With the hopeful anticipation of the New Year, beginning with Christmas Eve of December 2017, many good things happened. The peace talks and negotiations, to revivify the August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, ARCSS, which was violently interrupted by a renewed fighting between forces of violence, led by Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Government’s troops, on 8 July 2016 in Juba One (JI). The ARCSS almost collapsed. But, nevertheless, it was marginally saved by two warring parties, SPLM and SPLM IO, led by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Taban Deng Gai respectively.
On 22-24 December, the South Sudanese warring parties (so-called), signed the cessation of hostilities. This Christmas gift by the warring parties motivated the South Sudanese and the world at large, to conduct prayers and celebrations, pleading for a peaceful new year; “the main expectation of 2018.” This good token of peace culminated into “the Holy Declaration” by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, directing the World Christianity to pray for peace for South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, on 23 February 2018. The Christians World effectively prayed together in their billion on that day. But, unfortunately, the devil, inform human, continues to induce “jeopardizing factors” in order to distort and divert the gathering “momentous peace process.”
The jeopardizing factors seem to be emerging by way of mediating international community and South Sudanese opposition groups. Specifically, the USA (a member of Troika) and a group of nine or eleven parties, are effectively invading the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, IGAD’s High- Level Revitalization Forum, HLRF, in Addis Ababa, with new ideas, irrelevant to the agreed revitalization agenda. These new positions from the USA and the new opposition parties may derail or delay peaceful resolution of the conflict in the coming third round, scheduled towards the end of April 2018.
First, the United Nations peacekeeping forces (17,000 strong men and women) plus the international humanitarian agencies, are not in harmony with the population and the government, in terms of civilian protection or humanitarian servicing support. Second, the USA series of individual sanctions against senior government officials, the arms embargo, and economic sanctions hurt the peace process and the civil population, holding the whole country hostage in all fields of livelihoods. Thus exposing the USA government to two facets of one coin, peace on one side and change of the regime in South Sudan on the other side. This double standards of USA is not promoting the peaceful resolution to end war and suffering of the people, adding more fuel to the already burning country.
The third jeopardising factors, are the opposition groups of forty or fifty political parties that are being officially invited to the HLRF in Addis Ababa, claiming a stand against the Transitional Government of National Unity, TGoNU, and at the same time, promoting an unwarranted hatred against the Dinka Community, citing Dinka domination of affairs in the country. In spite of sincere explanations from the Jieng Community of Elders, JCE, that the Dinka Community should not be lured into the SPLM self-power-struggle and self-destructive war, the deliberate disinformation continues deliberately.
These parties are not the really warring parties, to be exact. The really warring parties are three in my opinion. They are the SPLM, SPLM IO and the middle, confused and wavering SPLM leaders (former 10 detainees). The rest splintered from the SPLM and SPLM IO, only within 2013-2018. The IGAD should take on the SPLM versus SPLM IO in this revitalization process because the ARCSS was driven mainly from their position papers. While the IGAD condones the FDS, the rest of so-called warring parties should be discarded in order to determine the success of the HLRF and conclusive peace deal. But this should not be taken as the means to an end and final peace. The overall national dialogue and social reconciliation of the South Sudanese nationalities and communities are strongly and effectively operative inside the country.
The ARCSS revitalization, in my opinion, is the beginning of a lasting peace, solidification of the national diversities in their shared values of “Christianity and unity in diversities” within the proposed federal system of governance, a tested political philosophy in generations. This means that the people of South Sudan should make their constitution through free consensus and approval in a national referendum by free vote; and not by use of force of arms and dictatorship. The National Dialogue and Reconciliation, therefore, remain the national resource and final body for all the South Sudanese to resolve their differences.
The IGAD along with the UN, AU and Troika (the USA, UK and Norway) support, could only make peace a possibility by settling the power-struggle between President Salva and former vice president, Riek and other SPLMs leaders in South Sudan, if and only if they engage the SPLM and SPLM IO/SPLM FDs in good faith in the HLRF to finally revivify the ARCSS in complementary with the National Dialogue and conciliation. Contrary to this process, HLRF is destined to fail.
– By Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey