By Wicmon Joseph Geng Chan
May 1st 2018 (Nyamilepedia) – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is a Regional Economic Community (REC) in Eastern Africa and one of the eight building blocks of the African Economic (AEC) of the African Union (AU). IGAD was launched during the 5th IGAD Summit held in Djibouti on 25-26 November 1996, replacing the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) founded in 1986 by Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Eritrea and South Sudan joined IGAD in 1993 and 2011as the seventh and eighth Member States, respectively.
The original mandate of “IGADD” was to mitigate the effects of the recurrent droughts and other natural disasters that afflicted the region with famine, ecological degradation and widespread social and economic hardships. With new emerging political and socio-economic challenges in the region, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, meeting in Addis Ababa in April 1995, resolved to revitalize IGADD and expand areas of cooperation among the Member States under IGAD in three priority areas of (a) food security and environmental protection; (b) economic cooperation, regional integration and social development; and (c) peace, security and humanitarian affairs.
In a bit of implementing peace, security and humanitarian affairs in the region, IGAD has been marred by conflict of interests among its members which totally averted its effort to bring peace in the region as it is the case in Somalia and South Sudan.
To focus more importantly on South Sudan in particular, IGAD has been midwifing the complicated South Sudan peace agreement with a little breakthrough, due to the fact that IGAD members have dissimilar interests in resolving South Sudan’s conflict. This has been sponsored by lack of nationalism from South Sudan leaders where they have divided themselves into multiple factions with different ideologies.
Admittedly, on January 30, 2018 on Sudan tribune, Adama Dieng, UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide has accused Uganda and Kenya of allegedly helping prolong the civil war in South Sudan by aiding arms transfers into war-torn nation. In my own opinion, this accusation by UN Official might not be just a mere muff rather than verity of its kind. For instance, in avoidance of doubt, shortly after the war broke out between body guards of the duo rivals in Juba, the Capital City of South Sudan, Uganda’s President Museveni sent troops and aircrafts over its northern border to assist the South Sudan’s President Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit in fighting the armed forces of Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition. This had attracted enormous warnings from regional and international entities that the Uganda’s military intervention in South Sudan’s internal affairs could possibly escalate into regional conflict.
However, on the cause of this endless fighting, South Sudanese have continuously been bitterly suffering from hunger, insecurity, loss of lives and other forms of sufferings with regional leaders, who have been negotiating the peace agreement, put less attention to these sufferings rather persistently pursuing their selfish interests in South Sudan. This proofs to the world that, IGAD as a mediator will never bring peace to South Sudan contrary to the Article 7 (g) of the Agreement Establishing the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) that states that IGAD shall Promote peace and stability in the sub-region and create mechanisms within the sub-region for the prevention, management and resolution of inter and intra-State conflicts through dialogue.
In this context of conflict of interests from the IGAD members, the world is still flummoxing of the IGAD’s position and has been endlessly funding the mediators and negotiators that they would bring peace to war-torn South Sudan. Mind you, the IGAD proved itself as toothless bold dog in the region. To highlight their varying interests in the Republic of South Sudan, one must ask very many questions but to truncate it to the extent that underline their malign interests, the question that the prudent man and woman could ask is that, what are those interests that impedes IGAD members to stand firm and comply with aims and objectives of the IGAD to bring peace to South Sudan? Or what has been compromising their stand in negotiating with good faith the peace agreement of South Sudan?
The answer to the above question has been mentioned and explained by different institutional analysts hence, left me to agree with them at this very situation where attainment of peace in South Sudan is unpredictable.
Under the current leadership of President Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit, Kenyans have been investing in banking, insurance, aviation, construction, hospitality, information and communication technologies, transportation and wholesale and retail trade. In this regard, Kenya fear that if they don’t play their role in favors of the current leadership of South Sudan, these investments would be cut off by South Sudan government thus would lead to loss of employment opportunities and economic retardation in the Kenya’s economy.
Secondly, Kenya has also sought to offer Juba an alternative route for its oil exports. This if succeeded would lead to construction of roads, railways and pipelines that would feed a giant new port at Lamu on the Indian Ocean ambitious project that will also involve Ethiopia and Uganda and whose feasibility depends partly on stability in South Sudan under current leadership of president Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit according to Paul Odhiambo and Augustus Muluvi of the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis.
Uganda quickly became a critical trading partner of independent South Sudan, exporting goods from coffee and shoes to vehicles and steel worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Moreover, thousands of Ugandans have taken up residence in South Sudan, attracted by the opportunities of an economy rebounding from years of war.
Uganda was a key backer of the SPLA in its long armed struggle against the government of Sudan. Khartoum in turn backed several proxy forces against the SPLA and Uganda, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a notorious militant group of Ugandan origin.
In the current conflict, Kampala has expressed concern that the LRA, which has more recently operated in neighboring Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo, could regroup in a lawless South Sudan.
Uganda needed to “close a security vacuum which was being created by the crisis, and had the potential to facilitate LRA activities, and infiltrating back to Uganda. This was involuntarily admitted by Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kuteesa.
According to Safwat Fanous, a professor of political sciences at Khartoum University, Khartoum had supported Kiir in the hope that he could re-establish a strong government able to control the border as well as keep the oil flowing.
Khartoum has abiding concerns about the porosity of its southern frontier. Sudan is battling multiple insurgencies on its side of the frontier, including in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. Rebel groups there have long-standing ties to the leaders of the SPLM as well as to Uganda.
Khartoum, which backed Machar in earlier power struggles within the SPLM, could also “reconsider its alliances” if those other rebel groups strengthened their reported deployment alongside Kiir’s forces.
Donald Booth, the US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, told American lawmakers on 26 February 2014 that Sudan had been playing a “constructive role” in the crisis.
“However, he said they are concerned about the potential for Sudan’s involvement, especially given their interest in South Sudan’s oil fields,” Booth went further that ”Greater involvement by Sudan could cause friction with other regional actors as well as opposing sides in South Sudan.”
The prospect of intensified proxy conflict between Uganda and Sudan has added urgency to the regional diplomatic efforts.
While Ethiopia’s economic interests in South Sudan are less pronounced than those of Uganda and Kenya, analysts say it too has security and strategic interests best served by a quick end to the fighting.
Fanous analyzed that “Ethiopia doesn’t want to see chaos in South Sudan. “It has enough problems with a failed state in Somalia on its eastern border. It doesn’t want another one to the west.”
But to make matter worse, much of the population of Ethiopia’s western border region of Gambella shares the same Nuer ethnicity as many of the supporters of Machar, raising the possibility that some Ethiopians might wish to provide support or shelter to South Sudanese rebels, or even join their fight.
There has also been speculation that Eritrea, which broke away from Ethiopia in 1991 after decades of armed struggle and later fought a bloody border war with its bigger southern neighbour, could be tempted to arm Machar’s rebels.
John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, a US-based group campaigning for an end to genocide, mentioned that “allegations were increasing that both Eritrea and Sudan are covertly providing support to the South Sudanese opposition forces, though firm evidence has yet to emerge.
Based on the above mentioned different analysis made by different analysts or researchers about the regional divergent interests in South Sudan, one could easily conclude that the IGAD members are surrounded by mistrust among themselves when it comes to decision making in managing South Sudan’s conflict.
As a result, it would be very difficult for peace to materialize under the auspice of the IGAD unless the South Sudanese leaders would re-think of for the common good of their people they had fought for their freedom and dignity for 21 years or alternatively, if the world would make paradigm shift by transferring the matter to African Union for further management of this destructive conflict.
Time has come to recall our dark days during the struggle; reason of taken up arms against oppressors (Sudan’s government); vision we wanted our South Sudan and its people to be and not after survived multiple fronts during struggle, how much we can save for our own families’ survival as quoted by Martin Luther King that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.
Wicmon Joseph Geng Chan is law graduate and can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org
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