Effect of Conflict in S. Sudan
International chroniclers including Reuters had recently reported that South Sudan’s Former Vice President and Opposition Leader, Riek Machar had left the country for a neighboring state(some allegedly mentioned Democratic Congo). His departure took place several weeks after he withdrew from the Capital, Juba, during fierce fighting with government troops. Statement issued by the leadership of SPLA(opposition SPLA-IO) said he had left the country last mid of August to a ‘’safe country’’ within the region, though Spokesman James Gatdet Dak declined to comment.
Machar had a two-year saga of rebellion against forces loyal to his, long time rival President Salva Kirr before the two sides reached a peace deal in August, 2015. Under the deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to resume his role as Vice President.
However, fighting flared up last month, leading Machar to withdraw with his forces from Juba around mid-July. Sources said that he retreated due to fear of death and persecution that might be posed by government troops. His insider aides on their social websites said that the rebellion fighters had relocated their leader to a neighboring country where he could have easy access of media and unhindered command of his fighters.
Salva kirr had sacked Machar from his post and appointed Taban Deng Gal, a former opposition negotiator, who broke ranks with Machar, as vice president. Kirr had also fired six ministers that were said to be close allies of Machar and this act had widened the political rift between the two forces and drawing threats of more fighting.
The incident has induced fear and drum-beat of war that caused more than 60,000 people to flee the country in fear of outbreak of conflict between the supporters of the two sides in the past three weeks, UN said, on top of the hundreds of thousands already forced out of their homes by two years of ethnically-charged violence. The two years of civil war is said to have killed more than 10,000 people and displaced over two million people, many of whom fled to neighboring Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan.
Concerned by the mobilization of forces, AU and IGAD had so far reiterated the urgent imperative of an inclusive dialogue among all concerned stakeholders based on the rejection of the use of force , respect of human rights and dignity, the rule of law and constitutional legality and their readiness to facilitate dialogue.
While the peace process drags on, fighting continues on the ground including targeted killings based on ethnicity, rape, the recruitment of child soldiers, and other war crimes. Some said the conflict is ethnically charged and it is waged between Kirr from the Dinka group and Machar a Nuer. Whatever, the conflict has exacerbated the blood bath and proliferation of weapons.
It is to be reminisced that both sides had agreed a peace deal in Addis Ababa, in Dec., 2015, and set up a unity government. But the cease fire was violated several times that lead Macahr to flee the country and demanded the intervention of international force to keep both forces apart.
The turmoil has dismayed regional and international powers that helped forces to broker peace deal. The United Nations said that any political changes must be consistent with the peace deal, which stated that vice president must be chosen from the opposition. However, some sources said that South Sudan needs new ideas used to broker peace deal rather than UN-imposed government; the international community has to think about it carefully as it cans not forge lasting resolution to the problems of South Sudan as much as the owners of the matter, the South Sudanese themselves.
Earlier, while discussing with UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon in Kigali, Rwanda, PM Haile-Mariam Desalegen said that Ethiopia will strengthen its effort to support regional and international community’s efforts to seek peaceful resolution to the stalemate in South Sudan(his briefing quashes the allegation that neighboring countries that should have been most involved in the peace process have not yet utilized their unique economic leverage and diplomatic gambit to press for the concessions necessary for peace in South Sudan).
He said the situation in South Sudan is critical and Ethiopia is very much concerned about the volatile situation on the ground that is causing loss of lives and destruction of properties. He reconfirmed nation’s stance to tirelessly work with the two faction leaders, support and ensure lasting peace in South Sudan. He stressed that, as a chair of IGAD, Ethiopia will work to organize other countries in the region and iron out problems in a concerted manner. Not only mere support, he confirmed, as a close ally of South Sudan, Ethiopia will leave no stone unturned to seal permanent and binding peace deal in the conflict-ridden country and secure peace.
Taking in to account peace keeping and peacemaking role in the Horn of Africa and being the current Chair of African Union, Ethiopia is playing key role in bringing together the parties to round table discussion and negotiation and curb the conflict in South Sudan. Earlier, it had tried to broker peace between the two parties since the conflict started; exerted effort to review the implementation of the peace proposal forwarded by IGAD; condemned instigation of conflict and any attempt of unconstitutional removal of democratically elected government and called on immediate cessation of hostilities.
Ethiopia has become ardent proponent of peace due to its foreign policy which is established on bedrock foundation of peace and peaceful co-existence between neighbors of the region. The foreign relation policy and national security strategy emphasizes that peace and peaceful co-existence, fighting poverty and backwardness and the promotion of democratization which enables to enjoy warm relations with all neighbors (with the exception of Eritrea) as the government’s priority.
The policy makes clear that Ethiopia values relations with its neighbors and has a keen interest in advancing bilateral and regional relations on the basis of mutual interest. In this regard, the revitalization of IGAD was, and remains, a top priority in Ethiopia’s efforts to bring together neighboring countries in the quest for peace, stability and economic development (Ethiopia, as peace-loving neighbor and stalwart of regional development and integration, has been playing pivotal role to help both forces of South Sudan to come to terms through round table negotiation).
Ethiopia’s relations with its neighbors are now far more solid than ever before. Apart from Ethiopia’s declared policy of peaceful relations based on the principle of mutual respect, the existence of enduring security, economic and political ties has made these relationships closer and more dependable. As a member and Chair of IGAD, the role of Ethiopia to stabilize East Africa, thrive peace and strengthen regional integration is invaluable.
Similarly, Ethiopia’s active participation in the AU as well as IGAD has contributed to the creation of a cooperative framework among countries in the region on issues of common concern including peace initiatives, conflict early warning systems and economic integration. Apart from security, Ethiopia has always supported peaceful resolution of conflicts between the fighting forces of Sudan. It remains committed supporter of peace-deal and peaceful negotiation and has frequently expressed willingness to use its close ties to help resolve any differences over post-referendum issues of South Sudan.
As a witness to Ethiopia’s ardent interest to broker peace, so far the two South Sudan forces had so many times been invited to come to Addis Ababa and make negotiations. Similarly, negotiations carried out in Addis Ababa by the commissioning and arbitration of IGAD and Ethiopia had been more binding and relatively stabilizing than other negotiations conducted elsewhere, until it was broken by Salva Kiir when he sacked Riek Machar and appointed Taban Deng Gai ,saying that Kiir had not been on his position for a long time and the dead line had passed.
Nation says the two factions should refrain from conflict and violence and start their discussions again. It confirmed its stand that both groups should stop warring and implement the Addis Ababa agreement eyed at resolving conflict, reforming volatile situations and revamping security of the country. Besides, Ethiopia is urging both parties to free Juba of unknown armed men that are aggravating the security condition, disarm fighters, create an army composed of all ethnic groups and loyal to the people and sovereignty of the country.
Ethiopia is expressing its unflinching commitment to strengthen regional peace and prevent the potential spillover impact of conflict in S. Sudan. It said it will sustain its proactive effort to stem the tide of violence in South Sudan. Its unwavering and commitment to affect lasting and binding peace deal in South Sudan will continue as far as fruition. Nation believes that the peaceful situation in neighboring countries enables to secure the overall peace and security of the region and individual countries as well.