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The East African : May 19th 2014
6 KENYA TO TAKE LEAD IN SOLVING IMPASSE The EastAfrican NEWS MAY 17-23,2014 SOUTH SUDAN CRISIS Kiir ignores peace deal, angers negotiators The embattled p≥esident wants to stee≥ the inte≥im govt By BARBARA AMONG Special Correspondent Kiir is testing the patience of key parties in the region, who have stood between him and a rebel advance on his crumbling regime. The EastAfrican has learnt U that his decision to unilaterally postpone next year’s general elections and disregard some aspects of the agreement signed with rebel leader Riek Machar in Addis Ababa last week and counsel from regional leaders have not gone down well in Kampala and Nairobi. President Kiir announced the postponement just a day after a May 11 meeting in Nairobi, where EAC heads of state took him to task over the violation of the Addis Ababa truce, just hours after the two principals had signed ETHIOPIA President Uhuru Kenyatta chats with Rebecca Garang and one of the South Sudan peace negotiators when they called on him at State House, Nairobi. Picture: File the ceasefire agreement. According to sources who attended the meeting, President Kiir blamed Dr Machar’s side for the violations of the May 9 ceasefire. He reportedly told the leaders that Dr Machar was “not in control” of the White Army, despite his claims that the rebels are under his command. The two principals who signed the peace accord have accused each side of failing to exert full control on their respective armies, hardly a week after they signed a cessation of hostilities agree- ment to end the country’s sixmonth-old conflict. The Sunday meeting that lasted just under an hour was meant for Kiir to brief the heads of state on the direct talks and how he plans to implement aspects of the deal that was agreed upon. Kiir insists on leading the interim government, and he told the EAC leaders that as the sitting president of the war-torn country, he was best suited to lead it. He also informed the meeting that he plans to appoint the majority of people in the interim government. Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni expressed concern over Kiir’s intention to singlehandedly steer the interim government and warned that this risked sending the country down the path of self-destruction. “Kiir argued that he need- ed to control the process, because it’s the only way he would be able to run the government and avoid hitches and sabotage that could be caused by the opposition,” said the source. Kenya and Uganda have played a pivotal role in trying to end the conflict in South Sudan, with one leading the diplomatic push while the other backed it with force. According to Kiir, Dr Ma- char should not be rewarded for rebelling. “Dr Machar cannot be entitled to appoint a higher or even equal number of officials to the interim government,” Kiir reportedly said. The regional heads of state suggested that Kiir consult widely on the composition of the interim government. They also warned against the plan to postpone the 2015 elections Ethiopia, which is chairing the negotiations, has openly opposed Uganda’s military approach; this explains Uganda’s absence from the Addis Ababa negotiations. The source intimated that Uganda is no longer holding the bi-weekly meeting to chart a way forward on South Sudan. The meeting, which was being held at Foreign Affairs offices in Kampala, would discuss progress made and intelligence reports and shared there with Ethiopia and Kenya. The meeting however end- ed without any agreement. President Uhuru Kenyatta was tasked to fix a date for another meeting and continue with the diplomatic push. In the agreement signed last week, the parties had agreed that a transitional government of national unity would offer the best chance for the people of South Sudan to take the country forward; and that such a government would oversee government functions during a transitional period, implement critical reforms, as negotiated through the peace process, a permanent constitutional process and guide the country to a new election. It was also agreed to en- sure the inclusion of all South Sudanese stakeholders in the peace process and the negotiation of a transitional government of national unity, in order to ensure broad ownership of the agreed outcomes. nilateral action by South Sudan President Salva Stakeholders include the president, Dr Machar, the SPLM leaders, former detainees, political parties, civil society and faith-based leaders. While South Sudan govern- ment officials have outrightly violated the peace process, little has been done by the regional leaders to ensurethat the warring parties respect the truce. Observers note that Presi- dent Kiir and Dr Machar are taking advantage of the slow response from the regional leaders and the absence of peace enforcement troops. “Where are the troops? The Igad or UN troops need be on the ground by now if the Addis Ababa peace deal is to hold; minus boots on the ground, the fighting will continue,” said David Pulkol, Uganda’s former external security organisation boss. A week after the deal was signed and two weeks after a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign affairs ministers of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, not much has been achieved. What next? The Igad Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) is yet to confirm if there was a violation and the nature of the fighting that has occurred since the truce was signed on Friday, though UN officials confirm heavy fighting around Bentiu. “It was clear to all that the first day or two would be the most dangerous for the ceasefire: Why weren’t preparations for deployment made even before the signing of the ceasefire? Why was the MVM not fully ready to begin actual deployment the moment the agreement was signed, or first thing Saturday (May 10) morning?” asked Eric Reeves US-based researcher on Sudan and South Sudan. Despite promises to pro- vide critical logistical support to the proposed 5000-strong Igad force, the Troika of the US, Norway and UK, are yet to make good their promises. Uganda’s International Af- fairs Minister Okello Oryem said the region is waiting for approval from the UN, which is not forthcoming. The regional leaders are fac- Machar cannot be entitled to appoint a higher or even equal number of officials to the interim government.” President Kiir of South Sudan ing the dilemma of whether to use force or continue with the peace initiatives that have failed over the months. While Kenya focuses on diplomatic means to end the war, Uganda, which took the military approach to the war has opted to stay away from the peacemaking-process. Last week’s meeting left the responsibility to resolve the impasse in the hands of Kenya.
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