IGAD’s Neutrality is in Question!

By J. Nguen Nyol

December 30, 2013 (SSNA) — On 27th of December 2013, the heads of States from East Africa Community convened a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya to deliberate on South Sudan’s crisis. Six representatives or head presidents attended the summit. The initiative sparked hope among the hard pressed South Sudanese and friends of South Sudan around the globe because it was a logical call of action to address South Sudan crises.

However, the resultant was a major disappointment. It appeared that the regional leaders had nothing to offer but to support President Kiir with his bloody hand. Unquestionably, the East Africa leaders turned out to be President Kiir’s allies, aimed to crush dissent political voices in South Sudan. This is one critical mistake committed by so- called the IGAD heads states. The deliberation was ill-considered and indirect voice of the Government of South Sudan on “attempted coup” in form of Uganda and Kenya.

For example, the Summit “condemns all unconstitutional actions to challenge the constitutional order, democracy and the rule of law and in particularly condemns changing the democratic government of the Republic of South Sudan through use of force,” as if the alleged coup attempt was true.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni said “we gave Riek Machar four days to respond (to the ceasefire offer) and if he doesn’t {response} we shall have to go for him, all of us. That is what we agreed in Nairobi.” True mediators don’t give any ultimatum to any side they want to bring to the negotiation table. This is not an impartial position and I ‘m therefore afraid that Dr. Riek and his SPLA/M’s supporters would be forced conform to come to the negotiation table using such hostile language.

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta has also taken side by stating that “let it be known that we in IGAD will not accept the unconstitutional overthrow of a duly and democratically elected government in South Sudan.” Mediation is not about intimidation but forming consensus on both sides. Any mediation which started on such a hostile environment like that of IGAD is a failed initiative.

On a personal note, I believe that IGAD initiative started on wrong foot on the following points:

1. The statement is a clear reinstatement of the Government of South Sudan’s (GOSS) position since this crisis started. The statement seems to imply that there was a coup attempt which undermines the credibility and neutrality of IGAD to mediate South Sudan’s warring parties.

2. The statement erroneously justified the position of the government of South Sudan on coup attempt, which objects the unconstitutional challenge of the democratically elected government of South Sudan, which is false. The SPLM leaders opposed to President never challenged Mr. President’s position at the level of the government of South Sudan.

3. IGAD’s support on the Government of South Sudan’s position will grossly skew the discussion and give the government of South an upper hand. Thus, will undermine the position of the SPLM political leaders led by Dr. Riek, the former vice of the Government of South Sudan. Therefore, this is not helpful and will not help negotiation to be fruitful.

4. The resolution of the Summit is in line with the Ugandan and Kenya’s position in the crisis. Hence, Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Republic of Uganda is already accused to have sent in troops and fighter jets to South Sudan to aid South Sudan Kiir’s failing support in the Army.

5. And while Kenya president was reported to have stated that “let it be known that we in IGAD will not accept the unconstitutional overthrow of a duly and democratically elected government in South Sudan.” This dangerous and a copy-cat of Yoweri Museveni’s position. As such, it’s irrational and unwise to have Uganda and Kenya mediate peace for South Sudan given their positions.

These are hostile tunes and will not bring the warring parties to the negotiation table. The IGAD’s melody is counterproductive and unwelcomed development. It kneecapped and compromised their partisan position and its prospect to bring peace to South Sudan.

It is disheartening to report that IGAD didn’t fulfill its expected role as a neutral mediator in this crisis, and I therefore concluded that IGAD lack impartiality and must not be the way to go to achieve amicable peace in South Sudan. Not only that, Uganda’s participation in the dialogue will continue to make matter worse due to its unwelcomed militarily interference in the South Sudan’s internal affairs.

At this critical time of need, I therefore call on the African Union, United Nations and the International community (the USA, Canada, Norway, UK, China and Australia) to help mediate South Sudan crisis than IGAD.

It’s important to reinstate that we need peace in South Sudan, but we can’t achieve such amicable peaceful solution through IGAD given their lacks of neutrality and unquestionable alliance with the government of South Sudan.

Lastly, to achieve amicable solution as alluded above between the South Sudan warring parties, I would like to reinstate and strongly recommend that the Africa Union and others neutral bodies must intervene to bring peace to South Sudan than IGAD. The IGAD is obviously not one to bring that peaceful solution.

J. Nguen is a concerned South Sudanese citizen living in Canada. He can be reached at [email protected].

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