By Joe Odaby
South Sudan News
Juba — January 22 … In Adis-Ababa, Ethiopia, negotiations between the South Sudanese Government led by President Kiir and representatives of the rebel forces of Riek Machar continue without a breakthrough. Machar’s camp refused to negotiate the only issue of importance to the South Sudanese delegation – a cease-fire that will stop the suffering of, and casualties among, innocent civilians.
Influential think-tank The Fashoda Institute has commented that civilians are kept “hostage” to Machar’s “power hungry demands from Juba”.
Meanwhile the use of child soldiers by Riek Machar in his so called “White Army” has caused international condemnation and a stern letter from UK legislators. Satellite imagery collected by George Clooney’s Sentinel Project clearly show the massive destruction in Bor inflicted when Machar’s forces were present in Bor and that the buildings and shacks were destroyed by people and vehicles on the ground rather than government’s artillery fire (no craters and signs of fire). UN photographs taken on the ground confirm the senseless destruction by Machar’s rampaging forces.
Meanwhile, regional governments were increasingly petrified by the possibility that tribes and other sectors in their own states be inspired or assisted by Machar’s coup attempt. Most directly threatened and thus ready to act is Uganda. Ugandan involvement was a result of Kampala’s apprehension about the dire impact that certain developments in South Sudan might have on the national security and stability inside Uganda. Kampala acknowledged that Ugandan “army has marched into South Sudan” in order to “protect Uganda’s own security and economic interests.”
Other IGAD leaders keep urging the rebels in South Sudan to put down arms and engage in a dialogue with President Kiir. “Machar’s coup attempt – futile and doomed as it might have been – reminded all African leaders of the looming threats to the African political system”, notes the Fashoda Institute. “
Perhaps, a blessing in disguise of the Machar coup attempt will be a reminder to all African leaders and government of the urgent imperative to focus on tribe-blind state building and development reforms for the future”.