Magazine article New African

Visceral Notes on an Ongoing Crisis

Magazine article New African

Visceral Notes on an Ongoing Crisis

Article excerpt

In 1972 after the Addis Ababa Agreement, Tag Elkhazin, who is Sudanese, led the team that constructed the Wau Brewery in Bahr El Ghazal, the biggest project of its kind in South Sudan. When it was finished and test-run, President Nimeiri declared Sudan a "dry" country, effectively banning the sale and consumption of alcohol. He has been in South Sudan ever since, only physically relocating to Canada in August 2014.

My social relations with South Sudanese Politicians and community leaders goes across the board of both government and opposition. I have always felt that the South Sudanese had a valid case in fighting for their independence from the North. Little did I know that they will blow it up, he says.

Currently Associate Professor at the Institute of African Studies at Carleton University in Ontario, Canada, and lead consultant of the Sub-Sahara Centre, Tag Elkhazin gives his assessment of the current conflict in South Sudan.


On the latest outbreak of fighting:

"What happened in Juba on July 7th and afterwards is the delayed unintended negative impact of [the IGAD's power sharing agreement] of August 17th 2015. It is not surprising. More surprising may be that South Sudan took this long to erupt. If the Addis Ababa peace agreement is the devil in the tragedy of July 7th, [First Vice President] Machar provided the trigger. Machar only has himself to blame for what happened to him at the Presidential Palace in Juba, and its aftermath. He came to the meeting with President Kiir and [Second Vice President] Wani Iga at the J1 residence with 21 4X4 vehicles each carrying 22 soldiers fully armed and an ambulance that was also full of weapons. That intimidated Kiir's bodyguards. Machar himself, according to Kiir [in a TV interview on July 21st], had a personal handgun on him.

"No one could have controlled the situation. And now there is more blood on the hands of both Kiir and Machar.

"But we must allude here to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights dated March 11th 2016. That report concluded that not only do Machar and Kiir and their forces have blood on their hands but more significantly, their roles in the current conflict meet eight criteria out of 11 in the Rome Statute crimes against humanity.

"For Machar in particular, maintaining that he has control over his forces, could very well work against him. One wonders how many of the 850 generals in the two armies also have blood on their hands. 10 million people cannot be held to ransom for the sake of two spent politicians still seeking power over the dead bodies of their people.

"It is not only the death toll and property destruction that was left behind from those five days, it is the mass exodus of everyone who could have possibly served South Sudan and South Sudanese. No one knows yet what is happening to the flow of oil. No democratic government will even dare to engage in development in South Sudan now or in the near future. It is emerging that IGAD is attempting to get President Kiir and Dr. Machar at the table for the IGAD Summit. For Kiir, attending the Summit would be a mistake, in my view. With Machar in the room, it will be tantamount to recognising his legitimacy.

"Among the long-term consequences of the five-day duel is the fragmentation of the leadership of the SPLM/A-IO, the flight of Machar and call by the SPLM/A-IO for foreign forces to come as a buffer. The AU has suggested 14,000 of them to have a total of 26,000 peacekeepers/buffer in South Sudan.

"Regardless of the jargon and the semantics, they would be there primarily to guard Rick.

"The priority now must be justice for the South Sudanese. There will be no progress in ending the conflict without the leaders accounting for their actions. Regrettably, South Sudan is now surrounded by a bunch of international and regional actors who mask their inability to respond to the crisis by only paying lip-service to it. …

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