IGAD Envoy Says Members Have Taken Sides in South Sudan Crisis. But, Revitalization May Work Anyway

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IGAD’s special Envoy to South Sudan Ismail Wais admits that some member states of have taken sides in the country’s four-year civil war.

The Ethiopian diplomat distanced the eight-member bloc from the actions of some member states which he said do not reflect the position of Horn of Africa’s regional organization, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

“Nothing has changed on the position of IGAD. It is to help the people of South Sudan to regain peace in their country, determine democratic governance and claim its right position in this region,” he told voice of America.

Uganda sent troops to South Sudan to back president Salva Kiir against rebels, while Kenya has been on spotlight for deporting dissidents back to Juba. Ethiopia and Sudan have been accused of backing rebels allied to former first vice president Riek Machar.

“No body denies the fact that these countries have their own interests …but standing, cooperating and working with one another for a good faith is what is important,” he added.

Wais said in the 2015 Peace agreement, IGAD member states demonstrated to the International community about their joint position on South Sudan.

A September report by U.N. sanction monitors to the security council also noted that Competing efforts to end South Sudan’s civil war allows the government of Kiir to exploit divisions among international brokers and are unlikely to halt the fighting.

“The hostilities in South Sudan continue against a complex backdrop of competing regional and bilateral initiatives to resolve the conflict,” U.N. sanctions monitors said.

“These efforts suffer from several defects, including inadequate oversight, lack of enforcement and the absence of an integrated, coherent plan for peace.”

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation when it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. War broke out in late 2013 and has forced more than a quarter of its 12 million population have fled their homes.

The regional bloc IGAD in an attempt to address the ongoing crisis initiated the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) in June to revive the 2015 peace accord, which collapsed following fighting in Juba in July 2016 between rebel and government forces in Juba.

IGAD has tried to rhetorically accommodate the demand from South Sudan’s government that the HLRF not renegotiate the agreement, while acknowledging that some of the grievances of the numerous armed and civilian opposition groups (including those excluded from the ARCSS) need to be considered if the conflict is to be meaningfully addressed.

Wais said “IGAD can only play one important role; to bring the South Sudanese together.”