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South Sudan Peace: Why Sudan can be a right key holder

By Beny Gideon

"A lion once said to the victim who was wounded the previous night by a lion that it is us who break a human bone in the night and fix the same in the morning" Unknown

The continuation of the face-to-face peace talk between President Salva Kiir Mayardit on behalf of the government delegation on one hand and armed opposition groups led by the leader of the SPLM-IO Dr Riek Machar and associated leaders of South Sudan Opposition Alliance on the other is due to take place in Khartoum, Sudan on 25 June 2018. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development IGAD-led peace process will continue until the end of 14 days grace period to achieve peace in South Sudan as timed by the IGAD member states and the international community. However, different sessions and shuttle diplomacy shall continue in different locations as agreed upon in the communiqué of the 32nd extra-ordinary summit of IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on 21 June 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In the last meeting, both political and military leaders of South Sudan across the divide in presence of the IGAD Council of Ministers and Heads of State and Government summit once more squandered an opportunity to bring about the long-awaited peace agreement. The opposition groups rejected the peace agreement on a claim of structural formality of the peace process while the government also rejected on the aspect of the practical functionality of the would-be government of national unity with Dr Riek Machar as a partaker. With these two parallel outcomes, vulnerable South Sudanese children, women and the elderly are dying of senseless war, diseases and hunger every day.

This poses questions of what miracle is to bring peace in South Sudan? What is different in this round with Sudanese President than the previous IGAD Special Envoys? In response, one fundamental difference with this round of talk is that it is finally blessed to be under the auspices of Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed al Bashir for the first time. President Bashir is a man popularly suspected by South Sudanese and friends of South Sudan to be a key-holder for peace in his right hand and the other key for political violence at the left hand. He has been a referee of both games for the last 29 years since he came into power in 1989. Notwithstanding the fact that Sudan has no records of mediation expertise and peacebuilding, this particular case in question is going to be a successful story for many reasons not necessary to be discussed at this stage. Above all, the economic viability of both countries depends on the prevalence of peace and security of two countries and the wider region.

By and large, history is clear on the wall that before and after hard-won independence of South Sudan, the successive regimes in Khartoum including current National Congress Party NCP-led government has been major sponsor of the allied-militias groups in South Sudan that have been backstabbing the just cause for freedom of South Sudanese, some of which are still National Congress Party babysitters until date. It is now upon President Bashir, for South Sudanese to accept him as a credible peace broker to disengage allied militia groups and use the right key for peace as he did twice in the past in favour for South Sudanese. In 2005, he signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement CPA in 2005 and accepts the outcome of referendum results on self-determination that led to the creation of an independent Republic of South Sudan. In conclusion, President al-Bashir and Khartoum administration must ensure that he carefully deal with people he knows best than any, to bring about peace while on the other hand urge all South Sudanese leaders, stakeholders and members of the international community to insubordinate your interests and prioritize the call for peace now and time is now to act.

Beny Gideon is an Attorney and South Sudan Human Rights Commissioner. Views are solely that of the author. He is reachable via benygmabor@gmail.com