Signing an agreement is one thing. Fulfilling its requirements is another. The signing of an agreement between two Nemeses in South Sudan recently is a breakthrough shall the duo abide by the agreement. South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Dr Riak Machar, leader of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army recently signed an agreement to cease fire and work to heal Africa’s youngest nation. This is the second time the two have appended their signatures to salvage and heal their bleeding and cascading country after starting war on 15 December, 2013 after Mayardit fired Machar.
Is the agreement comprehensive or just lip service? Will the two principals live up to their words this time around? Have they learnt that there won’t be any a-winner takes-it-all results in this self-destruction resulting from power hunger and lack of understanding? Have they seen the light after understanding that in this tribal- based rancor, there won’t be one tribe that’ll take it all? All those and other questions need to be answered by the duo’s actions.
Peace and stability in South Sudan and the whole region is achievable and desirable. Without stable peace, South Sudan and the whole region will suffer badly given that they all depend on each other. Since the war erupted, hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced. Hunger is looming after the war prevented people from cultivating their farms.
According to Aimee Ansari, Director of Care International in South Sudan, “There is still time to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, but the best solution is for all parties to permanently lay down their weapons.” To lay down weapons, all those supporting the conflict in the south need to be confronted and be told to stop. They too, won’t win. Instead of allowing war to destroy the whole region, roundtable confrontation can make more sense than a military one. Why don’t people like to learn from Iraq, Libya and Syria?
Although the international community has always dealt with Mayardit and Machar, Northern Sudan needs to be watched carefully especially at this time she’s accused by the south of using Machar to try to bring South Sudan to her knees. It is clear that when South Sudan invested heavily on the south corridor through Kenya under the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET), the north wasn’t pleased. Without South’s oil being pumped through the north’s pipelines, the whole infrastructure is as good as a white elephant. Again, should this become a feeble point for embarking on wars? Why shouldn’t South Sudan develop LAPSSET as she continues using the north to transport her oil? Again, why doesn’t the north want to face the fact that business is about choices depending on profits and relationship? Doing business, among neighbours, depends more on relationship than duress or manipulation and machinations. Given that South Sudan is an independent country, she’s the right to choose whoever she wants to do business with. This is her natural choice as it is for the north that has always preferred Arab nations to African ones.
What makes South Sudan crisis headstrong is the fact that it revolves around tribal lines. Such a situation for the country that’s been at war for over two decades is precarious given that many weapons are still in the hands of former soldiers. For a country with many immobilized former soldiers, such hatred and tribal assumption makes things bad. It becomes worse once one considers how desperate north Sudan has become after parting ways with the south something that saw it lose almost all revenues she used to enjoy from oil production. Is this why Machar has always been accused of being the north’s string-puppet?
Suffice it to say, two protagonists who are the sons of South Sudan need to put their personal interests aside and redeem their nation from the fangs of selfishness and myopia. South Sudan’s suffered a lot. Enough is enough.
Source: African Executive Magazine Sept., 17, 2014.