Kenya’s Raila Odinga’s delicate task in mediating S. Sudanese rivals

BY: DENG Vanag, Secretary for Information, Public Relations and Spokesperson for Federal Democratic Party/South Sudan Armed Forces, FDP/SSAF. JUN/10/2018, SSN;

South Sudanese public, having been divided over the questionable role of the mediating party and subsequent mistrust the division has caused, the regional bloc IGAD that is the mediating party has evidently lost the confidence it needs to bring about meaningful peace deal to the war-torn country.

Principal cause of mistrust in the IGAD mediation is Western-backed Uganda and Kenya which previously took a militant stand favoring Kiir’s regime, while other member states recoiled under their sweeping influence.

The unwarranted influence led to IGAD’s premeditated and self-inflicted failure that resultantly ropes Raila Odinga into near impossible task to bring down the Jericho-like walls of mistrust setting the belligerent factions apart.

The herculean task eminently awaiting is without denying former Honorable Prime Minister’s natural gift of tact, optimism and patience forming the bane of any successful diplomacy.

Coupled with the need to juggle his known crashing hammer in Kenyan political scene with tender kid gloves and bulldozing ‘’Tinga’’ or tractor with caring hand hoe in his delicate new diplomatic venture.

While hardened determination to prove his worth shall serve to inject some spectacles into his twilight Presidential ambition and desired statesmanship at home and abroad respectively.

Success which will on the other hand magnify failure of IGAD whose peace efforts to end the war are at all times blighted by an obvious covert operation to prob up an ally in Kiir, lest his fall could cause contagious effects to his kind in the neighborhood.

This doesn’t however mean Raila’s new role as peace envoy is safe from what may be thorns thrown in his way as he marches to face off an evidently daunting task.

For once, Raila himself is not in the good books of the regional control freak, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni who always sees the former’s success as a potent threat to scuttle his own regional ambition.

Much as in the light of traditional diplomacy, neighbors are not the best mediators in the next-door squabble, despite knowing its internal political intricacies more than the far-off onlookers, due to its spills-over that divide them alongside warring factions.

Which makes the mediator to enter the bruising blame game with heavily laden baggage of preconceived line of thought to resolve the crisis.

With him {Raila} already being dubbed in both Kenya and South Sudan as yet another Riek Machar, Salva Kiir’s main rival, a remark which may be taken as sheer joke and allegation, but not completely out of context per se.

While Kiir is not fond of dealing with negotiations since they began in early 2014 with an open mind, but under more enduring influence of close minded tribal elite in the name of Jieng Council of Elders.

Without taking heed of crumbling economy as the result of devastating civil war that displaced half of the population from traditional habitat and another half being fed on an international goodwill.

All at the behest of hundreds of thousands the war has claimed and maimed with far reaching ethnic divisions to last beyond the leadership’s lifespan of the incumbent and that of his future immediate successors to reconcile.

While unlike Kiir, Machar is his own man except being more vulnerable in the negotiation given his incarceration whom Raila can easily move from his preconceived stand for Kiir to exploit to his own advantage.

Something not to be taken lightly by the former’s handlers still haunted by past experience of defaulted deals to the latter’s advantage of continuous state power stranglehold.

Whereas Odinga shall be hard pressed, as matter of necessity, to introduce real inclusivity into the process, previous efforts had been lacking and have led to their catastrophic failures.

That is by stepping out along the way to embrace all warring factions, including SSOA of which PDF is the constituent member than remaining decked in the closet by mediating just Kiir and Machar, as if they were the country and the country is them, both actors and observers alike have been wrongly hoodwinked to believe.

Known to be an independent minded persona when acting in personal capacity, however, the mission on which he Raila finds himself is a delegated authority by the Kenyan state that may be fraught with red lines to toe.

Moreover, the state he represents already stands accused of incidents favoring one side of conflict that saw three rebel members, namely James Gatdet, Dong Luak and Aggrey Idri, being deported to an enemy regime in handcuffs, with last two whereabouts still remaining unknown.

A position which is currently and fortunately on the minds of revitalization as Dr. Ababu Namwamba, Foreign Affairs Administrative Secretary has been quoted as saying in some sections of the Kenyan press, quoted accordingly:
‘’We are not talking about abstracts here. We are talking about human lives.
As the party to this negotiation, you cannot walk away with hundred percent wish list.’’

Deng Vanang;
Secretary for Information, Public Relations and Spokesperson for Federal Democratic Party/South Sudan Armed Forces, FDP/SSAF. He is cordially reachable at: dvanang@gmail.com

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