OPINION: Museveni Has Finally Found Best Solution for Ending War in South Sudan

President Yoweri Museveni shakes hands with Rebecca Garanga; wearing a hat is President Salva Kiir

By Gerard Prunier

The past three weeks have seen an interesting amount of activity on the question of peace in South Sudan.

It all started with the meetings organized by President Museveni in Kampala to try to reconcile/reunite the various strands of the SPLM.

Everybody agreed that it would be a good idea but the enthusiasm was limited particularly when on July 21 the Troïka countries (the US, Great Britain and Norway) decided to suspend their financial help for the implementation (which implementation?) of the August 27, 2015 Peace Agreement.

On that same day, the same Troïka countries warned the South Sudanese government that blocking information news website did not seem very coherent with trying to achieve National Dialogue, Peace & Reconciliation.

These were the last dying gasps of the official, traditional, diplomatic peace process.

After two years of agony, nobody was taking it very seriously any more. And among those who did not, was President Museveni himself.

He had just welcomed in Kampala a vital delegation consisting of Kuol Manyang Juuk (Defense), Special Envoy Nhial Deng Nhial , Mrs Rebecca Nyandeng , widow of JohnGarang , former Chief of Staff Oyai Deng Ajak , Former minister Kosti Manibe , John Luk and SPLM Acting Secretary General Jemma Nunu Kumba, coming from Juba full of his own importance and quite ready for extreme measures, the President Himself, who had the day before proclaimed a state of Emergency over large parts of South Sudanese territory.

There the scenario was not any more trying to “revive” or “revitalize” the dead body of the Peace Agreement. Museveni had a much bolder idea: organize elections, gently accompany Salva Kiir to the exit door and promote Mrs Garang as a unity candidate for the Presidency.

She has all what is needed: she is a Dinka , a respected person, the widow of the Great Man, she strongly dislikes Salva Kiir, her own son is in SPLA-IO , seriously so , not Quisling-like in the mode of Taban Deng Gai and she could drag behind her Deng Oyai Ajak as SPLA (Sorry : SSDF) Chief-of Staff.

Such a unity candidate would blind some of the fears of the ordinary population. Of course there are many obstacles:

  1. How convinced is Salva Kiir that being showed the door is the best strategy?
  2. What is going to be left of the government’s army after it knocks over the Maiwut/Pagak defensive area? Victory could be more destructive than defeat since the Army will be the royal path to power for whoever can get control of it. Could a M7/Rebecca team actually succeed to do it?
  3. The Troïka and international community in general will be a bit shocked by such cavalier lack of principles.

But nothing succeeds like success. Right now the IGAD/AU mediation has produced absolutely nothing.

The question will be how does the Ugandan president’s bright new idea take off the ground? The first few metres of the taking off will be the hardest and it might all end up there and then.

But if the ungainly thing actually starts moving, the international community, which is brain dead on South Sudan, might be seduced into such a scheme which has at least one advantage: it exists. Now, whether it will succeed, that is quite a different cup of tea.

Gerard Prunier is an Independent Consultant on Eastern and Central African affairs and former Director of the French Center for Ethiopian Studies in Addis-Ababa.

Gerard Prunier is an Independent Consultant on Eastern and Central African affairs and former Director of the French Center for Ethiopian Studies in Addis-Ababa.


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