What do we expect of the IGAD Summit,
By Prof. Peter Adwok Nyaba,
June 07, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— The IGAD Chairperson, Ato Haile Mariam Dessalegn, the Prime Minister of the People’s Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is calling a summit to review the progress of implementation of the agreement on resolution of the crisis in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCISS) signed in August 2015. This comes eleven months after its collapse following the eruption of violence in Juba in July 2016. During this period, the ARCISS mediators and guarantors, whether by design or not, ignored Kiir’s blatant violation of the peace agreement until it reached intolerable humanitarian catastrophe.
The ARCISS mediators and guarantors devoid of diplomatic and legal tools for addressing the post July coup staged by President Salva Kiir and Taban Deng Gai preferred the easiest solution namely to isolate the SPLM/A (IO), deny its military logistics and finally incarcerate its leader Dr. Riek Machar in South Africa. The mediators and guarantors hoped that President Salva Kiir would achieve military victory over the SPLM/A (IO). They ignored the most horrendous atrocities and war crimes committed by the regime’s forces, militias and foreign mercenaries until Hon. Priti Patel, the British International Development Secretary in April correctly categorized it as a genocide.
In its offensive launched last January, the Government of South Sudan has recaptured large parts of the areas the SPLM/A (IO) controlled in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states. The offensive, however, failed to achieve complete defeat of the SPLM/A (IO). On the contrary, the rise of Dinka ethnic nationalism with its ideology of hegemony and domination bolstered by apparent tacit support of the region and the international community triggered armed resistance and formation of new SPLM/A (IO) units in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria. President Salva Kiir and the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) read tacit support in the silence of the region and went on target ethnic massacres of civil population in Juba, Wondurba, Kajo-Keji, Yei, Mundri, Wau and Kodok.
What then is new in the situation of South Sudan necessitating IGAD summit? Recently, Dr. Riek Machar has a rare opportunity to address, in a video teleconference, the members of the UN Security Council. This drew the wrath of the government of South Sudan in the person of Taban Deng Gai, the de factor Kiir’s first vice president. This UN Security Council’s gesture is welcome. However, it alone could not have triggered the regional reaction in form of a summit. The regime’s arrogant stubbornness and lack of concern for the deteriorating social, economic and political crisis seem to be paying off. The Archbishop Tutu Fellows of the African Leadership Institute on 25 May 2017 wrote to the IGAD Plus leaders urging them to act. A visiting US Senator threatened to stop US aid to South Sudan until the government stopped the war. These political developments could have freaked the regional leaders’ conscience to prompt a summit.
A dilemma confronts the IGAD Summit. Whether to order a new political process to resolve the conflict or resuscitate ARCISS. Both options require the presence and participation of Dr. Riek Machar, the SPLM/A (IO). This puts the regional leaders in an awkward situation with President Salva Kiir and President Yuweri Museveni, who swore to prevent Dr. Riek Machar becoming leader of the Republic of South Sudan. In order to save face and avoid commitment to another political process or the resuscitation of ARCISS, President Salva Kiir might delegate Taban Deng Gai, who definitely and for obvious reasons will put up a strong resistance to both options. Taban Deng is determined to keep Dr. Riek Machar away from the region. In this President Museveni ensures him the absolute support. This will bring the summit to a dead end.
The IGAD Secretariat will build a final communique based on the report of President Festus Mogae, the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC). The report itself will be nothing but a litany of violations of the ARCISS skewed to put the government, rather than the SPLM/A (IO), in a brighter light although it is known, regionally and internationally, that the government has been on offensive since last January.
In the end the Summit is likely to endorse Kiir’s National Dialogue. It will request the SPLM/A (IO) to renounce violence appoint a delegation to join the dialogue in Juba on the assurance that the Regional Protection Forces, some of whose contingents have arrived Juba, will provide its security for SPLM/A (IO).