IGAD Mediation Model is flawed: It’s time for African Union (AU) or AU/UN Hybrid Mediation to take over South Sudan Peace Process

By: Oyhath Aromi, MAR/25/2015, SSN;

Enough is enough. The South Sudanese President Kiir Mayardit and his former Vice President Dr Riek Machar were given ample opportunity by Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediators to negotiate and arrive at a compromise to bring peace to the war-battered country, but they failed that opportunity time and again – it is as if these leaders learned nothing from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was by and large a compromise deal that in 2005 brought an end to over 20 years of war between the SPLM/A and Sudan government.

IGAD mediators afforded President Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Machar every chance, including to go it face to face, yet each time they failed to agree on almost everything.

Even as IGAD walked an extra mile in order to give the warring parties extra time to find a solution, even as the mediators granted the 2 principal negotiating sides their wish to exclude other South Sudanese stakeholders, like civil society organizations and political parties, from taking part in the peace talks, they are still nowhere near a compromise way forward.

The question is for how long this unproductive stalemate is supposed to continue? Don’t these leaders realize the magnitude of trauma, destruction and desperation this crisis has inflicted on South Sudan? Don’t the leaders feel the urgent need to bring an end to this war?

As prospects for a peaceful settlement to this crisis under IGAD mediation appears painstakingly remote, it is time to try an alternative approach.

My contention here is that IGAD mediation has failed to get the warring South Sudanese parties to find a stop to this unnecessary war and that this failure has to do less with interests of some IGAD members in South Sudan and more to do with a fundamental flaw in the IGAD mediation model itself.

IGAD, as a mediation model, has failed miserably not only in its on-going efforts to bridge the gap between the South Sudanese government and the SPLM-IO forces led by Dr Riek Machar but also in its earlier attempts at CPA negotiations.

I know some people will find this view a bit controversial, but the truth remains that the CPA could never have come to light had it not been sustained, determined US pressure which in the late phase of CPA talks literally forced the SPLM/SPLA leader, late Dr John Garang, to stay stationed in Kenya while his counterpart, Vice President El-Uztaz Ali Tah shuttled back and forth between Kenya and Khartoum to obtain further authorization from President Bashier.

Do I still remember those days? Yes I do, although I was obviously nowhere close to those negotiations. So, let us refrain from pretending that IGAD mediation was a success story at CPA negotiations and want now to replicate that experience this time around.

It was not and, again, my point here is that there is something fundamentally wrong with IGAD as a mediation model.

The theory that a crisis somewhere in East, West, North or South Africa is somehow best mediated by a group of countries in that region of Africa needs to be revisited, for it has so far produced mixed results at best.

It might have been fruitful in a few cases, as in the case of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in West African region, but it has certainly not been met with success in the case of IGAD, as explained above.

There is, therefore, a danger that a region-based model of conflict mediation (at least in the African context), like the IGAD mediation model, is piecemeal, patchy, inconsistent and inherently prone to bias, not least because of obvious interests of the group of regional countries involved.

The European Union, for example, does not employ such an approach in mediating conflicts arising within the European Union or even in crises in non-EU countries within Europe. The EU is always represented as a block.

In 2000, for example, the EU moved swiftly to save former Yugoslav Republic of Serbia & Montenegro from collapsing into chaos following violent demonstrations that erupted as a result of dispute over alleged elections fraud between supporters of former President Milosevic and his political opponents.

I don’t know why a failed regional conflict mediation model such as IGAD is being insisted upon by the Troika (Norway, United Kingdom and United States). Perhaps it is an experiment being tested in Africa? Or simply a manifestation of mediation fatigue on the part of the Troika stemming from their involvement in mediation efforts in an increasing number of hot spots in other volatile parts of the world!!!

I don’t subscribe, though, to the notion that the Troika (or IGAD) is to blame for helping establish “a politically unchallenged armed power in South Sudan”, as stated in the leaked draft report of the AU’s Commission of Inquiry.

Actually, all the Troika did was help South Sudanese get what they always wanted since the start of their first liberation struggle in 1955 –independence from Sudan –through their (Troika) help in making the CPA a reality.

South Sudan is not the first country in the world to attain independence and the Troika was not supposed to baby-sit the new nation. Therefore blaming the Troika for a catastrophe created by the SPLM, and the SPLM alone, is absurd, scapegoating and utterly pointless.

The AU should instead reevaluate the IGAD mediation model and embrace a more credible mediation strategy to help find a solution to South Sudanese war.

In the search to find a practical solution to this war, the most effective mediation model seems to me to be the AU or an AU/UN hybrid arrangement now stepping in. After all, AU/UN hybrid conflict mediation is not a new concept, as it has, indeed, already been in operation in Darfur (a region of Sudan just next to South Sudan), albeit in a human rights monitoring role.

To help South Sudanese people regain trust in themselves as a nation, if this alternative model succeeds, an AU/UN hybrid mission should lead a transitional government of national unity in South Sudan, as already suggested in the leaked draft AU’s Commission of Inquiry’s Report.

In short, an AU/UN–led transitional government will, among other desirable things:
o Stop land grabbing, a time bomb capable in its own right to send South Sudan into chaos.
o Combat corruption and theft of public monies, thereby saving much-needed resources to rebuild South Sudan.
o Give South Sudanese a break in terms of security, stability and real peace and allow return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their areas and villages.
o Neutralize tribal agenda which, by the way, is the centerpiece and the real monster behind this whole thing.
o Build the foundation and set example for a sound, transparent public service and create the right environment for a leveled playing field for a vibrant private sector in the young nation.
o Transform the current suffocating political and security climate inside South Sudan to a positive hope for an inclusive future for all South Sudanese communities.
o Pave the way for establishment of a people-centered representative governance system that will realize the principle of government of the people by the people for the people.

The AU/UN-led transitional government should make it one of its core objectives to help South Sudanese vote on such a governance system which they will follow to govern themselves at the end of the transitional period.

There is a danger, despite good intentions of the AU, UN and the Troika, of South Sudan sliding back to square one if such a system is not defined before the end of the AU/UN-led transitional period.

Of course, in every conflict, such as the present South Sudanese crisis, there are the culprits.

In the interest of healing, reconciliation and unity of South Sudanese and to send a powerful message to everyone that the prevailing culture of impunity cannot and will not be tolerated, anyone found to have been responsible for the killings of innocent civilians and violations of other human rights should be made accountable for their crimes, regardless of which side of the fence they stood during this war.


  1. Alier Gai says:

    The United Nation, the African Onion, and the IGAD have no immediate solutions for the crisis in the young nation called South Sudan. They don’t know what we are fighting for and they don’t know the meaning of peace they are meditating for. Some blame world-money hunters for chaos, some blame Khartoum for war instigation, some blame East Africa for their interests to start war, some blame power struggle from the nation’s officials which brings division among them, and some blame citizens for supporting war crimes committed by tribal leaders. All of the above are in the play. The United nation is expecting African nations to bring peace; and in other hand, African Union is looking at the Igad’s direction as a bridge to stability of a neighboring country. However, Igad head boys are village graduates of the same school in which they expect policies to change for the better themselves, so long as they get loans form the world Banks for the development of their countries in the name of southern peace. Who cares, they blame Kiir today and then after that, it is Macher’s problem. Southerners are purblind to the higher degree of not seeing their self-annihilation in the name of a short live glory to their tribes. The negotiation going on, in the Horn of Africa, is for nation’s leaving will, it must be entrusted to Eastern African countries as sole beneficiaries for our resources. We shall dye of tribes. No my tribe on top, no peace in the country forever. That is the common language we are fighting this stupid war.
    Everything has been in a position of a tribal tendencies and meditators are in the line of choosing. It is very hard to know the next move one tribe will take from the current-fighting tribes, for we make rules that based on personal feelings. The meditators make rules as well and their stand depend on who lie the most on the table that day. We are the problems and at the same time, we are the solutions for our creating many problems. People have to understand their debasement upon behaviors that are exposed. The UN itself is a business organization with its interest behind war, and it will not be by surprise to see business entity stand for its profit in the end.
    We thought that earlier we formed a perfect union under our tribes to rule ourselves after the ending of oppressions from the North; but it wasn’t true that we had a perfect one and the three years temporary stay resulted into the current war crisis, created by wrong elements from us. The government of the people and by the people and for the people has turned out to be the government of the tribe, for the tribe, and by the tribe, shall perish on the earth. We, the people of South Sudan are worshiping those who thrust to power with every right of their given luck to make things happen for us, by assuming that they are everything in creation. We have no guts and courage to challenge and to change them so that they transmute from their wrongdoings into a more refined persons of a nation’s expectations. They view change as for an individualism than the group demands they don’t pay much attention to it. Hope that the warring parties return to the negotiation table for the better out come, or otherwise there is no immediate solution from outside world. We should say: enough is enough, not to they, not to them but to us making it happen. South itself should resign her abilities to bring peace to the land and to its people. Let not confuse people’s real peace with world’s real business interest.

    • Elhag Paul says:

      Dear Alier Gai
      It is really refreshing to hear you have woken up from the deep slumber. Indeed you are right we will finish ourselves if we don’t throw tribalism away. You are now just beginning to see that your blind support to a useless Jieng president is not good to everybody. Please educate the other Jieng before Kiir burns out the innocent young boys called Mathiang Anyoor, Gelweng and Duutku Beny after which he will be defeated and the Jieng benefits nothing. Wise up quick man!

  2. Lotim Koroma says:

    We have to say ‘enough is enough’ South Sudanese should be given time to find a solution to the ongoing fighting since it affect them more than any foreigner.Imported solutions to South Sudan crisis will never last.We South Sudanese must be fully involve in finding a durable solution to the ongoing political turmoil in our young nation.AU/UN joint effort may not assist this country to her expected aspirations of economic growth,political stability,peace and unity among South Sudanese people.South Sudan is a virgin land in terms of Oil deposits,Agricultural potentiality and minerals deposits which somebody somewhere may yearn to acquire and enrich himself/herself.We should stop thinking of giving our country to rule by regional/international bodies,they may not purely come to assist us develop our country but others may come to take an advantage of high illiteracy rate in the country.

  3. False Millionaire says:

    Mr Aromi,
    To be sincere I totally agree with you with your supposition of an,”AU/UN hybrid arrangement to step in”.That’s the only hope becouse as we all know,the SPLM/A members among whom are Dr Riak Machar N Salva Kiir are corrupt thugs who are only interested in power that enables them to serve their economic interests as well as those of their next of kins.Even if peace is signed today,it’s a mistake to think that we will not live through the most grave difficulties that we have already experienced under the SPLM/A misrule dating to the beginning of the CPA n throughout the age of the independence.An SPLM/A government will never assure development n social harmony among citizens.It will only hang on to power in order to steal every pond from the national coffer until the day RSS collapses to become pockets of tribal entities.At that point,the SPLM/A members will run to exile to enjoy their booties in peace.

    Speaking of the CPA,you incite a very interesting example.But it was the americans’ arm twisting games on Khartoum that forced the agreement.That could be interpreted to have been motivated by the prospects of vast economic interests in an independent south sudan.But the point of friction between the americans n Juba has been consumed long time ago as it’s China that has taken over principle economic projects like petroleum exploitaion.With the americans seeing no economic interests for them in RSS,it’s impossible to imagine the toothless organizations like AU n the IGAD to exert sufficient pressure on the waring parties in RSS to accept peace.That’s why every peace meeting under IGAD has failed to bring peace.The idea of an AU/UN hybrid arrangement is a plausible solution that will come to practical being only if the americans come on board with bulldozing attitude but never with stick n carrot.The question is will they do so to put an end to the SPLM/A misrule without being seen as declaring economic war against China?But the end can still justify the means becouse RSS n it’s society deserve to be saved no matter how!!!

  4. Francis says:

    Dear Lotim,

    You have expressed well what the true challenge is. We have to come up with our own solutions, others have to follow and if interested support us. they must not dictate to us what to do and not to do. I still wander what such people like Elhaq Paul would want this country to be. He has a problem with the tribe called jieng, this in itself will not help us go ahead. He has to shed that hatred, such attitudes have plunged our country into what it is in today. We have no single forward looking leader or intellectual who is willing to speak for South Sudan as a whole without alienating any of its 64 tribes including Nuer, Dinka, Bari…..Mundari etc.
    The solution will not come from outside South Sudan, and if it comes it will be a short lived one. We have a clear example of CPA. This agreement was not comprehensive, we have Darfur, the three areas and Abyei and the other outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan. AU/UN in Darfur is a failure, the Janjweed and the government of Sudan have been committing crimes in camps and in the areas where this big force operate but alas, they failed to report the truth. Of reccent, the case of 200 women in Thabit, the organization does not want to take the bull by the horns. That so called proposed AU/UN hybrid is a farce. The same failure is true with a UN mission in South Sudan where they have more than a hundred South Sudanese civilians in their camps.They came at first with genuine fear for their lives, alas the camp has turned into places where crimes of all sorts are committed. The criminals are kept in detention for a long time without any trial some of them have murdered people. This UN organization have devised a nice word to describe the place they keep these dangerous criminal as retention centers. Wake up people is it not the same organization that has been very vocal about prolong detention. What is it that they are doing now…? What can the Human Rights section in that organization and its other partner the rule of law say to the people in south Sudan.
    Come to your senses, those of Elhag Paul would want us to believe that they can only come riding on a white man’s car to leadership from London wake up. Come help the people in South Sudan from killing one another on simply on things that can be managed.

  5. Alier Gai says:


    I am always awake and I will never be purblind to take a lowest road against the people of South Sudan, because I hate one tribe for their political dominance. To waste no time, I am against federalism, because it should be introduced by constitution and in the constitution alone, not by a fake claimers who started this war. I am against the arms struggle, because it encourges more crimes and I don’t want it to be a cultural taboos and practices in the young nation, where these inssane lairs and mendacious criminals will be rulers. I am against immorality in which you are a master. We have to know that we are not heaven mades, we are humans on earth and sinners at the same time. Our tribes are backbone to the creation of this nation, not by immaginative reasoning of its creation. But it doesn’t mean that we are morally allowed to create many problems as we wanted to, because we are sinners. All government officials who came from various backgrounds of the many tribes of our nation are responsible for the mess we are experiencing in the country, and that it is not Dinka alone to be informed but 63 tribes to be informed and change that culture of negativity.
    Southern tribes and leaders failed the country through corruption, through failed constitutional amendments, and through this war. And now, they are looking to the outside world to help them end what they have made. It is incomperhensible to run outside seeking for a solution while the outside world wasn’t aware of how you started it. Who are the beneficiaries during this war? The resources hunters are the owners of our resources now, not us. This is where all the tribes failed to make a compromise so that their tomorrow’s survival is well secured and maintained. Because leaders from the right and from the left have no available remedies to cure the illing nation. People are divided now than ever with less of a change down the road; our leaders like it and we are of the same images, of the same bloods our leaders are made from; we like everything they do and act like them.
    You should know that, as well, your writing cult personalities contributed a lot to the current war and for the disunity of the south Sudanse. You have been unfair in your judgement to the Dinka people and whatever kills them is always your dewlling pride. You often associate your feelings with any immoral elements competing against the nation for its total ruin and you are the king of chaos next to Macher the great disaster. You support useless war with nothing to gain in the end, for you really wanted dinka being defeated once and for all. Now, you want me to tell Dinka that Paul is fully armed and he is ready to strike any time, run? is it what you are telling me that I have seen and wise up? Kiir is an elected official by the people, he is for the people, and with the people. They will tell him when his term is up to leave, not Dinka to tell him that to leave. Leave dinka-phobia out and rebalance your reasoning so that you become one of ours, or otherwise you will remain a foreign object forever. Try to differentiate your thoughts from a tribe to a nation to individual, and we will be right there with you. And for that, It would be better not to recruit me into that unknown zone of negativity of yours, for I do know my standing.

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