BY: Buomkuoth Gatkuoth Yer
Between the 18th and the 22nd of December 2017, the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), convened what it calls the High-Level Revitalization Form with the intention to revitalize the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCiSS) signed in Addis Ababa in August 2015.
A cessation of hostilities agreement was signed as a result. In February 2018, negotiations on governance, security arrangement, and economy shall follow.
The relevant question to ask is how many people genuinely believe that the high-level revitalization forum will succeed?
In my view, the IGAD-led high-level revitalization forum is destined to disappoint. Experience shows that whenever you have two parties and one is not ready to commit fully to make things work, the relationship is bound to fail.
Much the same as in marriage, if a spouse isn’t willing to completely focus on the relationship, regardless of how hard the other spouse tries to make it work, it simply won’t work.
The circumstance even gets aggravated if there is no impartial outsider to intervene reasonably. And despite how much effort one party puts in to influence the situation, the procedure is destined to disappoint.
As we are all well aware of, since the beginning of the first peace process, the government has not been committed to bringing peace to the people of South Sudan.
It has violated all cessation of hostilities from the beginning of the peace process until it decided to kill the agreement completely on July 8, 2016, by trying to assassinate the Chairman and the whole leadership of the SPLM-IO.
Yet IGAD not only stood by and allowed the agreement to be violated, but they also helped in violating by endorsing the candidates of the illegitimate 1st vice president and by isolating and confining the Chairman, Dr. Riek Machar, in South Africa.
Thereby, they ensured the government could pursue its destructive campaign against the innocent population of South Sudan on the pretext that it was pursuing peace.
With such a situation created by the government and endorsed by the IGAD, the SPLM-IO has no other choice but to defend its people from the tyrannical regime of Savla Kiir.
Since the beginning of this new process, the government has continued with its old policy of signing a cessation of hostilities in Addis Ababa, and then on the ground, it is continuing with its destructive campaign against the civil population since 23rd December 2017, and has particularly carried out several attacks in Unity State and the Bangalo area of Mundri West in the Western Equatoria region.
These are just a few examples that the government is continuing the same policy since 2014, yet IGAD has maintained its silence on the murder of innocent civilians in South Sudan.
Since 2014, IGAD has failed to bring a lasting peace in South Sudan. It has also failed to hold the government accountable for its actions in the past, and it will continue to do so in the future.
IGAD has failed. It is evidently clear that IGAD has chosen sides in this conflict.
As we are all aware of, Uganda, which is part of IGAD, has been supplying the regime in Juba with arms and ammunition and sending troops to fight alongside the government and now even Ethiopia, which has mostly been neutral since the beginning of this conflict, is believed to have aided the government in the recent fighting that took place in Pagak.
IGAD has been silent about every violation of the agreement that was signed in Addis Ababa and has been silent about the root causes of this conflict.
Therefore, we can’t trust IGAD countries to be neutral or to hold parties to the conflict responsible for their actions.
We believe IGAD is not the right body to mediate the peace process.
We, the Youth of South Sudan, are fully aware that peace could only come from us, but we ask the international community to help us bring peace to our country by transferring the peace process to a neutral and credible third-party, preferably the United Nations, and by releasing the Chairman of SPLM-IO, Dr. Riek Machar, before the next phase of talks begin in February next year.