Editorial

Threats will not end Sudan’s pain

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By Editorial

Posted  Thursday, January 2   2014 at  02:00

In Summary

This cycle of violence and slaughter can and should be ended. Any mediation effort must refrain from finger-pointing precisely because hardly any of the parties to this conflict will come to the table with clean hands.

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The sabre-rattling by IGAD in its ultimatum to Dr Riek Machar and friends to cease and desist from further fighting was most unfortunate. You cannot present yourself as a neutral arbitre in a conflict when at the same time you do not appear to be sufficiently impartial to warrant holding that position.

It is slightly over two weeks since the bloodletting began in South Sudan’s capital of Juba. Since then, thousands of lives have been needlessly lost; thousands of barely surviving civilians remain displaced in either makeshift UN camps or out hiding in the bush. There is the real fear that it could get worse.

Until now, the news media continues telling the ‘sexy story’ about the shooting, the death numbers, growing humanitarian crisis, etc. Not enough of why it had to come to this again is getting out.

Whether unwitting or deliberate, this oversight is dangerous because it allows the politicians to shape the outcome of things to their interest without the fear of public questioning.

It is important for the world to be told about the grave political problems which have dogged South Sudan since independence on July 9, 2011 and even long before. Everyone would be doing this young nation a terrible disservice if we willingly became complicit in its conspiracy of silence about the reasons behind its internal quarrels.

Only when IGAD adopts an openly honest posture, instead of the cowboy tactics it seems to favour, shall its mediatory efforts have a lasting impact. Forcing one side to the negotiating table through deadlines -- without publicly acknowledging that there is more to this conflict than meets the eye – is provocative and largely serves to sweep deep-seated grievances beneath the surface.

Those grievances will brew until another day when they again blow out in yet another orgy of killings. Our most recent reference point to a similar outrage was 1991 (note the Bor massacre). Almost the same players were involved then, the grievances are hardly dissimilar and the belligerent posture adopted by the protagonists identical.

This cycle of violence and slaughter can and should be ended. Any mediation effort must refrain from finger-pointing precisely because hardly any of the parties to this conflict will come to the table with clean hands.