South Sudan, which is the newest nation in the world, has put the international community to the test. The atrocities that started in December 2013 have brought UN, AU, IGAD, the Troika nations and China together in 2015. There was strong effort put by IGAD alone in 2014, but it failed and now has witnessed 20 months of killing. But with the new efforts of the IGAD Plus initiative, the conflicting parties signed a Compromise Agreement (CA) on August 26, 2015.
The UN is one organization that has been present in South Sudan prior to the conflict over state-building and was challenged even if it provided protection for many civilians. IGAD worked with the conflicting parties and brought them to sign cease-fire agreements, which have remained to be words on paper. The conflicting parties, i.e. South People Liberation Party (SPLM), represented by President Salva Kiir, and South Sudan Liberation Movement–In Opposition (SPLM-IO), represented by the former Vice President Riek Machar, have not come to an agreement. The killings continued and many civilians of the Nuer and Dinka origin were killed, even if they were on UN grounds, which were presumed to be protected.
The new CA entails that SPLM-IO disintegrates, and shares power and the oil revenue; and includes sanctions for non-implementation of the agreement. Moreover, it also requires the parties to unite their armies and establish a federal system. Disagreement over the content of the CA from President Salva Kiir’s side was visible,the information minister walked out of the signing ceremony and the chief of staff of the national army did not even attend the ceremony. It is also said that Dinka elders are not pleased with the content of the agreement as it entails sharing power with the opposition, whose majority are from the Nuer ethnic group. On the other side, the opposition is crumbling down as many generals, led by Peter Gatdet and Gathoth Gatkuoth, have fled to Sudan after disagreeing over the content of the CA.
Such agreements are not expected to appease everyone, but the attitude of members of the opposition and the ministers’ makes one wonder how long the agreement will last. The CA restructures the nation and leaves so many people without jobs, which will be a huge concern for President Salva Kiir. With regards to the election of 2018, the competition between the parties who hold onto grudge is not to be forgotten. There is also a huge task for the parties to deal with the poor governance displayed over the years and put to an end to corruption and impunity.
Though it is impressive that the conflicting parties have signed the agreements, the greater task still awaits the IGAD Plus initiative.
This agreement signed on August 26, 2015 is the outcome of the IGAD Plus initiative. IGAD is a lead negotiator and has brought together the UN, AU, Troika nations (Great Britain, United States and Norway) and China. This makes us expect a stronger means of implementation even if the conflicting parties are known for rescinding their agreements. The involved parties have economic and political power and interest in the nation, so pressure from them is said to be a means to make the warring factions abide to the agreement.
But it is still my strong opinion that external solution has not worked for South Sudan and many nations so far. Thus the IGAD Plus initiative needs to put more effort in finding an internal solution and in bringing the different parties together when it comes to implementation. This, I believe, will ensure that there will be equal representation of interest during implementation and puts the growing number of factions in the nation to an end. Otherwise, the nation will relapse into conflict in a very short time. African solutions for African problems!