The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has directed the warring parties in South Sudan back to the 2015 peace agreement that had been abandoned because of the violent events that followed soon after the agreement.
“The IGAD Summit calls upon all the parties to take urgent steps to draw a concrete plan and timeline to compensate the delay and to revitalize the full implementation of the ARCSS (Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan),” said the regional body on Monday June 12th in Addis Ababa.
The Summit was attended by the presidents of Uganda and Sudan, Yoweri Museveni and Omar al Bashir; Somali Prime Minister, Dijboutian; the Kenyan foreign ministers; the Ethiopian prime minister, and other dignitaries.
The meeting focused on the worsening security situation in South Sudan, which has led to famine and poverty. 3.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes, and more than 1.5 million have escaped to neighboring countries.
IGAD promised to set up a forum where the rivals could discuss ways of restoring a ceasefire and implementing the peace deal. The forum would also develop a “revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period.” Because of “pressing issues in the country,” South Sudanese President Salva Kiir did not attend the Summit.
Fighting in South Sudan broke out at the end of 2013 after President Salva Kiir sacked his rival Riek Machar as vice president, just two years after South Sudan obtained independence from Sudan. The war has split the impoverished country along ethnic lines, often between Kiir’s Dinka group and Machar’s Nuer.
The United Nations has said the violence amounts to ethnic cleansing, and that it risks escalating into genocide. If a peace deal is successful, South Sudan will have the opportunity to save its people by working with international associations to reduce famine and poverty in the country.
The IGAD meeting is perceived as the first regional step toward ending a conflict that has devastated the country, and it provides an opportunity for the international community to revitalize its efforts. However, if IGAD is not prepared to commit the necessary diplomatic resources to following through, the role of peacemaker should shift quickly to the African Union or the United Nations.