Why South Sudan peace deal could be an illusion

Sunday August 12 2018

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba 

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

Last weekend, South Sudan president Salva Kiir and head of the country’s main rebel group Riek Machar signed a final cease fire and power-sharing agreement.
Presidents Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda are among the mediators in the attempt to reconcile the political rivals of South Sudan. Mention those names only and you have revealed the insurmountable problems which these four Africans leaders face from the beginning.
The history of the four and the current political crisis in the leadership and governance of South Sudan make it impossible for these distinguished leaders to achieve the objective of the mission.
Before that region became independent, the founders of the new nation could not agree on the name of the new state. Several names were mooted, which would have avoided confusion and misunderstanding between what is now Sudan and new country.
At the same time, reports circulated that tribes were totally divided over the new leadership, and many threatened that they would not obey the new leadership and would rather stay in the old Sudan.
To complicate matters further, many influential leaders in the old Sudan had serious misgivings and publically declared that it would be a tragedy for the whole region, if South Sudan became independent. These continue to nag everyone.
Since birth, South Sudan has fought a civil war, famine and national disasters. This is still the situation. The countries where the mediators come from are themselves not ideally governed to inspire the leadership of South Sudan. Bashir is wanted by the international community to answer alleged crimes against humanity.
In consequence, mediation involving the rivals and conducted by two African leaders is near impossibility. Reconciliation and the achievement of peace among nations require applied research, many political inputs, total commitment to the project and good will of all stakeholders.
In the case of South Sudan, it will certainly take much more than the presence of eminent African presidents to resolve the enormous differences between the opposing sides.
Finally, reconciliation can only be reached if the two or more neighbouring states which enjoy the same culture and inspirations, take on the task. Currently, there are differences between Sudan and Uganda on one hand, and Sudan and the international community on the other hand. They all stem from the variations of human and community rights, the methodology and style of governance allowed in these countries.
In some instances, government officials of some of these countries are wanted war criminals and could be arrested and detained at any time. The acts and behaviour of the stakeholders are so awful that their governments are universally condemned and a price put on the heads of some of their leaders. To expect any successful outcome of mediation participated in by these leaders is similar to the expectations one has of getting water from stone. The truth reported in the media appears to be an illusion.