By: FRED OLUOCH, The East African Special Correspondent
Posted Saturday, December 6, 2014. SSN
**Sanctions could lead to more conflict, and the countries involved have economic and political interests in South Sudan.
**A final decision on the sanctions will be arrived at when the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development meets in Nairobi next week, on the sidelines of the infrastructure summit.
**The threat of sanctions by Igad appears to be having the desired effect on the principals in the conflict, with both leaders making visible efforts to sell a proposed peace plan to their followers.
**Reports say that Igad heads of state and negotiators have been encouraged that President Kiir and Dr Machar have convened separate consultative forums to convince their followers to sign the peace deal;
Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania have taken the initiative to save peace talks on South Sudan from collapsing, and the young country degenerating into full-scale civil war.
The presidents hope to convince the warring parties in South Sudan to sign a new deal after the November 28 deadline to accede to a peace agreement passed.
Last week, President Museveni held the first formal face-to-face meeting in Entebbe with an SPLM/A in opposition delegation. It is understood the meeting was a precursor to another with former vice president and leader of the rebel faction Riek Machar, a development mediators from both sides of the conflict say will give the process new impetus.
President Kikwete — who, having convened an SPLM meeting in Arusha in October between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Dr Machar — dispatched his foreign Affairs minister Bernard Membe to Kenya on Wednesday to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta, and on Thursday to meet President Museveni.
The purpose of these consultations was for the regional leaders to hammer out a deal that could be further discussed during the 8th Northern Corridor Infrastructure Summit to be held in Nairobi on December 11.
Of great concern to President Museveni and President Kikwete is a situation where regional leaders will be forced to impose sanctions on the top leadership of the two factions. Sanctions could lead to more conflict, and the countries involved have economic and political interests in South Sudan.
As a result, plans to implement the proposed sanctions after the warring parties failed to meet the November 28 deadline have been put on hold until December 11.
A final decision on the sanctions will be arrived at when the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development meets in Nairobi next week, on the sidelines of the infrastructure summit.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed told The East-Afican that both parties are still consulting with their constituencies, but the decision on the bloc’s approach to the conflict will be arrived at when leaders from the region meet next week.
“The good news is that everybody has been in serious discussions and we will soon know from them whether there is movement towards signing of an agreement and what modalities will be adopted,” said Ms Mohamed.
The threat of sanctions by Igad appears to be having the desired effect on the principals in the conflict, with both leaders making visible efforts to sell a proposed peace plan to their followers.
At their last summit, Igad leaders issued the November 28 ultimatum.
READ: South Sudan: Igad threatens sanctions if talks fail; US wants UN trusteeship
The proposed sanctions include asset freezes, travel bans within the region, and stopping supply of arms and ammunition and other materials that could be used in war.
Reports say that Igad heads of state and negotiators have been encouraged that President Kiir and Dr Machar have convened separate consultative forums to convince their followers to sign the peace deal.
The EastAfrican has learnt that signing of the peace deal failed on previous occasions because the two leaders encountered resistance from their generals who are suspicious of a power-sharing arrangement and prefer a decisive military outcome.
Sources say that while the political leaders negotiating the deal have leaned towards the negotiated settlement embodied in the power-sharing deal, they have been wary of upsetting generals who command the troops on the ground.
After holding a conference on November 24, President Kiir met with top officials Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and key military commanders on December 3 at Bilpham Military Barracks near Juba Airport to get them to signing into the power-sharing agreement.
According to reports, some generals rejected the idea of having two commanders–in-chief — one for government forces and the other for the SPLM/A in Opposition forces — as had been suggested by the Dr Machar group.
On the other side, Dr Machar also convened a two-day conference with his rebel commanders in Pagak County in Jonglei State near the border with Ethiopia, to brief them on the power-sharing proposal by Igad.
The meeting was also supposed to come up with their version of the peace deal, after Juba last week provided their blue print that provided for a non-executive prime minister and an army under one commander-in-chief. Ethiopian forces provided security for the meeting.
Last week, President Museveni cautioned the rebels against making demands for executive powers for the proposed position of the prime minister.
The opposition had proposed the removal of the post of the vice-president, so that the president and prime minister could share power. END