South Sudan Peace Talk: IGAD Mediators Accused Of Partiality!
Updated at 3:55Am, August 29, 2014(PST).
August 28, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — While responding to the communique of the 27th Extraordinary Session and IGAD’s recent press release, the South Sudan armed opposition, SPLM/SPLA, has raised grave concerns about the capabilities and neutrality of the IGAD heads of states in South Sudan conflict.
The opposition believes that the two days consultations held by the IGAD Heads of State and Government with the two Principals namely, Dr. Riek Machar and Salva Kirr extended the negotiation dateline by 45 days to allow the leaders to study the protocol entitled “The Protocol on “Agreed” Principles on Transitional Arrangements towards Resolution of the Crisis in South Sudan”.
“The two principals be given more time to study the protocol document. Thus the forty five days were granted to complete the negotiations towards the peace agreement” part of the report reads.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Deselign, clearly stated that if the two principals agreed on a better principles, during the 45 days negotiation, then the IGAD shall endorse and adopt such a document.
“However, it was decided that in case the two principals agreed on a better text, the Heads of State and Government shall endorse that text as the final agreement.” Prime Minister Deselign said.
The South Sudanese leaders were not expected to sign the document at the first sight, however, the opposition are aggrieved by the practices they observed towards the end of the short summit .
While the document is entitled “Agreed”, the IGAD heads of states signed the protocol before it reaches the multi-stakeholders roundtable. Besides, the mediators passed on only the last page of the protocol to be signed by the South Sudanese leaders, Dr. Riek Machar and Salva Kiir.
The armed oppositions, SPLMN/SPLA, believes that the IGAD heads of state were trying to collect signatures of Dr. Machar and Salva Kiir to impose decisions that may not restore peace in the country.
“The IGAD Heads of State and Government decided to sign and own the Protocol Document submitted by the IGAD Mediators.” the report reads.
To complicate the matter further, the South Sudan’s president appended his signature on a “blank check”. The document that Salva Kiir signed, according to SPLM/SPLA [in opposition], was incomplete.
To Dr. Machar this was a “red line”. The armed opposition chairman asked for the text, however, he was turned down that he was not suppose to sign, despite that the document bears Machar’s names and space of signature.
“The special envoy, Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo presented the signatures’ page alone to both Dr. Riek Machar and President Kirr to append their signatures. President Salva Kirr signed, but Dr. Riek instead asked the Envoy why he had to sign a blank check, “Please bring me the text”, to which the envoy replied, “sorry, you were not supposed to sign”. the SPLM report continued.
It remains unclear how the mediators would have reacted if Dr. Machar signed the document, however, the opposition believes that Salva Kiir’s initial do not appear on the other pages.
“This explains why Salva Kirr’s initial do not appear on the other pages of the protocol document. This has created false impression that Dr. Riek Machar has refused to sign the protocol document” The Opposition stated.
This confuses the SPLM [in opposition]. The opposition urges IGAD and Salva Kiir to clarify what Kiir’s signature represents on the protocol.
According to the armed opposition, it is not clear if Salva Kiir signed as a head of a state or as a principal in the conflict. The South Sudanese president, unlike the IGAD heads of states, may not have read the full document, and was never required to sign the document.
“It is clear from the above that the IGAD had confused President Salva Kirr’s two roles: as Head of State as well as one of the principals to the conflict of South Sudan.” The SPLM-IO report continue.
The signatures of IGAD head of states on a document that has not been negotiated is questionable. The SPLM/SPLA believes that the document favors Salva Kiir, a leader whom they no longer acknowledge as a president but as a “symbol of genocide” in the country.
“The SPLM/SPLA feel aggrieved by the bias in favor of President Salva Kirr demonstrated by the IGAD Mediators in point 2 of the protocol document, which reads “The Heads of State and Government, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Transitional Government of National Unity shall be the elected, incumbent President of the Republic.” The report reads.
“The IGAD Mediators talk of President Salva Kirr’s legitimacy oblivious of the fact that he represents a symbol of genocide and crimes against humanity because of the massacre of twenty thousand ethnic Nuers he ordered in Juba between December 15th and 20th, 2013.” The SPLM said.
The oppositions believe that Salva Kiir has lost legitimacy among the South Sudanese communities and as such any peace deal that maintains Salva Kiir in presidency will keep the IDPs in the UNMISS camps and dwindle any hopes for peace.
“He will not command the confidence of a large section of South Sudan society. This is proven by the refusal of tens of thousands people to leave UNMISS camps in Juba, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu braving the most deplorable and degrading human condition in those camp.”The SPLM reiterated.
The SPLM/SPLA believes that IGAD is impartial. Thus, the opposition reminds the IGAD of president Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, who was forced out of office after his government slaughtered over two hundred protestors. To SPLM, it begs a question that the regional bloc struggles to keep Salva Kiir in power despite the death of over 20,000 civilians in the country.
“We want to refresh the Mediators’ memory of the situation in Ukraine, when the elected president Viktor Yanukovych was forced out of office because his government slaughtered over two hundred unarmed protestors. Does this not amount to double standards or are our regional leaders protecting their backs.” The SPLM reminds IGAD mediators.
The armed opposition believes that the regional bloc is bias and that their recent statement is draining what has been achieved and what was going to be achieved under their leadership.
“This statement not only jeopardizes the peace process but also waters down what the negotiators achieved in thematic committees [Committees on Governance, Security Arrangements and Wealth sharing] and indeed the other compromise that could have been agreed by the Parties to the conflict as win-win settlement.” The SPLM/SPLA believes.
According to the opposition, the roundtable talks, in absence of government delegation, addressed the root causes of the conflict and registered progresses, however, the opposition believes that the recent IGAD document, which originated from unknown sources, has confused the negotiators and will create mistrust among the parties involved in negotiation.
“The Thematic Committees achieved progress even in the absence of the Government Delegation. The IGAD Mediators shelved this progress achieved and smuggled in a document doctored somewhere outside the forum. This smuggled-in document is creating confusion and mistrust between the Envoys and the Parties.” The report continue.
Despite the weary road ahead, the opposition remain committed to IGAD led peace talks, however, SPLM/SPLA denounces any association with the “Protocol Document”.
“While, we in the SPLM/SPLA remain committed to the IGAD led peace process, we would like to inform our people in South Sudan and the general public that we are not party to this “Protocol Document” signed by the six leaders of IGAD, which favoured the party of Salva Kirr.” The SPLM reports
The opposition would like the international community and the South Sudanese to know that they will return to the talks in September “on the basis of the merged positions of all the Stakeholders achieved in the Thematic Committees”.
“We call on IGAD, its partners, the United Nations and the international community to appreciate our position in respect of the Protocol Document. We call on IGAD Mediators to revisit the region and international best practices in resolving conflicts of this nature.” the report concludes.
Summarized by Panoum Kor, edited by Deng Elijah.