Is revitalization of peace in South Sudan credible?
Countries are created in line with international treaties and norms, and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is the deciding factor for any organized society that wants to become a nation. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) — the supposedly problem-solving East African regional bloc whose vision statement asserts that it is the premier league for achieving peace, prosperity and regional integration in the East African region—surprisingly contributed to the collapse of the August 2015 peace agreement by knowingly supporting Uganda’s strategy to keep Juba’s atrocious regime in power. The rationale behind its seemingly absurd decision is yet to be determined. There is no doubt in my mind that the revitalization of the 2015 agreement is the only plausible way to save South Sudan from complete disintegration. One can only hope that IGAD will be impartial in the revitalization process and restore its tainted credibility.
It is a known fact that South Sudan’s peace was hijacked in July 2016 by the current First Vice President (FVP) Taban Deng Gai and President Salva Kiir in an attempt to silence the armed opposition under the leadership of Dr Riek Machar. The move came a few months after Taban was denied the position of petroleum minister by Machar. It was clear at the time that peace was destroyed by Taban and Kiir. But what I find even more surprising is the fact that IGAD, African Union (AU), Troika countries (the United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom), and the United Nations shamelessly endorsed Kiir’s carefully calculated decision to replace Dr Machar with Taban. There were also wild claims soon after Taban assumed the position of FVP that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) would crumble and that the new FVP would take full control of the movement. It was a pure fantasy and disgraceful mistake. The war continues to this day and the violence only increases.
Reasonable South Sudanese know that the current FVP was motivated by political greed. Taban is known for his raging temper whenever he is not appointed to a senior governmental position, and only likes lucrative positions susceptible to corruption. Taban is not a leader; he is a political mad man who does not like anyone who questions his rather avaricious leadership style.
Will the East African regional bloc maintain impartiality in the peace process? Are South Sudan’s main rival leaders ready for the full implementation of a now-defunct August 2015 power-sharing pact? Will the revitalization of peace work? What can be done to make sure the agreement is implemented? Is there a plan B to restore peace in South Sudan in case the revitalization process fails? Will peace give birth to a second Juba one (J1) fighting like what had happened in July 2016, assuming the warring parties agree to its implementation?
These questions are not simple, but are vital to the revitalization of peace and deserve thoughtful answers. The South Sudanese are tired of Kiir’s self-made war. If IGAD and the international community want real peace in South Sudan, then they should first answer the above questions. Answering these questions reasonably could help the community of nations force the two warring factions to implement the agreement.
For peace to return to South Sudan, IGAD, AU, Troika, UN, and other key players must avoid the repetition of previous mistakes. The people of South Sudan are not interested in blaming both side strategy — an empty strategy that was once used by former United States President Barack Obama. Obama’s seemingly tough-talk policy only contributed to the July 2016 collapse of the agreement. If South Sudanese leaders failed to implement peace, then it is equally important to note that IGAD and the international community also failed to enforce their mandates. All key global peace partners must find a sensible solution to bring an end to suffering for the people of South Sudan. If the revitalization of peace and its implementation are not credible and impartial, then the peace will collapse again. I am certain of one thing: The SPLM/A-IO wants peace while Juba’s oppressive regime still prefers killing, raping, kidnapping, and destruction. The atrocious regime in Juba has spilled enough blood. The South Sudanese are tired of this civil war — this more than four-year armed conflict is now a political, economic, and social tragedy. This war must come to an end.
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