Neutral, credible and effective mediation of the conflict in South Sudan
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RE: IGAD, a meddler or a mediator.
In December 2013, IGAD offered itself as a mediator after deadly conflict erupted in Juba. Many South Sudanese were happy and full of hope because IGAD was part of the process that led to the resolution of the conflict between the then Southern Sudan and the Sudan government.
We were convinced that IGAD has the niceties to navigate the difficult route in the current South Sudan conflict and, is therefore, better equipped with lessons learnt, political maturity and delicate diplomacy. We reasoned that the regional bloc was therefore, equipped with expertise to exert pressure, provide incentives, and offer desirable alternatives to all the parties to the conflict.
Sadly, our hopes and aspirations are dashed as we begin to see an incoherent, inconsistent, sometimes inconsiderate and biased muscular style of mediation by IGAD. We have painfully witnessed IGAD moving gradually away from helping the parties to overcome their deep-seated incompatible goals, to entrenching mistrusts and fears.
IGAD’s poor mediation formulation since 2013, has gradually pushed the parties further apart from de-escalation, concession and compromise.
We are not blaming IGAD for the lack of peace in South Sudan. Any good mediator dealing with many belligerents in South Sudan who are blood-thirsty, greed-based, power hungry and devoid of well articulate creed, is bound to face enormous challenges.
Therefore, it will be irresponsible to blame IGAD for the failure to achieve a sustainable peace in South Sudan. But as a regional bloc shouldering the responsibility of mediating peace in South Sudan, IGAD should be held accountable for showing competing and conflicting interests in South Sudan. IGAD’s actions shows that it has now moved away from being a mediator to becoming a meddler. This new role means that IGAD cannot succeed to satisfy the interests of all its members without side-lining other warring parties to the conflict.
IGAD’s selfish approach is not helping South Sudanese, but rather blocking the road to peace in South Sudan. The result of IGAD’s lack of impartiality and its exclusionary approach to peace making in South Sudan is deadly. For instance, IGAD poor rationale for isolating the SPLA (IO) through coercion actions has not help to de-escalate conflict. The isolation of the main actors has backfired and led to counter-escalation. This and other missteps of IGAD have created a dire humanitarian conditions for millions of South Sudanese.
Due to IGAD’s rag-tagged approach to mediation, the excluded parties have resorted to bargains by bullets. These groups have banked their hopes on violence and other beyond-the-table tactics, to get IGAD’s attention, hence maximizing their bargaining positions to weaken opponents, to prevent being side-lined, or to sabotage the talks altogether.
The civilians are paying huge costs, directly and indirectly. IGAD’s continuous involvement in peace making in South Sudan has produced more harm than good.
It is against this backdrop, that we, the undersigned, are firmly convinced that sustainable peace in South Sudan and the region will not come through IGAD. We appeal to the African Union, the United Nations and Troika to appoint a neutral and credible mediator who work to bring an end to the conflict South Sudan.
We thank IGAD for their efforts so far! We hope that the views and voices of the petitioners will find audience.
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