South Sudan’s problems are essentially political, linked to effects of fragile institutions, the head of IGAD Special Envoys for the crisis in South Sudan, Seyoum Mesfin, has said.
At the opening of the second round of negotiations for political dialogue and national reconciliation in South Sudan yesterday in Addis Ababa, the mediation head attributed the political crisis to the failure of leadership of the government and the SPLM.
“The gap between the demands of the people and what the government was able to deliver was wide,” he said.
“Disillusionment with corruption and inadequate governance was high.
“The leadership failed to see this and to respond with a coherent policy and visible commitment to address issues of peace, security and development in a coordinated way.
“The problem was not confined to government and governance, the SPLM, the party that spearheaded the struggle for independence, failed to adapt sufficiently or effectively to the circumstances of independence.
“It made no real effort to implement the changes needed.”
Ambassador Mesfin added that when natural resources like oil are added to the equation, the challenges threaten to expand beyond internal actors and involve outsiders with more resources and power.
He stressed the need for leaders of South Sudan to avoid such a scenario as it can complicate the crisis.
Ambassador Mesfin said the region and the international community had also failed South Sudan in its infancy:
“We knew of the dangers and the possible pitfalls facing the Government of South Sudan; did we warn them adequately when we saw them miss opportunities to resolve the growing crisis? Did we offer advice, share the experiences of our own crises? Did we offer to mediate? Clearly whatever we did was not enough and we too need to accept that we collectively failed to assist the people and leadership of South Sudan at an earlier stage.”
The head of IGAD Special Envoys urged the parties to the conflict to abandon a wartime frame of mind and encouraged all South Sudanese stakeholders to set out on a major course of transforming the country’s key institutions.
He also called on the international community to render immediate support and engagement to address, he said, the “looming humanitarian disaster” and help the negotiators achieve a successful and inclusive political dialogue.
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