World / East Africa
Saturday, 17 Dec 2016 20:45 EAT
On 15 December 2013, just two-and-a-half years after South Sudan gained independence, renewed fighting broke out in the country that resulted in thousands of deaths and mass displacement. The UN peacekeeping mission UNMISS struggled to contain the fighting, and despite the subsequent Agreement on the Resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) signed in Addis Ababa in August 2015, renewed conflict broke out in Juba this July.
Following an incident allegedly involving South Sudanese troops at Terrain compound, an internal UN inquiry criticized UNMISS military command, headed by Kenyan Lieutenant General Johnson Ondieki. As a result, the Lt. Gen Ondieki was dismissed, trigerring a series of events that saw Kenya withdraw its entire peacekeeping contingent in protest.
Due to these events, civil society, government officials and representatives from transnational organisations gathered in Nairobi this week to discuss the situation in South Sudan. The event was convened by the Rift Valley Institute, a UK-based think tank, and the forum was aimed at bringing out the underlying issues.
Mr Peter Biar Ajak, a renowned civil society activist from South Sudan, regretted that Kenya had to pull out of the peace search process at this stage when South Sudan government needed Kenya’s input the most. "I have known Kenya as a very calculative country when it comes to its foreign interests, so I don’t understand why they are pulling out of a process they have invested so much and for so long," said the activist.
However, there are those who feel that the solution to South Sudan will have to come from the people of South Sudan Republic itself, by helping to make all parties come together and tolerated each in the peace talks sessions. Priscilla Nyagoah Tut from Amnesty International feels that the talks need to be resuscitated by supporters of both parties to salvage the country from sinking to genocide as many international crisis experts are warning. "In 2011, the people of South Sudan felt that power had been restored back to them, they felt so great than ever before, we have not lost it though we can still rekindle the vision once more," said Ms Nyagoah.
John Prendergast, founder of Enough Project, thinks that the international community hasn’t done much in their effort to follow up on those named in the report as having stashed millions of cash in foreign accounts. Mr Prendergast says the first priority of the new U.N. envoy to Sudan should be to re-start the stalled talks and secure the release of former vice president Riak Machar, who is allegedly put under house arrest in South Africa.
According to information on the U.N's website, Mr Shearer, who was appointed by the Secretary General last week, was until his new job a member of the New Zealand Parliament. Before that he had served as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) (2007-2009).
Earlier, he had held several senior positions with the UN, including heading of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon, senior humanitarian adviser to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and Chief of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Belgrade, among others.
The writer, an experienced journalist, is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press