By Tor Madira Machier,
August 11, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– Foreign ministers of the IGAD countries let by the Ethiopian foreign minister Dr Workneh Gebeyhu, met, last month, in the South Sudan’s capital Juba to address issues concerning but not limited to the implementation of the South Sudan’s peace deal which was signed in August 2015.
Dubbed as “peace revitalization” summit, the high-level diplomatic gathering was meant to inbue, with the current reality, the peace road map known as the ‘Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South South’, or ARCISS in short, which was signed two years ago by Riek Machar and Salva Kiir, on behalf of the South Sudan’s rebel SPLM-IO and the SPLM-iG-led government of the Republic of South Sudan respectively.
While in the young nation’s capital, the foreign ministers said that they “reasure the president and his government that the IGAD is not for the renegotiation of the agreement” adding that their “position on Riek Machar remain unchanged”.
As the statement may mean, for the government of General Salva Kiir in Juba, that the regional body, the IGAD, is convinced that working with SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar will not achieve peace in South Sudan, it means, in reality, that without the participation of the Rebel leader in the peace process, there is no viable path to ending the country’s bloody civil war which has already killed thousands and displaced millions to the neighboring countries.
Since it took helm to mediate a peace process between the waring parties of South Sudan, the regional community, represented by the IGAD, has never been successful given the political and economic interests some of the IGAD member states have in South Sudan. Personal interests among the regional leaders have weakened the “African Solution for African problems” approach.
When the ARCISS was signed two years ago under the auspices of the IGAD, it was meant to end the war and with the return of the rebel leader, Riek Machar, to Juba in April 2016, South Sudanese, the regional and the international community were rendered hopeful that the return signifies the end of the war. With Kiir’s peace partner, Riek Machar, fleeing Juba once again in July 2016, roughly two months after the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity provided for in the ARCISS, South Sudanese now hope less about end of the war in the near future.
Throughout the two years of peace mediation, IGAD’s position has been, in theory, zero tolerance towards those obstructing and undermining the regional efforts for peace in South Sudan, but in reality, this stance has so far suffered setbacks owing to lack of williness in translating it into actions which could compel the warring parties, the government to be specific, to adhere to the pledge they promised to keep.
The second outbreak of the civil war in July 2016 and the subsequent departure of Riek Machar from Juba which instigated the collapse of the Unity Government have demolished the African continent’s “African Solutions for African Problems” mechanism.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit whose government has been responsible for gross violations of the peace agreement has never faced any action above hundreds of condemnations uttered by the very regional body threatening to use the said solutions for African problems. Other language the IGAD has been pursuing and which doubts it’s transparency as a mediator is blaming “both sides” when particularly disappointed by violations committed, for the most part, by the government.
Kiir’s notion of having “good working relationship” with General Taban Deng, which he is able to sell to the IGAD via colleagues in the region, rather than the peace partner Riek Machar, has so far failed to produce any positive results rather than the intensification of war, yet despite being aware of this notion’s failure, the IGAD pretends to be uninformed about why the war continue in the young nation.
I hope the intensification of war, which has rendered millions of South Sudanese destitutes, has never been in the best interest of the IGAD and the Juba based government of the Jieng Council of Elders, however, it is now the reality and the solution will come when the regional body accept that sustainable peace will be achieved in a comprehensive, faithful and in a bipartisan manner in which President Kiir accept to share a peace process with his rivals especially Riek Machar and not with a person lacking support and who have nothing to do with the command of the SPLA faction fighting the regime in Juba. In doing so, the IGAD and the African continent MUST relinguish mediating between the two parties and hand over the process to Western Powers to rush in for a productive, fresh and credible mechanism that, I think, should be ‘Western solutions for African problems’ rather than depending on a mechanism mostly based on false pride of Africanism called “African Solutions for African Problems”.
Tor Madira Machier is a South Sudanese columnist living in Cairo, Egypt. His blog is tormachier.blogspot.com and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org