The East African Block: Dilemma of Peaceful Resolution For South Sudan Conflict.

By Gak Deng Woul,


The Leaders of the compromised regional bloc, IGAD, IGAD summit heads of states and governments, deliberating on South Sudan conflict(Photo: IGAD)
The Leaders of the compromised regional bloc, IGAD, IGAD summit heads of states and governments, deliberating on South Sudan conflict(Photo: IGAD)

June 17, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Since the war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, the East African block known as IGAD has been mediating the conflict but with a minimum significance in relation to resolving the crisis. The current proposed power sharing ratio with regard to the Government of National Unity that gives the regime 53%, the Armed Opposition 33% and 14% to former political detainees and other political parties seems to be unwelcomed by the main warring parties. The SPLM-IO, according to the new proposed deal will be sharing 53%, the government 33% and 14% for the former political detainees and other political parties in the Greater Upper Nile Region which composed mainly of three states, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity State.

The government objects to the proposal that gives the opposition more powers in the Greater Upper Nile Region. However, on the opposition side, restricting their share in the Upper Nile does not contribute enormously to resolving the conflict given their justification that the war is not only in Upper Nile Region but the entire South Sudan. The status of the armies remains an immense dilemma, while the government is yearning to be in full control of the armies, the opposition discards the proposal on the basis that the government was the main causative of the problem and therefore could not be rewarded again. Preservation of the same powers by the government is perceived by the armed opposition as a continuous abuse of legitimacy and mandate bestowed upon it by the people.

The Cessation of Hostilities signed in February 2014 was futile to halt insurgencies on both sides. While the government campaigns militarily to control more territory to strengthen its position at peace talks, the opposition is also vying to maintain its position in the negotiations.

Hence, IGAD is left with no any other option if the expected next round of peace talks by the end of June fails to convey glimpse of hope. Both sides will continue fighting to achieve a military settlement. However, the option of war is costly in terms of human demise and may not achieve a relative peace. IGAD projects itself as a very fragile organization driven by the interests of the member states mainly Uganda and Kenya. Uganda as a member of IGAD is effusively in support of Salva Kiir’s regime to achieve military victory against the armed opposition given the presence of its forces in Jonglei, Juba and other parts of South Sudan.

The military presence of Uganda made the conflict more complex. Instead of leading military campaign and using air force and cluster bombs against the civilians and opposition forces alike, Uganda could have used its influence in the region in a positive manner as a neutral force by seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict. This position would have given Uganda a key role to play as an effective mediator rather than being a privy to the war and hopefully preserve its potential interests in South Sudan after president Kiir’s end of tenure. The current proposal did not even clarify the status of Ugandan forces in relation to its withdrawal or being part of the newly dispensed force that will protect Juba based on the text of proposed deal.

On the other side Khartoum is purported to be supporting the armed opposition. If this claim is proven then IGAD is not a neutral organization that can mediate peace in South Sudan. It is a divided organization formed out of fragile states seeking political and economic interests rather than genuine peace brokerage. However, the new GAD plus might contribute differently compared to the previous one only if there is a genuine political will from both parties to terminate the massive suffering of the people of South Sudan. Unfortunately, there is a slight hope that this might happen in a country where the interests of individuals overweights the national interests. The SPLM-led government failed to address rudimentary needs of the people of South Sudan since its grip on power based on Naivasha Peace Agreement in 2005.

The level of corruption by the SPLM leaders was so precarious to achieving any national development that would address the basic needs of the people. Millions of dollars were stolen by SPLM leaders while the nation is starving. This poses a genuine simple question of how will the same SPLM leaders manage the affairs of the country when they have failed in the first place to achieve any developmental agenda in South Sudan? This does not only relate to the government but also to the armed opposition and the political detainees.

South Sudan needs a new political transformation that will address the dire problems of people and not self-seeking political leaders. Hence, the possibility of achieving a real peace remains ambiguous given all complexities mentioned previously in this article. The International Community demonstrates no much leverage based on the negative role of IGAD that hijacks any serious move such as the economic and military sanctions on both sides. As a result, the beneficiaries of the conflict personified in the East African Block will lose more interests in South Sudan if sanctions are implemented. Moreover, lack of political will from both parties and the tribal nature of the conflict make any efforts towards reaching a peaceful resolution more challenging to achieve. The division of South Sudanese on ethnic lines suggests more complexities to reaching a lasting solution to the conflict.

In conclusion, there is a need for the International Community to consolidate its position by playing a crucial role in addressing the current conflict. The proposed targeted individual sanctions by The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) may work if IGAD cooperates and this is because heaps of public funds in terms of assets and properties were hidden in the IGAD block. Similarly, IGAD’s role will also be required though not effective at this stage, but with the involvement of other partners such as The US, The UK, Norway, China and The African Union (AU) some success might be achieved. There is also a demand for political will in order to achieve a real peace and this will be left for South Sudanese to decide on whether they want their country to divide into lawless ethnic regions or to bring a lasting peace and a new political dispensation that will address the entire nation’s needs based on a popular constitution mandated by the people of South Sudan. There is a fear that South Sudan might get divided into small tribal regions if the conflict is prolonged and peaceful negotiations failed to attain a meaningful resolution.

*The writer is a concerned South Sudanese who can be reached at gakwol@rocketmail.com. He is a PhD candidate at Monash University Australia.

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