Fighting between the government forces and those of the rebels backing former vice president Riek Machar in the Republic of South Sudan has seen over 1,000 people die and over 200,000 displaced.
Regional leaders have been working to see to it that the conflict in South Sudan is resolved. Some are already talking about the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) as it was in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Again, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is categorically against such a move it terms as rewarding law breakers. Some think that shall GoSS consent to GNU, it’ll would mark the end of Machar. They refer to what happened to former premiers Raila Odinga (Kenya) and Morgan Tsvangirai (Zimbabwe) or what forced RENAMO in Mozambique to go back to the guerrilla war. What worked in Kenya or Zimbabwe can’t be necessarily the solution to the South Sudan conflict.
In dealing with such a conflict, care must be taken regarding the issues to begin with. One of those things is to understand the feelings of GoSS and the core issue that led to fighting. Another factor is to make sure that the mediators carefully touch on power dynamics, building trust, credibility and offering chance for the parties to conflict to vent. Thereafter, there must follow the modality to be used after it is agreed upon by two parties to conflict. Such efforts are important at least to lay a foundation for negative peace that will enable ceasefire. After securing negative peace, it will be possible for mediators to start all essentials such as peacemaking, peace building and peacekeeping if need be. This is a process that can take years.
Rebuilding sound relationship in the country like South Sudan needs a multifaceted approach. This is why the International Criminal Court (ICC) needs to rein in aiming at creating fear and sanity for both sides. If ICC starts to investigate atrocities committed against humanity and all other related crimes, such a move will make the protagonists become aware of what can become a bad end for them. True, such a move will curtail their urge to cause more harm knowingly that thereafter they’ll face justice.
Given that politics seems to start hitting the snag just from the beginning, ICC needs to zero in so as to create sanity and awareness that the end of this dirty game is likely to land somebody in jail.
By Nkwazi Mhango
The author can be reached at [email protected]