Lest Hopes of Peace in South Sudan Are Not Dashed

The resumption of fighting less than 24 hours following a ceasefire agreement that President Salva Kiir of South Sudan

and rebel leader Riek Machar signed last Friday in Addis Ababa after tough rounds of negotiations is shattering hopes of a quick resolution to the bloody sixth-month civil war that has ravaged the country.

The warring sides must honor the deal they signed and bring an end to a conflict which has claimed thousands – and possibly tens of thousands – of lives, with more than 1.3 million people forced to flee their homes and over 3.2 million facing the specter of famine. All the parties to the dispute need to display the utmost patience in bringing to a fruitful conclusion a process that is bound to be protracted a truce that is hoped to put a stop to the suffering of the people of South Sudan should not unravel due to a power struggle.

The international community has to send a g signal in protest against the violation of an accord which exacerbates the situation in South Sudan. In particular Ethiopia and the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which brokered the deal, must exert extra effort to persuade the protagonists of the conflict to put the interest of the nation and their fellow citizens above theirs.

Both Mr Kiir and Mr Machar expressed optimism after signing the agreement. Mr Kiir said the party and army he leads would fully implement the deal while Mr Machar stated that South Sudan desperately needed peace, not a mindless war.

Reports coming out of South Sudan suggest that both President Kiir and Mr. Machar do not have complete control of their troops. The fact that the battle ripping apart South Sudan has assumed ethnic overtones– with Mr Kiir backed by fighters from his Dinka tribe and Mr Machar relying on his Nuer ethnic group–is the foremost challenge standing in the way of the peace process. While the lack of information is contributing to prolonging the civil war, the inflammatory statements and opinions voiced by ethnically biased elements is adding fuel to the fire. Navi Pillay, the UN rights chief, noted in a UN report released last week on the conflict that many of the atrocities committed by both sides were ‘the precursors of genocide.’

Given that it played a prominent role in the peace agreement the government of Ethiopia has to intensify its effort to bring about a lasting peace to the world’s youngest nation. Recent data shows that presently Ethiopia is hosting over 120,000 South Sudanese refugees, with an average of 10,000 refugees crossing over into its territory daily. The strain this puts on the country cannot be overstated.

South Sudan desperately needs peace more than anything else now not only to end the senseless death, displacement and famine the people of the country are subjected to, but to maintain the stability of the region as well. The conflict has made it difficult to deliver the food aid, clean water and medicine that the internally displaced require urgently. According to a WFP report, roughly three-quarters of of South Sudan estimated population of 10.3 million is facing the prospect of famine. This shocking figure demonstrates the alarming proportions the conflict has assumed and points to the exigency of bringing about a negotiated settlement to the dispute.

Aside from the humanitarian crisis it has led to, the South Sudan civil war has also had detrimental economic ramifications for both the oil-rich country itself and the surrounding region, particularly Ethiopia. It is hampering the burgeoning people-to-people and economic ties between the two nations which mutually benefit the citizens of both and help them to prosper together.

The globalized age we live in present Africa with opportunities which enable it to extricate itself from the centuries-old clutches of poverty and rise to greater heights on the back of enhanced regional and continental ties on the economic and political fronts. Peace is an essential factor for the accomplishment of this lofty objective. So is subscribing to a view which eschews narrow tribalism and aocates regional and continental integration. As a major player on both the regional and continental level it is incumbent upon Ethiopia to work tirelessly towards this end. This calls for it to do its level best to ensure that the hopes of peace in South Sudan are not prematurely dashed.

Source : The Reporter

Leave a Reply