Rooting for peace. Right to left: South Sudan President Salvar Kiir, Sudan President Omar Bashir, President Museveni and the former Vice President of South Sudan Riek Machar shortly before addressing delegates and the media during the Khartoum Round on Facilitating IGAD Peace Process for South Sudan in the Sudan capital, Khartoum on June 25. PPU PHOTO
Great news! Finally, South Sudan’s warring factions have agreed to end the country’s five-year war and share power. Although the finer details of the deal are to be worked out, this is a giant step that should be supported to hold and end the bloody stop-start civil war that has been fought since 2013.
The Sunday agreement in Khartoum between sworn foes – president Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar – should bring hope to Africa’s youngest nation that has witnessed peace for only two years since its Independence in July 2011. The crashing war, fanned by leadership and ethnic rivalries, has killed tens of thousands and displaced nearly three million of South Sudan’s 12 million people, and destroyed their economy that heavily relies on crude oil production.
The war in South Sudan has also impacted on Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan, and to some extent DR Congo. And this is why the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and East African heads of state have to prop this latest peace initiative. They need to set out non-ambiguous monitoring mechanisms for implementation of the peace.
Because of the above, both Mr Kiir and Dr Machar should be held to their word so that the new peace deal will not falter or collapse because, as Mr Kiir now says, it was not forced upon them as were previous accords. Hence, the two principals have only one option – peace, and should not fail the people of South Sudan, who have now agreed they must make peace among themselves.
There’s no doubt that the South Sudan peace deal can work if the political leaders cooperate and work together on key pillars of good governance, including on security, justice, accountability and the rule of law.
This, therefore, demands that doubts on shortfalls of the deal, including on power sharing ratios, as expressed by the smaller opposition groups, shouldn’t be overlooked, but straightened out. This will create an all-inclusive formula for the proposed three-year transitional government that should survive pitfalls of previous agreements that held out for only months before war flared up again in December 2013, then again in July 2016.
As Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the signing, the South Sudan leaders and people should seize the opportunity offered to marshal their commitment and drive to claim the future of South Sudan as one people; and indeed, they can.
Going forward, President Museveni and Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, as guarantors of the deal, should play impartial midwives so as to deliver a robust and enduring peace for South Sudan.
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