NEW NEWS: Yet Another ‘Addisagreement’…!
Today, October 3, IGAD mediators abruptly called off the South Sudanese Peace Process in the capital of the Amhara Province of Bahir Dar in Ethiopia. The announcement was made late this evening. So the delegates will all be sent packing tomorrow (October 4) for another two weeks. The reason is obvious. The parties have failed to reach a common consensus on power sharing protocols. There is serious angling and wrangling over the powers of the top executives, namely: President and Prime Minister, as put by one of the negotiators at the venue this evening. “It is a dead end once again. Talks adjourned and areas of differences referred to the two Principals to thresh out in a summit towards the end of next week. Talks shall officially resume again on October 16th, 2014!” exclaimed Mr. Aggrey Idri, an SPLM-IO delegate at Bahir Dar. Whereas the mediators and negotiators have reached the conclusion on some protocols such as federalism and Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), the devil is in the details. There is a fight over who should have how much powers, and what powers in the TGoNU between the President and the Premier. The Government of South Sudan under Kiir wants the president to continue as the head of government with more executive powers as usual. In other words, the government wants a presidential system of governance. This is not the case with the rebels (SPLM-in Opposition). They want a Parliamentary System, just like the one of the host country, Ethiopia. This is a system whereby the Prime Minister is given more executive powers while the president plays ceremonial powers as the head of the state, not of government. This stalemate reached after a lot of hope and optimism is a breaking news of disappointment to the eagerly waiting people of South Sudan and the world over. However, some hope is restored in the sense that the Two Principals, President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Dr. Riek Machar, will converge in Addis Ababa again on October 11, to discuss the contentious issues under IGAD’s Heads of State and Government as usual. Since the lull created in the talks is about the jobs of the two Big Guys, it is expected that they will have to thresh it out by themselves. Funny enough, they are coming to face each other on a one-on-one basis. From the previous sessions, the two had never had it face to face, especially on the issues of their job, which sparked off this war of political and ethnic attrition. From that point, the delegates will get back to the venue and continue from where the Principals have stopped. That means they are to come in to refresh the talks’ momentum as usual over the last 9 months. Nevertheless, it is still feared that the habitual two-week holiday, which has cut short by 10 days the 45 days given by IGAD to the final round of the talks as from August 25. The talks’ deadline would officially come to an end on October 13, had the two warring parties and their observers not come to a standstill on the negotiation table in Bahir Dar.
This was seen coming last week when Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth, who doubles as the Deputy Chief Negotiator of the Government Delegation and Minister for Information and Broadcasting; also a Spokesman for the Government openly criticized IGAD’s special envoys (mediators) and called for the replacement of the Chief Mediator, Amb. Seyoum Mesfin, with his colleague, Lazarus Sumbeiywo, a Kenyan, on the mediation board.
“The mediation which was managed by General Sumbeiywo was more fragile than this one, but he managed it properly and we succeeded. He brought peace to South Sudan and brought independence.” Makuei emphasized in favour of one of the 3 mediators of IGAD in a consultative conference in Nairobi on September 30, 2014. “For Lazarus to be put under somebody who has never mediated any process even in his homestead, that was wrong. This is a misuse of the seat of IGAD.And this is why we are unable to achieve peace in South Sudan upto now. So, we are appealing to the region, especially Kenya Government.”
Accompanied by the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Bashir Bandi, Michael Makuei also called for the change of venue from Ethiopia to Kenya. Kenya being the venue where the 2005 Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed as mediated by the same General Sumbeiywo, Hon. Makuei had more reasons for bashing the Ethiopian mediator as well as the venue. He claimed Ethiopia is not neutral and the Chief Mediator is weak, or has not enough experience as a negotiator. However, though the reason that caused Hon. Makuei to unilaterally announced that very disrupted idea is not yet known, many analysts have faulted the government as playing another delaying tactics towards dry season offensives, when they are expected to be efficient in the war zones. This is the same accusation leveled against the rebels on the onset of the wet seasons. Until then, President Salva Kiir, whom the Makuei’s delegation came to meet in Nairobi on his way from New York on the 29th of September, has not reacted to his Minister’s ranting at the mediation body and the peace talks funders, TROIKA group, among others. The parties, given the outcome of the October 11 meeting between Kiir and Riek, will be called back on October 16 to continue with the talks when the stumbling blocks are removed by their bosses.