Tuesday, 24 March 2015

S. Sudan conflict: IGAD go back to drawing board

          Power sharing has become another means of elucidating differences between opposing powerful politicians in Africa. However, president Salva Kiir Mayardit of S. Sudan said categorically that he's not ready to share power with his nemesis, former Vice President Dr.  Riek Machar. Mayardit was quoted as saying, "I don't agree with the suggestion that Riek be given the position of vice president." He also disagreed with the idea of having two armies that was proposed by IGAD. Mayardit new move has brought a cudgel to the peace talks that has been going for 15 months since the conflict erupted in this new and young nation.   To jumpstart the talks so that they can move forward, IGAD needs to tweak its proposal so that they can be acceptable for both sides. For  those who know how power in Africa is a dangerous game will agree with us that having two armies in one country is like being to war. It is an expensive and unviable option. It can't work for the president and vice president to have independent armies under their disposal and commands in one country. It has never been tried anywhere in Africa. So if IGAD wants to help S. Sudan, it must come with applicable and practical and possible solutions.
Even sharing power itself is questionable due to the nature of the conflict in S .Sudan. Essentially, IGAD needs to peel the onions by observing hidden layers of the conflict. For, what it is seen currently is not the whole conflict but instead it is the tip of the iceberg. In conflict we have one cardinal principle that when you deal with conflict, you must expect unexpected as far as the nature and magnitude of the conflict is concerned.  IGAD should think out of the box by analyzing the conflict in South Sudan. IGAD must consider all situations from the history of S. Sudan, realpolitik and geopolitics of the day. For, instance, when IGAD proposed that the two must have two separate and independence armies, it forgot that N. Sudan would seize this opportunity to arm one against another. In this conflict it is obvious and clear who would be armed is known. By doing so, S. Sudan would embark on arms race between president and his superimposed vice president. All over the world army is an integral party of the executive. It must be owned whole and totally by president who is commander- In-Chief. There is no way there can be C-I-C in one country. It has nary been experimented.
Another important factor IGAD needs to underscore is the fact that Government of Nation Unity (GNU) is not a magic bullet that can fix all problems.
If I were to be consulted as an academic and professional in the field, I would recommend that there must be ceasefire first. Secondly, I'd argue that UN peacebuilding mission be sent to S. Sudan to see to it that the already secured volatile peace does not evaporates. The presence of Green Berets may change the whole situation apart from being able to contain the conflict so that it can be easily managed. Mayardit is dead right for refusing to allow another army in his country or sharing power. Having two armies will exacerbate the conflict wantonly.  Apart from undermining the power and the office of the president, having two armies will create more mistrust and muscles flexing depending who has what it take. Such a move will be well utilized by spoilers in the region to see to it that S. Sudan ends up becoming either failed state or pariah so that they can exploit this opportunity to foster their interests. Remember. S. Sudan has black gold that can easily allure even those you don’t expect to be in the big picture.
Although the conflict in S. Sudan is treated as a political one, it is about relationship. Instead of looking at what the duo wants, one needs to know the history of their relationship so that one can gauge the vulnerability one can cause to another due to knowing his secrets. IGAD needs to know how much these bedfellows offered to each other. This helps in assessing the dangers, possibilities and impossibilities of resolving, managing or transforming constructively so that Sudan can forge ahead peacefully and constructively.
In sum, IGAD should avoid a quick shot based on securing a signed agreement. Instead, it must allow what John-Paul Lederach, who is a renowned among Peace and Conflict Scholars calls going “sideways” to find solution out of the prescribed template that it wants to use in Sudan. Also, Mayardit and Machar must be told that violence does not take them everywhere other than to more destruction something that can attract regional powers to stop the war at the detriment of Sudan. Regional powers won’t allow the conflict in Juba curtail their peace and development.
Source: African Executive Magazine
March 25, 2015.

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