Peace falters in Addis as warring parties struggle to save faces amid Deadlock

Posted: May 21, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Emmanuel Ariech Deng, HLRF, Junub Sudan, PaanLuel Wël

Chances for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan falters at the HLRF in Addis Ababa as warring parties struggle to save faces amid crushing Deadlock and tight deadline

By Emmanuel Ariech Deng, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Emmanuel Ariech Deng

Emmanuel Ariech Deng is the PaanLuel Wel Media (PW) correspondent covering the HLRF of the 2015 peace process in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

Monday, May 21, 2018 (PW) — Chances for a timely conclusion and peacefully resolution of the raging conflict in South Sudan are faltering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as the final day of the IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) of the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) is marked by a crushing deadlock, characterized by partisan blame gaming and political haggling among the warring parties.

As of this evening, IGAD, the East African regional bloc that has been mediating the peace process since December 2013, has pushed HLRF until tomorrow, giving more time for the secretariat to complete its work on the report of South Sudan Council of Churches in conclusion of its consultation process that has been going on for five days in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa building in the heart of Addis Ababa city.

The negotiation file is still with the Church Group until tomorrow to bring the parties to the plenary consensus. There are reports that the IGAD council of ministers will take over the decision to adjourn or extend the talks by tomorrow. The media was lately informed today in the evening to convene tomorrow at nine for a detailed report.

Speaking during the press briefing this evening, Hon. Michael Makwei Lueth, the government spokesperson, had this to say: “Yes, this morning the intra-South Sudanese dialogue continued with its task and yesterday, the two sub-committees of governance and security had presented their reports to the leadership committee.”

Hon. Makwei added that “the leadership committee sat this morning and look into all these documents and was clear that there is some progress which had been made in governance as well as for security arrangement. The leadership committee, headed by his Grace Archbishop Enock Tombe, this afternoon made a presentation to the plenary and the parties and the document was prepared by the parties so that it is signed tomorrow.”

Hon. Makwei said that the document was read out but could not be completed by the secretariat and it was therefore decided that the warring parties would meet tomorrow at 9am so that the document is signed, together with another document on governance, ceasefire and transitional security arrangement.

Hon. Makwei informed the public that the leadership committee will meet and brief IGAD Council of Ministers on the progress which has been made, and that the briefing will also be attended by his Grace the Archbishop and his team, comprising of the church leaders from the South Sudan Council of Churches.

Hon Makwei concluded: “By grace of God by tomorrow, I believe that we will be in a position to sign some of these documents and thereafter, it will be clear to us as to whether this will constitute the end of the day or should there be any extension; that is what took place today.”

Early in the day, the security committee member of the South Sudan Opposition alliance, Mr. Yien Mathew, had vehemently disputed media reports that there has been no tangible progress made on governance issues, adding that their position was to address the root cause of the conflict.

Speaking to the press, Mr. Yien Mathew said, “the positions that we have already now is a compromised positions; we came in the first phase, we discussed, we were seriously a variant, we have now come to a level where we are much closer to each other than before.”

Mr. Yien Mathew urges the public to be more understandable on the intractability of the serious issues under discussion in Addis Ababa. He said that the leaders of the warring parties would have easily compromised if they were dealing with individual issues.

“However, we not discussing any personal issues here, we are discussing the issues of the land, principles, we are discussing the provisions on the basis of the situation, the reality, so nothing to be compromised,” he insisted.

When he was asked why the warring parties have not arrived at any final agreement five days down the line, he confidently said that the major problem is that some people are just after power, clinging onto power at all cost. He claimed that his group is not interested in power but only in addressing the fundamental root causes of the December 2013 conflict.

This disappointing failure by the warring parties at the negotiating table in Addis Ababa to strike a political compromise and sign a final peace agreement after five days of partisan wrangling till the deadline of 21 May has raised the prospects for IGAD to unveil their own revised peace proposal for South Sudan’s warring parties to sign.

“IGAD is taking over with a new proposal tomorrow as church’s attempt has failed to capture signatures,” said Jon Pende Ngong, a Nairobi-based South Sudanese political activist who is currently in Addis Ababa as part of the South Sudan Civil Society Forum at the HLRF.

“IGAD has proposed during the recent consultations that they will come up with a proposal, so members of the delegations proposed that South Sudanese parties be given a couple of days to try to move forward,” said Angelina Jany Teny, the wife of the rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar, who is also a leading member of the SPLM-IO delegation at the HLRF.

The 2015 ARCSS was imposed on the warring parties after they had failed to conclude and sign a final peace agreement on their own. It is not clear if IGAD, with the support of the international community, would resort to the same methodology of imposed peace accord on the warring parties.

This round two of the second phase of the revitalization forum was officially convened on the 17th of May, 2018, following the failure of the first phase of the HLRF to achieve a revitalized peace agreement, end war and usher in peace and reconciliation to the suffering people of South Sudan.

According to IGAD, major outstanding issues relating to governance and security arrangements remain to be resolved among the warring parties. Among the remaining issues in relation to governance are (1) composition of the revitalized transitional government, (2) structure of the revitalized transitional government, (3) responsibility/power sharing, (4) number of states, and (5) size and composition of the revitalized parliament.

Regarding the security arrangements, the warring parties have failed to strike a compromise on the following key areas: (1) time-frame for reintegration/unification of forces and approach to the formation of one national army, (2) security for Juba during the transitional period, (3) exact details on the demilitarization of civilian centers, (4) exact details on the cantonment of forces, and (5) security sector reform or establishment of new security arrangements.

The international community remains optimistic that peace negotiation is the best path of ending the war and bring about the long lasting peace, security and economic stability in the war-torn South Sudan. However, the 2015 peace agreement negotiated by the regional bloc have brought no peace to South Sudan. Therefore, IGAD is under tremendous pressure from the people of South Sudan and the international community not to repeat the same mistakes that doomed the 2015 peace agreement.

South Sudan was plunged into a deadly civil war in December 2013 following a leadership contest in the ruling SPLM party when President Kiir and his then deputy, Dr. Riek Machar, failed to agree on the best method of conducting party election for the post of the chairmanship. Winning the post of the chairperson of the ruling SPLM party is widely seen as an assured way of clinching the presidency.

The five year old civil war has displaced over four million people, crippled the economy, frayed social fabric and exacerbated underdevelopment in a nation besieged by conflict for the best part of its nascent existence.

Reporting by PaanLuel Wel Media Correspondent, Emmanuel Ariech Deng, at the IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Editing by PaanLuel Wel from Juba, South Sudan.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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