August 9, 2014 (JUBA) – The 60-day ultimatum set by mediators from the East African regional bloc (IGAD) for South Sudan’s warring parties to agree on establishment of a transitional government is likely to be missed by both sides, concerned citizens have said.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (L) and rebel leader Riek Machar sign a cessation of hostilities agreement in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 9 May 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
“The actions of the warring parties are frustrating. They are using delaying tactics while many innocent civilians continue to die helplessly. These misguided behaviours are unacceptable”, Joseph Acuil, a member of African Congress of South Sudan told Sudan Tribune Saturday.
In May, both parties to the conflict vowed to bring an end to the fighting and agreed to establish a transitional government of national unity within 60-days. On the eve of the agreed date, however, disagreement at the talks make this commitment seemingly impossible to achieve.
Acuil said peace would be reached within the set time frame if the rival factions continue to make “unnecessary” demands. Both sides, he said, see the resolution of the conflict more like a power game.
“From the way I see it, the warring parties are seeing the resolution of the conflict through power game. They are looking at the resolution of this senseless war through how many positions in government each is expected to get from the negotiation,” said the opposition party member.
“It is not about the cause of this conflict. It is about power which, by the way, was what caused the conflict because some people wanted to ascend to it and some people showed resistance”, he further stressed.
Moses Duku, a native of South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state, a told a group discussion at Juba university on Saturday that failure by the two warring parties to meet the 60-day deadline set by IGAD should not cause alarm among citizens, if significant progress was to be made in the talks.
“It is not about failure to meet the deadline, but rather substantive progress in the talks. If they can agree to resume the talks and make significant progress, especially if they accept to form the transitional government and sign permanent ceasefire, I will be one of the people to congratulate them”, Duku told a formal group discussion on Saturday.
Malith Dut Maluil, the moderator of the Juba university discussion, outlined what he described as four likely scenarios of the conflict.
“My reading is that the region would certainly face for options: put strong pressure to ensure the two parties reach the deadline regardless of whether they are satisfied or not. If this agreement is reached in this way, the commitment of the parties to implement it remains another concern given the experiences with the previous agreements,” he said.
Maluil, however, also argued that the parties in the conflict be given more time to negotiate a meaningful peace deal, avail punitive measures to prompt the parties to end their inflexibility and belligerence or allow delegations of the main rival factions strike a deal between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar while ignoring other stakeholders.
“I know very well none of the scenarios are desirable, but this is my take in this discussion”, he said.
Meanwhile Oxfam’s South Sudan country director, Tariq Riebl said the people of South Sudan expected a political agreement that would deliver a transitional government to steer them out of conflict and bring an end to the violence that has engulfed the country for eight months.
“This humanitarian crisis is nothing short of a man-made disaster. This conflict must end now. There is no military solution to be won. The only real solutions to prevent further deterioration are a genuine commitment to peace and an immediate and lasting ceasefire”, Riebl said in a statement.
“Communities trapped by fighting and in hard to reach areas must be able to safely access lifesaving assistance, and there must be zero tolerance on obstacles to aid by all parties. Willingness to compromise is needed on both sides to reach a swift political solution,” he added.
The Oxfam boss, however, said they would exert all necessary efforts to meet the rising needs of the people affected by the conflict if an enabling environment was created by the two sides in the conflict.
“As aid workers we will strive to meet the rising needs of the people, but that is not addressing the root causes of the crisis. This has to happen at the negotiation tables in Addis Ababa. There is no end to the humanitarian crisis without an end to the fighting,” he stressed.
Since December last year, nearly 1.5 million people have been displaced, including over 400,000 who have fled the young into neighbouring countries. Within South Sudan, up to 4 million people, aid agencies say, are facing hunger in a country with the worst food crisis in the world.
“There is an urgent need for the international community to show a united front and use all their diplomatic influence to ensure both parties engage meaningfully in the talks and listen to the diversity of voices in South Sudan,” said the Oxfam country director for South Sudan.
He also described as “unacceptable” last week’s killing of about humanitarian workers in the country because of their ethnicity in Upper Nile state.
“This political impasse can’t go on any longer – the people of South Sudan have suffered too much,” Riebl said.