By Joseph Oreste Odhok, South Sudan, FEB/27/2018, SSN;
The failure of the opposition groups and the government to reach an agreement at the second round of “High Level Revitalization Forum” has dashed the hopes and yearning for peace of the downtrodden people of South Sudan.
The Kiir Government and the opposition groups seemed to be more focused on trivial matters of power-sharing and securing the ratio each group would have than concentrating efforts on addressing the root causes of the conflict.
Alas! IGAD mediation team seems to pursue the same narrow and individualistic interest agenda. For what is that proposal to create four positions of presidential aides if it is not a mockery?
It is insanity to think that by dividing power among the very people who have brought the country to where it is now would bring peace.
South Sudanese are awakening from their deep sleep and are beginning to realize that they aren’t genuinely being represented in the peace talks.
A couple of days ago, I was almost chocked to hear a women representative to the peace talks saying over the national TV that they have agreed to raise women representation quota to 35%; what an idiot! Did they go there to divide positions or to bring peace?
It appears the next round of peace talks is unlikely to reach any peace deal given the implicit intention of the government to obstruct mediators effort to conclude a just peace agreement.
This intended obstruction could be seen in the constitution of the government negotiating team to the peace talks which include some individuals who are morally bankrupt and well known for their violation of peace and disrespect to humanitarian actors.
President Kiir is deeply sunk to the neck in the blood of innocent citizens of the country and there is nothing he can do that will reparate the damage caused.
He would not venture any peace deal that enshrines in its provisions an article for “Accountability and justice” which he deems as a threat not only to his generals but also to himself.
Despite mounting pressure by the AU/UN, the Troika Countries and the unilateral punitive measures —targeted sanctions against corrupt individuals & arms embargo— imposed by the US on the warring parties to make peace, President Kiir stubbornly continues to defy the call for a genuine and sustainable peace deal.
He wants the peace that is dictated on his terms or else he would impose it militarily. He wants mediators out of the peace process.
And as long as he continues to get support from some unscrupulous leaders of the regional bloc (IGAD) and also from the Northern Africa State which is tacitly planning to use South Sudan territories to fight its proxy war.
To that end, President Kiir is preparing to launch an overall military offensive aimed at capturing the remaining territories under the occupation of SPLA–IO’s Riak faction and also those under the other armed groups and consequently declare the country purportedly free of rebellion.
What Kind of Peace does South Sudan need?
“The oppressors, who oppress, exploit and rape by virtue of their power; cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves,” writes Paulo Freire.
It is now clear that Salva Kiir is not ready to relinquish power any time soon. His maintaining of the status quo will surely exacerbate the suffering of the people and ultimately drive them out of the country to take refuge in the neighbouring countries as the war drags on.
South Sudan needs peace. It needs peace now and not tomorrow. It needs peace that endures not peace that will be breached within hours.
It needs sustainable peace, where individuals accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity are held accountable.
Peace that restores stability to the country and mends the social fabric so that different ethnicities will be able to coexist once again and rebuild their lives.
Peace that makes every South Sudanese feel secured and their properties protected.
Peace of equal justice to all and above all peace that makes the political and security leaders accountable to the citizens.
As stated in the above quote by Friere, this quote applies to Mr. Kiir and his cronies and to lesser extent to his former deputy and hence makes both of them unfit to partake in the negotiations.
It equally disqualifies them from being partners in the transitional government that will implement the agreement and lead the country to the general elections by the end of the transitional period.
As Dr. Riek is already under house confinement, Kiir should quit and be given safe exit or else he should be ejected by any available means.
The people of South Sudan have suffered for so long. They’ve had enough!
The AU/UN are under moral obligation and also duty bound to act in the interest of the innocent citizens of South Sudan and also to maintain regional security and international peace.