Reflections and analysis on current IGAD’s attempts to strike a deal between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny in Addis Ababa.
By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak
June 28th 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The road to lasting peace on South Sudan still bumpy and staggering. On Wednesday June 21, 2018, IGAD and South Sudanese leaders converged in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for 32nd extra-ordinary IGAD summit on South Sudan civil war. The IGAD led peace process was initiated to push South Sudanese’s president Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar to reach a deal that could help bring to an end five years old conflict that killed tens of thousands South Sudanese people since its outbreak in 2013, just two years after the newest country in Africa and the world had earned its long time fought independence from Sudan. IGAD’s aim is to render the new nation an opportunity to iron out some outstanding issues that blockade progress toward lasting durable peace.
IGAD leaders had discussed and endorse a proposal to be adapted by the South Sudan warring parties. They wanted the final bridging proposal to be the basis of the peace revitalization agreement. Such proposal includes a creation of third Vice-President Position, increase of the cabinet to 42 ministers and 15 deputy ministers; revised responsibility such as sharing the formula in the cabinet at national and State levels. The proposal give the government 55%, SPLM/A-IO 25%, other opposition groups namely, FDs, OPP and SSOA 20% and also guarantees 35% for women’s participation in different institutions during the formation of the transitional government. Lastly, the proposal had suggested a position of a female vice president and deputy speaker.
Initially, the face to face meeting between South Sudanese leaders was facilitated by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed who is also the chairperson of East-African IGAD organization. He stated that time has come to act tough on those who are fueling the hostilities. They have to be told what they are doing is wrong. The crisis in South Sudan is affecting all regional States and that is why it has to come to an end. Dr. Abiy calls upon the parties to endorse IGAD bridging proposal for peace on South Sudan. He has rejected the positions of South Sudanese rival parties over peace implementation stated that, “now is the time, time for promises is over and time is not on our side. He further stated, “There is no shortage of ideas on how to resolve this tragic humanitarian crisis, the challenge is unwilling and uncommitted.
Dr. Abiy stressed that the suffering of South Sudanese should come to an end as quickly as possible. According to him, to achieve the goals of ending the conflict, South Sudanese and IGAD leaders cannot work like business as usual. Each second and each minute that passes with business as usual is miss-opportunity to save the lives of innocent South Sudanese who are dying daily across South Sudan and in neighboring countries.
Beside Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta who is also a rapporteur of IGAD peace process, called on the two South Sudanese leaders to build on the current momentum by mobilizing their citizens to support the implementation of the peace agreement. According to him, the peace agreement is the fundamental in the quest of creating an environment that would make South Sudan a stable and prosperous nation. He also called on the IGAD Council of ministers and IGAD special Envoy for South Sudan to engage with the parties within a fortnight and facilitate South Sudanese warring factions to iron out the outstanding issues. Such as the issue of security arrangement, system of governance, and the tendency of war hostility. Moreover, Kenyatta emphasized how the conflict has affected millions of South Sudanese people and how humanitarian law should be respected where parties should ensure humanitarian access to the people in need everywhere in South Sudan.
The African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki stated, South Sudanese citizens have suffered for very long time. In that regard, his organization is no longer pleased to see the escalation of hostilities. He and the team will do everything they can in their power to ensure that sustainable peace in the youngest African nation is realized.
Besides IGAD, African Union and all participant comments, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar are allowed to express their feelings on the matter. Instead of showing whether the two leaders agreed with bridging IGAD proposal, the two leaders spoke about J1 clashes in 2016. Each one of them explained his responsibility in the incident. Salva Kiir blamed the incident on Dr. Riek Machar before he advised him to avoid claiming the position of the First Vice President, instead, Dr. Riek should appoint different person to serve as the Vice President. On his part, Dr. Machar stressed the need of holding a new comprehensive process similar to 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement model that led to secession of South Sudan in 2011.
The regional leaders decided that the opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar is free to leave South Africa to any country of his choice except the IGAD region and that he will be allowed to enter and exit Sudan and Kenya for the duration of the peace process. Until when the regional bloc had deliberated on his final statue at the upcoming IGAD general assembly.
The East African bloc had also mandated Sudan’s President Omar Hassan AL Bashir to facilitate a second round of face to face discussion between Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar which has taken place today Monday June 25, 2018 to elaborate on Addis Ababa face to face talks. The communique had further instructed Kenya’s President UIhuru Kenyatta to facilitate a third face to face meeting between Salva and Riek in Nairobi. Both follow up discussions will be communicated to the next upcoming ordinary session of IGAD Assembly of the heads of State and Government.
Finally, the communique instructed the IGAD Council of Ministers to give guidance to Special Envoy for South Sudan on the remaining tasks to finalize the IGAD bridging proposal at the sideline of the 33rd African Union Summit that is going to be held at Noukacheut, Mauritania.
Although the initiative was about to bring peace, the rhetoric that had followed, was not a good gesture to bring mutual understanding between warring parties. The SPLM/A-IO expressed its doubts in reaching the deal. They believe there is no shortcut to peace. According to the IO, the best way to achieve lasting peace is to address deep seated root causes of the conflict before an ink could be penned. The government position is to deny Riek Machar the second powerful seat in the country. Government rejection of Dr. Riek Machar participate in the next transitional government is seen as a declaration of war by IO supporters.
All of these political calculations and diplomacy maneuvers cannot work until when all parties accept each other. No document will restrain the years of animus built up between tribes of South Sudan without creating a way that will channels from the anger and fear into positive purposeful engagement that is formally legitimized by all tribes.
Warring parties should work in the interest of national unity and to enable the country to function most effectively in the changed political conditions and to make still greater contributions toward winning the war and securing a durable peace, recommended that all parties should renounce the hatred rhetoric like the one we heard from Makuei Lueth after face to face meeting between Riek and Salva.
In summing, we need to create policy to work together in complete agreement on the scope to guarantee mutual understanding to make peace which will command good will from ordinary masses of South Sudanese people and banish the scourge of war for many generations in order to establish a nation that uphold democratic principle overwhelmingly.
Everyone in South Sudan who wants to exclude one or another group, is not working to bring much needed peace. They are just buying time not to be seen as warmongers by IGAD and its partners. South Sudanese leader need to build trust between themselves. They need a broad coalition that aim on democratic transformation within which the recourse to armed struggle to settle disputes is abolished and all relations are determined through free discussion, free political association, and universal suffrage. When we get rid of ethnocentric, South Sudan will realize its true potential and began to thrive to fulfil the discourse of its long struggle for freedom and harmony.
The author is a political commentator: he should be reached firstname.lastname@example.org