Sanctions loom for Juba if deal is not signed

Saturday April 18 2015

US President Barack Obama has set the stage for sanctions and military intervention in South Sudan by declaring that the war in the country threatens Washington’s interests in East Africa.

Diplomatic sources said such a declaration usually signals a move by the White House to seek approval by the Congress for interventions in a foreign country as happened in Libya, Sudan, Iraq, and, lately, Syria.

This, they said, is behind the pressure for President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and his rival Riek Machar to sign a binding peace agreement without further negotiations or be sidelined in the search for stability in the country.

The EastAfrican has established that the US, the UK and Norway, the have taken a position that the two have to sign a deal immediately, some sources said as early as today, April 18, or be coerced to.

A revelation by Juba that it had exhausted its foreign reserves has prompted fears in the UK, US and Norway, the Troika who fund the Addis Ababa process that a second failed state in the region after Somalia could become another breeding ground for terrorists. The three countries are now pushing for restoration of stability in the country, starting with the signing of a peace accord.

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is understood to have briefed Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on the latest plans of Troika during a visit to Nairobi on Wednesday last week. Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the meeting but did not divulge the details.


The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) has annoyed Juba by delaying the talks until the conference of rebels which started on Wednesday in Pagak, an Upper Nile town bordering Ethiopia, ends.

“Why is the international community so keen on rewarding rebellion?” South Sudan ambassador to Kenya Marion Deng asked. “Peace building is a process that does not have deadlines unless they want to create another Libya.”

Dr Machar’s representative in Kenya, Adel Sandrai, said a forced agreement would not succeed because the people of South Sudan needed a total transformation.

“Any compromises must come from the South Sudanese themselves, not an imposed deal,” said Mr Sandrai.

The Troika is proposing a replication of the protocol-by-protocol-approach similar to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between South and North in which the parties signed on the agreed items before moving to the contentious ones. Despite the expected unspecified action by the US, South Sudanese nationals say that the solution must be homegrown.

“As much as South Sudanese appreciate the efforts by the region, Africa and the international community to bring peace to the country, they are trying to treat a cancer with Panadol,” said John Andruga Duku, a former South Sudan head of mission in Kenya. He added that while Juba recognised the security concerns of the US, an imposed deal would just postpone the underlying factors to the conflict.

The two parties have so far agreed on the composition of the Transitional Government of National Unity of 27 Cabinet ministers. But the power balance remains contentious.

The last deal by the two parties stated that the country would go for two vice-presidents to accommodate the opposition and the government was to get 60 per cent of seats in the TGNU, SPLM-n-Opposition 30 per cent and the former political  detainees 10 per cent.

The Troika has come up with a new arrangement giving the government 40 per cent, the rebels 40 per cent, former detainees 10 per cent and other political parties 10 per cent. But Mr Duku says that Juba will not accept anything below 60 per cent because that is rewarding rebellion.

Juba has dispatched the larger Equatoria governors to tour the region and try to talk to those who have joined the rebellion. Equatoria Governors Louis Lobong Lojore (Eastern Equatoria), Joseph Bangazi Bagosoro (Western Equatoria) and Clement Wangi Konga (Central Equatoria) were in Nairobi mid-week to reach out to South Sudanese in the diaspora. They headed to Uganda on Thursday on the same mission.

The reason for this move is that out of the three larger regions — Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr-el-Ghazal — Equatoria has been peaceful even though the South Sudan rebellion called Anyanya I led by Gen Joseph Lagu started in Equatoria.

The EastAfrican managed to speak to Equatoria Governor, Louis Lobong Lojore, who noted that  the world should not lose faith in Addis Ababa, arguing that it is upon the region and the international community to guide South Sudan, which is scarred by a violent past.

“Our country has more than 60 tribes, who have fought for over 50 years, are traumatised, militarised, with arms in the hands of civilians.

The only thing they have known is solving their problems through the gun. I appeal to the international community, especially the region to help us transform our society,” said Mr Lojore.

In the meantime, the Addis Ababa talks hang in the balance, given that there is a possibility that the rebels may come out from their Pagak convention with their position hardened. The government on the other hand is determined to take advantage of the dry season to try to solve the conflict militarily.