How To Make South Sudan's Peace Deal Work
Kiir and Machar -- the world is watching
On Friday following tremendous international pressure and threats of U.S. sanctions against them individually South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar signed a deal meant to end civil war, provide immediate relief to victims and lead to a transitional government.
The deal has a better chance of being translated into concrete measures than the initial ceasefire agreement signed also in Addis Ababa the Ethiopian capital. This is because for the first time Kiir and Machar actually met face-to-face to conclude the peace deal in front of representatives of major governments from around the world.
President Kiir now knows that he can't defeat Machar militarily even with the assistance of Uganda's malevolent ruler Gen. Yoweri Museveni and his army, having been repulsed several times.
Machar also knows that Kiir's supporters, including the U.S., won't allow him to march into Juba and seize power.
What's more, Kiir's government is paralyzed since Machar's fighters control many of the oil fields and can disrupt production from all the remaining ones.
The two sides need each other.
Sadly, the killings became ethnically-targeted pitting Kiir's ethnic Dinkas against Machar's ethnic Nuers.
Negotiations for a transitional government could be contentious. How will power be divided? Who will lead the transitional authority as the constitution is revised before new elections? Who will hold powerful ministries such as the defense, internal affairs, foreign affairs, and finance?
Who will control the armed forces? Will the fighting forces be reintegrated?
These are delicate issues that could still upset the deal.
But the tragic events since mid-December when the conflict erupted, with tens of thousands of civilians killed, and several hundreds of thousands displaced, provides a sobering lesson.
Kiir had accused Machar of plotting to topple him. Machar denied the accusations and claimed Kiir feared defeat in the upcoming 2015 presidential election and launched a pre-emptive strike to eliminate him.
South Sudan's two leaders must not allow the country to disintegrate into the kind of blood-letting we now see in the Central African Republic.
And outsiders who have been exploiting the crises, such as Uganda's Gen. Museveni, must allow the South Sudan leaders to deal with each other without interference. Museveni should pull his army out of South Sudan and this must be replaced by a neutral peacekeeping and monitoring force.
Any side that violates the ceasefire and causes the deaths of any more people in South Sudan must be subjected to severe consequences.
The country was only formed in 2011, when its people elected to secede from the Sudan, after decades of bloody fighting.
Kiir and Machar must now rise to the occasion as the whole world watches.