ADDIS ABABA – Regional leaders of Inter Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) are quietly and increasingly worried that president Salva Kiir’s no show at the summit scheduled in Addis Ababa today will make the region’s intention to resolve the conflict in South Sudan obsolete.
Regional leaders of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti are expected to converge in Addis Ababa today in a summit called by the IGAD’s chairman, Haile Mariam desalegn of Ethiopia to deliberate on ending the South Sudan conflict that has displaced millions of refugees to neighbouring countries and put million others in a major risk of famine.
A week ago, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalegn sent out a worrying invitation letter to the IGAD heads of states detailing that the “peace agreement in South Sudan is not functioning and a regional meeting is required”. According to the letter, PM Desalegn wants “the region to speak in one voice to avert the catastrophe” facing South Sudanese. The invitation was sent to the office of the presidency in J1 2 weeks ago.
Juba is concerned with the intention of the summit
Shortly after the delivery of the Prime Minister’s letter to the presidency in Juba, the government was concerned and abruptly convened a closed door meeting involving the two vice presidents, advisers to the president and the new chief of staff of the SPLA. the outcomes of the closed door meeting was that the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s letter was so broad and doesn’t detail much of what has to be discussed at the summit. According to a confidential report given to the Upper Nile Times, the presidency requested the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister to detail the actual agendas of the summit.
The government in Juba were so concerned that if “the region had to speak in one voice” as the Prime Minister’s letter said, it would mean renegotiating a new peace deal or getting rid of their nominated First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai. The government is also worried that the summit would mean forcing President Salva Kiir to accept conditions he can’t refuse while in a foreign country of Ethiopia, which could amount to him being arrested or detained.
As of last Friday, the government in Juba delegated Gen Taban Deng Gai to lead the delegation comprising of 5 ministers, diplomatic corps and aides.
IGAD leaders very concerned
The intention by Juba to dispatch a delegation that excludes President Kiir worried IGAD and this is potentially threatening the cancellation of the summit. IGAD leaders don’t want any other person than President Kiir to represent South Sudan at the summit according to the Ethiopian government’s spokesperson Ato Meles Alem:
“We are expecting the summit to go a head today. we hope it will. but things of concerns are that the President of South Sudan is said to be not among the delegation coming from South Sudan. This is a summit for south sudan and needs every head of state including salva Kiir. we are surprised by the list we have received from the government there that the president will not be among the delegation. the region is interested in bringing peace. we intend to ensure that the crisis in south sudan is ended thats why this summit was called. “- Ato Meles
South Sudan’s conflicted has displaced more than a million people spreading to neighbouring countries as refugees. The UN declared a famine accross the states of Unity and Upper Nile months ago. Donors countries however have been stretched. In May this year, the UN appealed for more than $1 billion dollars worth of food aide to feed hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people accross south sudan and million others in the neighbouring countries.
Source: The Upper Nile Times