Opinion piece on IGAD-Plus, its implication to SPLA- IG, SPLA/SPLM –IO, and the people of South Sudan

By Gatwech Ruot Nyoat

August 20, 2015 (SSNA) — As the deadline set by IGAD-Plus is approaching, with the looming international community sanctions and pressure in urging South Sudanese warring factions to bring lasting solution to ongoing civil war that led to immense loss of lives and human suffering. The principal parties to conflict have to make wise decisions to compromise their positions to give South Sudanese people in UNMISS camps, refugees in neighboring countries and those bearing the burden of hardship economic crisis inside the country an opportunity to restore their living. A lot of sacrifices in reaching a lasting peace is expected from Mr.Salva Kiir and Dr.Riek Machar.

Both principals should know that failure to negotiate in good faith to bring peace back home will have adverse effects in which military solutions will not bring sustainable peace at the end.

The IGAD-Plus Compromise Agreement Advantages to the Government or SPLA-IG

In the light of the IGAD-Plus Compromise Agreement, the SPLA-IG have to take advantage of this agreement by signing it to legitimize, the illegitimacy of the government that came into being by expiring terms on 8 July 2015 as stipulated in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan. By doing so, the government will get grassroots support because it has brought to the people of South Sudan a peace that is much needed. This will also show the government commitment to peace and restoration of the international relations that deteriorated as a result of war.

It is within the reach of the government to exert its efforts by convincing the warmongers, the loyalist Nuer generals and the small cliques of Dinka that belief in crushing the rebels by military means and have mentality of born to rule – the like of Kuol Manyang , Makuei Lueth and Paul Malong, who said a year ago he would crash the rebels within a month). Otherwise, the consequences of refusing the IGAD-Plus Compromise Agreement will adversely affect the government particularly the ordinary citizens who have not got any dividend of the independence of South Sudan.

For instance, the rejection of the IGAD-Plus Compromise Agreement will result into international isolations and sanctions to government and individuals that derail the peace process. This will be followed by the economics collapse in the country as well as deteriorating support from citizens that want peace to come and improve their livelihoods .The ordinary citizens that had been affected by war did not benefit or had not been part of the dividends of independence. If war will not stop, the likelihood of conflict to spread to more peaceful states will be more. The case of Western Equatoria where citizens were frustrated by the behavior of the army that mistreats the ordinary citizens is very tangible example. Hence, such scenarios will create enabling environment for citizens to take up arms against the government. The better way is to bring peace so that ordinary citizens will focus on how to improve their livelihoods.

Other aspect that the government should consider is the drop of oils price that supports the existence of the mercenaries such as Uganda Defense Forces, the Darfur rebels -JEM and the SPLA-North will have no way to be maintained if war continues. Failing to pay them will mean there will be no grantee for the existence of government in Juba.

Implication of IGAD-Plus for SPLA-IO

In my opinion the IGAD-Plus Compromise   for SPLA- IO has advantages because majority of Greater Upper Nile executive organs will be dominated by them .That will give the SPLA- IO opportunity to start federal structure at grass root levels. People of the Greater Upper Nile are mostly affected by the war, living in UN camps, displaced within the country and denied humanitarians access, dying of hunger and diseases daily. The SPLA-IO should take the agreement seriously by making compromise so that these citizens be rescued from this inhumane conditions. Otherwise, people will lose trust and confident in peace process since they are the only ones in the country that call for war to stop. SPLA-IO should know that it is when there is ceasefire that the ideology of federalism will be realized in people’s hearts. Signing this agreement give the opposition chance to mobilize citizens to support them in upcoming elections when transitional period ends. During the transitional the SPLA-IO can strengthen their army and supplies in case government refuse to implement the agreement. Within the transitional period SPLA_IO can make coalition with other political parties to unite people of South Sudan based on the ideology of federalism that most people of South Sudan want .It will be the time for SPLA_IO to mobilize citizens to support federalism if it is taken up for referendum. Signing the agreement will signify the leadership commitment of SPLA/SPLM to IGAD-Plus modality on peace agreement to show to the international and regional bodies their commitment to bring peace and desired reforms in South Sudan. So the SPLA-IO should work with regional countries to have representations in Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr El Ghazal since there are supporters from these regions in the movement who want to be represented in the agreement.

Therefore, taking decisive action to avoid international isolations and sanctions should be taken seriously by SPLA_IO to escape the IGAD-Plus and the IGAD- countries which will use their interests to fight directly or indirectly with them to prolong their interests. In the same nutshell, the leadership of SPLA_IO has to convince the warmonger commanders that roar like lions without analyzing the implications of being internationally isolated even if you are fighting for just cause. The arms and ammunitions to fight with come through international boundaries; unless you have support there is no way to fight. Let the government that sign the arms deal with its neighbor refuse it so that it will lose support internationally. The regional and international isolation might include the use of forces and the expulsion by the IGAD countries that give refuge to the movement. In order to avoid that looming sanction it wise to be on the right side where the international community will support the movement.

For people of South Sudan in the current situation, it is clear that their sufferings will continue as far as the warring parties are not likely to sign the agreement as of August 17, 2015   approaches. Since the IGAD-Plus is being maneuvered by the president of Uganda as the dominant figure, the international community and the regional leaders should be vigilant to any amendment made to original IGAD- Plus Compromise Agreement. Failing of the international community and AU to pay attention into detailed agreement will be betrayal to ordinary people of South Sudan who are waiting for peace in inhumane circumstances created by man-made civil war.

The author is a MA graduate from the University Of Notre Dame, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, South Bend Indiana, USA. He can be reached at [email protected].

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