSOA’s Ticket?

The Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan R-ARCSS provides that President Salva Kiir shall continue as President of the Republic of South Sudan, and Dr Riek Machar shall assume the position of the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan respectively, during the period of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.

In addition to them, there shall be four (4) Vice Presidents in the Republic of South Sudan, who shall be nominated as follows: 1- Vice President to be nominated by Incumbent Transitional Government of National Unity TGoNU, to oversee Economic Cluster; 2- Vice President to be nominated by SSOA to oversee Services Delivery Cluster; 3-Vice President to be nominated by Incumbent TGoNU to oversee Infrastructure Cluster; and 4- Vice President to be nominated by FDs, who shall be a woman, Gender and Youth Cluster.

The First Vice President shall oversee Governance Cluster, according to the Agreement, apart from the First Vice President, there shall be no hierarchy among the Vice Presidents and the ranking provided for in the Agreement is “for protocol purposes only.”

The Council of Ministers of the RTGoNU shall comprise thirty-five (35) Ministries that shall be organised as per the five (5) clusters, the Agreement says.

Article 1.10.2 of the ARCSS provides for the Governance Cluster, twelve (12) Ministries: Presidential Affair; Cabinet Affairs; Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Defence and Veterans Affairs; Interior; Peace Building; Justice and Constitutional Affairs; National Security; Parliamentary Affairs; Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services; Federal Affairs; and East African Community Affairs.

Article 1.10.3 of the ARCSS provides for Economic Cluster, eleven (11) Ministries: Finance and Planning; Petroleum; Mining; Agriculture and Food Security; Livestock and Fisheries; Trade and Industry; Environment and Forestry; Water Resources and Irrigation; Land, Housing and Urban Development; Wildlife Conservation and Tourism; and Investment.

Article 1.10.4 of the ARCSS provides for Service Cluster, five (5) Ministries: Higher Education, Science and Technology; General Education and Instruction; Health; Public Service and Human Resources Development; and Labour; The Infrastructure Cluster, three (3) Ministries: Energy and Dams; Transport; and Roads and Bridges.

Article 1.10.6 of the ARCSS provides for The Gender and Youth Cluster, four (4) Ministries: Gender, Child and Social Welfare; Humanitarian Affairs & Disaster Management; Culture, Museums & National Heritage; and Youth and Sports.

According to the Agreement, The Ministerial positions shall be allocated as follows:

Incumbent TGoNU: 20 Ministries; SPLM/A-IO: 09 Ministries; SSOA: 03 Ministries; FDs: 02 Ministries; and OPP [Other Political Parties]: 01 Ministry.

Though it is currently known that Rebecca Nyandeng Garang is the nominee for Vice President under FDs ticket and though it is widely believed that First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and Vice President James Wani Igga shall be Vice Presidents on the two tickets of the incumbent TGoNU, it remains unknown who shall be Vice President on SSOA’s ticket.

When SSOA was formed, the parties that signed its Charter are FDP/SSAF led by Gabriel Changsong Chang, FDs led by Pagan Amum Okiech, NAS led by Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka, NDM led by Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, PDM led by Dr. Hakim Moi, SSLM/A led by Gen. Bapiny Monytuil, SSNMC led by Gov. Joseph B. Bakosoro, SSPM led by Dr. Costello Garang Ring, SSUM/A led by Gen. Peter Gadet Yak and UDRA led by Dr. Gatweth K. Thich, according to an online publication.

In between, several events have taken place: FDs do not anymore participate on SSOA’s affairs while Pagan Amum has formed a new opposition outfit called R-SPLM though many of his FDs colleagues are in Juba for R-ARCSS implementation; NAS has split into two, one led by Gen Cirilo and it’s not a signatory to the R-ARCSS while another led by Khalid Butrous and they are in Juba for R-ARCSS implementation; PDM is also divided into two, one led by Dr. Hakim Moi and it’s not a signatory to the R-ARCSS while another led by Josephine Lagu and they are in Juba for R-ARCSS implementation; then there is UDRA led by Dr. Gatweth K. Thich which is also not part of the NAS in Juba.

There are efforts being made to include the non-signatories of the R-ARCSS into the Agreement, as well as those who broke out from SSOA. However, they have already formed a new group opposed to Juba and the R-ARCSS.

Given those left on board, if the implementation of the R-ARCSS is to proceed, who shall be Vice President of South Sudan on SSOA’s ticket?

There are several theories, however, two have caught my attention. The first one is from an insider during the revitalization of the ARCSS in Khartoum last year who said that the mediation team convinced SSOA that since South Sudan Presidency shall be comprised of six individuals including the President, for the sake of regional/tribal balance, former Gov. Joseph B. Bakosoro shall be South Sudan Vice President on SSOA’s ticket.

According to the insider, that arrangement was made by the mediators (the previous Khartoum regime) and was based on the understanding that President Kiir and Rebecca Nyandeng Garang are Dinka, Dr Riek Machar and Taban Deng are Nuer; and James Wani and former Gov. Joseph B. Bakosoro are from Equatoria, the six of whom were expected to make up the Presidency. But now given that there’s a new regime in Khartoum, it is unclear if that arrangement still have a strong diplomatic backing.

The second theory I came across is from one commentator who argued that President Kiir is ahead of state and represents everyone hence one position of Vice President should go to Bahr el Gazal region. But this reasoning is problematic because even the Vice Presidents do not represent their regions (at least first) but their respective parties.

So, who shall be South Sudan Vice President on SSOA’s ticket? And how shall that decision be reached?

According to Article 9 of SSOA’s Charter available online, it establishes a Leadership Council for the Opposition Alliance.

Article 9 (1) of the Charter says the Leadership Council shall be the highest authority of the SSOA and shall determine the SSOA’s policies.

According to Article 9 (2), The Leadership Council shall consist of the Leader of each member of the SSOA.

Further, relevant provisions of Article 10 on the Function of the Leadership Council say, without prejudice to the generality of Article 9 (1), the Leadership Council shall have the following specific powers, duties and obligations:

• Propose and approve all policy positions of the SSOA relating to the objectives of the SSOA and this Charter.

• Approve the SSOA’s representatives to engage with key stakeholders, taking into consideration equitable representation of the members and gender.

• Ratify or approve the ratification of the rules and regulations of the SSOA.

• Approve the core minimum program of the SSOA.

• Elect the Chairperson, General Secretary, Military Coordinator and other office bearers of SSOA as specified in the Regulation

On 14th of last Month, six parties: PDM, SSPM, NDM, NAS (KB), SSLM, SSNMC participated in an election of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance in which Josephine Lagu was elected SSOA Chairperson, Hussein Abdel-Bagi, Deputy Chairperson, Dr Lam Akol, Secretary General, Gen. Khalid Butrous, Finance, Gen. Bapiny Monytuil, Security Coordinator, and former Gov. Joseph B. Bakosoro, External Relations.

Though the six parties say the exercise was conducted in line with their Charter and through a democratic and transparent manner, in the presence of Observers (AU, IGAD, EU, Troika, UNMISS, the Civil Society and the Media), two of SSOA's parties: the Federal Democratic Party (FDP) led by Gabriel Changson and the South Sudan United Movement (SSUM) led by Denay Chagor boycotted the elections?

Also, the “observers” did not sign a statement confirming that they did observe the exercise and it was democratic and transparent?

Why did Changson and Chagor boycott the elections?

If parties are not able to conduct such a simple democratic exercise, how then could the Country trust them with a much bigger democratic process or how would they nominate their representative to the post of the Vice President allocated to them? How different would they be from the SPLM which was unable to practice internal democracy within the party in 2013 and ended up dragging the country into violence and civil war?

Who exactly shall be South Sudan Vice President on SSOA’s ticket?

While having regional/tribal balance at the Presidency is important, adhering to SSOA’s Charter, Policies and having National Agenda and commitment to the implementation of the R-ARCSS are much more important.