In Defense of the IGAD-led Mediation Original Position on Multi-stakeholder Negotiations

The South Sudan crisis has invited many parallel peace initiative alongside the IGAD-led mediation, such as the Arusha Intra-party process, the Khartoum process and the less talked about Entebbe meetings. In addition to siphoning off scarce resources and eroding the necessary sense of urgency and shared purpose, these parallel processes also produced widely divergent end states. Some of them undermined and even contravened the IGAD-led mediation. Some proposed military intervention as a solution, while others focused on restoration of SPLM/A intra-party unity. In direct opposition to IGAD’s choice of a constitutive multi-stakeholder dialogue most actors, particularly Western powers, pressurized for negotiations limited to the two warring parties led by President Kiir and former Vice President Dr Machar.
The institution of IGAD Plus Mediation is the latest mediation effort includes heavy weights under the Troika (US, UK, and Norway), China, five AU Peace and Security Council members representing all regions of Africa (Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, Chad, and Rwanda), EU and UN. Despite the term ‘Plus’, in this brief piece, I advance reasons why IGAD should remain in the driver’s seat and why it should return to its original position of settling the South Sudan crisis through a constitutive multi-stakeholder negotiation process. Let us carefully examine these parallel initiatives and their chances of success, and why I support the IGAD-led multi-stakeholder dialogue. For some, support for President Salva Kiir was considered as a solution to the problem. This approach treats the symptom.
IGAD needs to stick to its old multi-stakeholder approach to peace negotiations, regardless of the time it required to achieve a successful outcome. It would be far more beneficial to devote as much time as is required to ensure a durable peace than to settle for a fragile face-saving deal that holds only until the parties arrive in Juba. It may take a long time, but as happened in Somalia, international and other regional forces will eventually come to realize that only a multi-stakeholder peace process holds out hope of a durable peace.
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