Snake in the Hole: The Elusive Peace in South Sudan
October 21, 2019
The parties to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) and their partners in the regional and international community are tip-toeing a delicate line these days in a last-ditch effort to save the peace agreement from collapsing. The United Nations Security Council even went out of its way by taking the unprecedented action of flying half the world across the ocean to meet the South Sudanese peace partners in Juba, South Sudan.
There are now unformed reports here and there that President Kiir might consider a return to the 10-state situation. If those reports are true, that would a significant step forward in the implementation of the peace agreement. But going back to the 10 situation is not enough. It’s not a gift from President Kiir. It’s obviously coming from the pressures piling on him from all corners. It is indeed the fruit of the work of the R-ARCSS-mandated Independent Boundary Committee (IBM) that he should accept. President Kiir’s piece meal approach to implementing the peace agreement is unacceptable. He clearly doesn’t have good will for peace. The people of South Sudan are fed up with his anti-peace and bullying attitude. The international community and the toothless IGAD need to continue to put more pressure on him to do the right thing.
The positions of the major opposition parties that signed the peace agreement toward the formation of revitalized-transitional government of national unity (R-TGNU) is crystal clear and has been made public already. Their positions are clearly consistent, in line with the peace agreement itself. These opposition are just being honest and simply intend to implement the agreement in accordance to the sequence of its provisions, particularly in relation to the requirements to settle the issues of the number of states and security arrangements during the pre-transitional period. They need to stand their ground. Because their approach and positions toward the formation of revitalized transitional government national unity are similar or the same, they can and should indeed coordinate their efforts to synergize and create a united, one-voice opposition front.
When the peace agreement was signed in September 2018, some people criticized the opposition parties that signed that agreement, calling them names like “they are just looking for positions”, some even baselessly accused them of abandoning the suffering South Sudanese masses. The current decisions, positions and behavior of the main opposition parties and their leaders, namely SSOA and SPLM-IO, toward the formation of R-TGNU are a prove that those folks that criticized them are squarely wrong and misguided.
We should not forget the deadly betrayal that President Kiir orchestrated in July 2016 after the opposition, in an effort to show good will and to give peace a chance, carved in to IGAD and “international community” pressure to form a transitional government of national with the SPLM-IG. They literally intimidated, threatened and blackmailed the opposition to enter the government of national unity with the SPLM-IG while doing nothing to persuade the latter to do its part of the deal even when it was clear crucial steps in implementation of the peace process like security arrangements and de-militarization of Juba were not in place because of SPLM-IG’s unwillingness to implement them. But the same IGAD and ithe “international community” were nowhere to be seen when the bloodshed happened and the country returned to war on an even larger scale. IGAD and the “international community” therefore do not have moral grounds now to push the opposition into the same grave situation. We want peace and we want our people to return to life in peace, to return to their areas and homes and to enjoy peace and stability. But everyone needs to observe the R-ARCSS and to do their part of the deal, including implementing the critical pre-transitional steps that they all signed and agreed to implement. The South Sudanese peace guarantors need to come to their senses, learn something from the events of July 2016 and play their mediator role in an impartial fashion if they are really good-intentioned about the suffering South Sudanese many of whom have been forced to living in camps since 2013, whether as refugees in neighboring countries or as internally displaced within South Sudan.
Some people think they are smarter than others, trying even to blind-side the world by staging prayers in the Vatican and at the J1 in Juba that in truth they themselves don’t mean. But, as the saying goes, ‘a believer cannot be bitten twice from the same hole’.
Oyhath Aromi; can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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