By Hon. Oyet Nathaniel Pierino,
June 06, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —– International Relations is indeed full of anarchy and without rules; no permanent friend, no permanent enemy but permanent interests. The parties to the conflict competing interests and calculations is mainly centered on control of internal affairs of state; its governance nature, system and structures but little on international relations and it’s changing geopolitical interests.
While there are those actors who wish the people of South Sudan well others are engaged in predatory building of political and economic empires at the expense of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. All parties (government and oppositions) to the conflict may not have any foreign policy that upholds the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country since they are too weak to negotiate. Everyone (regime and oppositions) wants to survive! Both government and oppositions faced with survival requirements are too weak to negotiate fair terms for their country’s bilateral or multilateral relations.
This political reality may persist even far beyond revitalization or into the transitional period. The SPLA/M fought against the Jongolei Canals project from 1983, for 21 years but today SPLM led government under Salva Kiir signed agreements with Egypt to implement the project which will start soon. The country we are fighting over maybe doesn’t exist!; consequent to the heavy Debt burdens, give away contracts and mortgages of oils and exhaustion of royalties; lost of sovereignty/political independence and territorial integrity to unfair secret treaties and concessions signed during this senseless war. How can all these be reversed? While parties and stakeholders can disagree on internal political issues, there should be consensus on principles of international relations, an area of politics based on national interest and this should inform decisions at the both sides of political divides.
The powers have been holding Dr. Machar for 2 straight years incommunicado, now every country wants to host him in face to face talks with Salva Kirr. They are calculating the outcomes; the gains and lost. It’s common knowledge that the release of Dr. Riek will not take place like that of an ordinary prisoner, he is a political prisoner and a political leader of key player in the conflict. His release will be with lots of political and diplomatic engagements at all levels. Just like Nelson Mandela had to meet F.W. De Klerk; the South African white minority regime’s head and et al, and members of diplomatic corps that mattered to steer the country towards transition to democratic transformation. And so it’s expected of Dr. R. Machar.
The political context in the two scenario are different, personalities are also different. But Dr. Riek and president Kiir is presented with another opportunity to turn history around and put the interests of the country first and return South Sudanese; home, to their gardens, to their markets, to school, etc. while externally safeguard the independent and territorial integrity of the country. what does it take to do so? Is it the the ping pong of Addis Ababa HLRF or a new practical roadmap that address the internal and external political, security and economic challenges. That’s why the face to face meetings is big milestone and must be organized under a serious and honest neutral mediation and country and at another level. It should be comprehensive and robust. There was cost of freedom In the case of South African; the white minority regime and the rising black power had to give concessions, the white retained control over economy while the black majority took the political independence on top of other transitional justice arrangements. In the case of South Sudan, we are revitalizing a failed and expired agreement; the outstanding issues are mark, Riek and Kiir must make concessions on those issues.
The paradox is; While IGAD HLRF with little progress, is at advanced stage to succeed or to fail, any process or peace efforts must be complementary rather than substitute to the HLRF. At HLRF there is equilibrium of competing regional, and international interests; UN, AU, EU, Troika, IPF, IGAD plus, and IGAD (Summit, Council of Ministers and Special Envoy) etc. which can not be available under any unilateral forum.
No any one country however powerful in the region can guarantee any agreement that shall come out of the meeting of principals or revitalize agreement. It will take a concerted efforts of all stakeholders at HLRF.
Hon. Oyet Nathaniel Pierino is the SPLM/A(IO) Governor of Imatong State and a former head of political science department at Juba University. He can be reached through his email at email@example.com