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Opinion: Pursuing peace in South Sudan and why IGAD should reverse gears

By Bany Teny

South Sudanese members of prisoners of war and political detainees holding hands after their release in Juba, South Sudan(Photo: file)
South Sudan President Salva Kiir attends a South Sudan peace meeting as part of talks to negotiate an end to a civil war that broke out in 2013, in Khartoum, Sudan June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

November 27th 2019 (Nyamilepedia) – Since December 15, 2013, South Sudanese and all other peace loving nations from all walk of lives have been consistently searching for lasting peace but can this be achieved with Salva Kiir Mayardit in the presidency?

With all indications so far, I would say for certain that a durable, credible, meaningful and lasting peace would never be attained as long as Mayardit remained the president of South Sudan despite his earlier promise that he “would always” work to bring peace.

It is true that all parties to this imposed human sufferings called it “senseless war” and as such it should be stopped after realizing that people are sick and tired of war as Mayardit himself admitted during his speech on May 9th 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“The best thing, which we have done today is that we have ended this black page of our history. And if we continue to work according to what we have signed, yes, this bleeding will stop. Nobody will again open fire on another person.

“I personally know that I was elected by all these people who are dying today. These are the people who voted for me. I have no reason to turn against them, to kill them. I have no reason to leave them to continue to bleed when I am responsible for the whole nation. The country called South Sudan, I am the president, to everybody. Those who are against me, and those who support me. I am the president of South Sudan, and I must always remain in that position as the president. The leader of that country.”

From the onset of this civil war, and as things stand currently, I was/am of the opinion that Mayardit has lost legitimacy and that someone else should take over the leadership so as to finish reparation tasks, be it social, economic or political. This is purely because we have all facts and evidences that Mayardit thought of himself as president of South Sudan who “must always remain in that position” no matter what it takes to hang on. He is determined and hell bent to violate any compromise which he deems would undermined his authority even if that seem to light hopes and aspirations of the people.

I wasn’t just making a point for the sake of it but there are clear signs that if that obstacle is not removed, then we can’t settle for the desired outcome from what had already been agreed upon dating back from January 2014.  Times and times again, we have heard and seen conflicting statements and behaviors which are neither complementary to Resolution on the Conflict in South Sudan nor to its twin revitalized version of that accord. This brings into the question of honesty and transparency in the public spot light and in turn, we can only be in a better position to say at least that this crisis can’t be solved unless the man calls it quit.

Mistrust among communities has ever skyrocketed under the current regime and as such, hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and those seeking refuge in neighboring countries would hesitate going back home and participate in re-construction of their nascent state leave alone thinking about their devastated livelihoods. For centuries South Sudanese lived in harmony until such time that their unity in diversity was intentionally destroyed by regime in Juba.  More than before, the people of South Sudan need friends of good will to come to their rescue if we indeed there are concerned citizens or governments who are willing to stand with us at this difficult time of our history. Social cohesion is badly hurt especially when leaders incite communities as it was the case on December 16th 2013 when Mayardit compared 1991 attacked on the city of  Bor which was immediately taken as an excuse to carryout revenge against the Nuer people in Juba. In a statement by United States Department of state, the government there affirms its position that “The United States stands with the people of South Sudan in their pursuit of peace and will work in partnership with the region to support efforts to achieve peace and a successful political transition in South Sudan,” the statement further said which was published by Nyamilepedia on November 25th 2019.

What of 100 days?

Realistically, it is hard to believe what would be achieved in 100 days as opposed to 8 Months and then 6 Months of the past which had not witness significant progress on critical tasks in regard to security arrangement and the issues of the number of states. In fact, it is interest of the current regime in Juba and other regional capitals to form transitional government even when the status of states was not determined. Surely, the issue of states shouldn’t be a problem had there been political will. But Mayardit insistence on 32 states though his administration couldn’t afford basic salaries to state officials is just a political ploy to continue drumming up support from certain section among communities. If eight Months Pre Transitional period could pass and if an added six Months made it without major achievements, how can we change course now in just 100 days? This is another time to be wasted as usual.

Disturbingly, just after few days, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni single handily embarked on overseeing re-unification process of South Sudan armed forces by appointing one of his top Military General for that purpose. Considering the fact that he directly participated in the war particularly in Jonglei state, Museveni is trying his last kick to sideline other IGAD countries so as to score the last goal for his friend. Seriously, there is no much tricks in this because experience dealing with Museveni dictates that more of a good thing is not necessarily good. In my humble opinion, we should look for other credible alternatives as opposed to this cheap one for we will be better off calling spade a spade.

Why IGAD reverse gears

In silent endorsement to Juba narrative that December 13, 2013 civil war was “an attempted coup,” this regional body had detained Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon for two years in South Africa and he is currently under house arrest in Khartoum, Sudan as if that would solved this crisis. This approach didn’t do a thing, rather it exposed to full extent an IGAD conspiracy against Machar. Since this ill-calculated decision didn’t and isn’t helping at all, then it is high time that IGAD should reverse this strategy and perhaps develop a mechanism which is South Sudanese driven.  Too much conflict of interests among regional leaders exaggerated sufferings of innocent people in the country.

Another reason why a change in strategy is needed would be that for far too long, we have seen biased stand as far as mediation is concerned. To a common layperson understanding, it is obvious as it gets that IGAD has picked Mayardit side and this leads to Juba being so reluctant to implement key provisions of the peace agreement hoping that with time wasted, may be these rebels will surrender one by one.  At this stage, IGAD has last shots to try but if that pre-determined political mindset doesn’t get fresh air, then I am afraid that South Sudan would not escape being placed under United Nations Trusteeship for ten years or more in 2020. This episode requires clean hearts and mind because failure to do so, will be our collective fiasco as a region.

The third reason why IGAD countries should be mindful about is that continued instability in South Sudan will not only stop there. This scenario could be reciprocated in other countries which would have immense impact on the regional politics, economic and social fabrics among others beside current manageable situations.

In conclusion, IGAD should looks for new blood of leadership even if that would mean being imposed.  Before my old friends bombard me with questions about my call for a new blood, I would make it loud and clear that I don’t mean age group. Rather, anyone whose records are not tainted is who I considered new blood. As to Machar case, I believe he should be given a chance though he has failed miserably selling his carrots politically. In fact, if there is any democrat in South Sudan, he is that one but the saying that “you can’t judge a tree by its bark” is what seems to affect his bid for presidency. People from other side of the coin were having rough rides believing what would happen to them if Machar climbed to the top.

Now that the international community has full knowledge of what had transpired and that they are tired as well, they should help in finding solution instead of UN takeover as a last resort. This is not what South Sudanese anticipate. If the two principals couldn’t cut it, why not try a new blood? This individual would be given a mandate to re-unite warring factions with the help and assistant from regional leaders. She or he could be provided with protection forces be it regional or international whatever the case and should any camp plays rat and cat games, then that should be dealt with using all the tools and means readily available at our disposals.  This imposed human suffering must stop in 2020.

David Bang Teny is a concerned citizen and can be reached via: bteny880@gmail.com

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