By Bang Teny Wang,
August 17, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan peace talks currently taking place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa raises hope for a quick political settlement to this national crisis. While we expect regional leaders to act as neutral body to facilitate negotiations professionally, the opposite is unfolding. The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is threatening to target sanctions on individuals considered to be obstructing efforts in finding lasting peace.
This is not what we know as mediation for it comes with it big sticks and no carrots. The rationale behind mediators move could help sooths psychological wounds inflicted on millions of South Sudanese. However, IGAD, seems to have struggled within its rank which is why, they are condoning Ugandan troops and various North Sudanese rebels presence even after the January 23rd, 2013 Agreements on Cessation of Hostilities and Question of Detainees in Addis Ababa which called for these foreign forces to withdraw from South Sudan. To everyone knowledge, these foreign forces are still fuelling the conflict. If agreements cannot be honored, why then waste resources in hotels? What differences would it make to continuously look for fault-findings instead of solutions? As a reader, you are the judge.
IGAD had asked both parties to the conflict to come together and resolve their political differences on the table in early January 2013. It was the News that the world wanted to hear and that request was granted only to be surprised that the regional body slowly over-stepped its mediation role.
There are several nations who are going through conflicts but threat of sanctions had never been applied as forcefully as it is in South Sudan case. IGAD and its world partners know very well that there are many in this part of the world who are either indicted by International Criminal Courts or sanctioned based on their alleged war crimes against humanity but have not changed anything on the grounds in regard to maintaining regional security. There should be a swift shift of strategy on how South Sudan conflict is handled otherwise, there are disturbing signs that South Sudan will not get anything tangible out of the ongoing mediation process in Ethiopia. Interest of conflicts within the leadership of IGAD, lack of political will, rigidity, use of South Sudan Television to promote tribal agenda of the government in Juba, and/or hanging on to the presidency top the list of challenges on the negotiation table.
South Sudanese do not need cluster bombs falling on their heads again. Hence; our brothers and sisters mediating this conflict should not allow Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni twisting the spirit of negotiation in favor of his counterpart, Salva Kiir Mayardit. For your mediation to yield peaceful fruits, you must be neutral and considerate of the root causes of this war first thing first. It is also worth mentioning that the president of South Sudan would cry fool as he tried to back-track on the “Agreement To Resolve South Sudan Crisis” he and his opponent signed on May 9th, 2014. So, watch your backs.
It was widely circulated that sixty days were agreed upon for a transitional government to be formed however, the deadline had elapsed because the parties to the conflict did not see ownership of that proposal. Yes, we want peace but it shouldn’t be rushed into. In case that the IGAD negotiators failed to make heads way through, I would suggest that they look higher to another authority to take over from them. Imposing sanctions on military commanders leaving the culprit doing business as usual in Juba certified failures to say the least. We should learn not to impose our wills on others or else we are repeating what was tried in Iraq, Zimbabwe, or Libya just to mention a few. For a viable peace to prevail, IGAD mediators should:
1) ask Uganda and the government of South Sudan to immediately facilitate withdrawal of Ugandan Peoples’ Defence Forces and Various invited North Sudanese rebels from South Sudan.
2) isolate conflict of interests
3) address the root cause of the conflict
4) not use sanctions as a mean to achieving peace
5) help in protecting civilians
6) remain neutral in all decision-making processes
7) recognise that hundreds of thousands were murdered senselessly and hold culprits accountable
8) put a workable state restructuring programmes in place and then
9) form transitional government that does NOT include Mayardit
With that being said, I would like to thank you (IGAD mediators) in advance for standing with us when we need you most.
Bang is a leading member of the SPLM in Opposition on Social Media. Reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.