My brother why are we fighting each other? That’s a logical question for Salva Kiir and Riek Machar to have asked each other when they met on Friday for their much anticipated dialogue in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
If the two men’s meeting aimed at achieving an honest conversation in which solutions would be advanced, then, like ancient philosophers used to do, asking the simple questions and reasoning gradually to a logical conclusion would be a good approach.
So why are we fighting each other after all we are brothers and allies who only a few years ago fought and defeated a common enemy together? Regardless of who asked, the answers would lay bare the differences between the two men.
So my brother, now that we know why we are fighting, is violence really the best solution to resolving our differences?
Again, level headed reasoning would turn out some good answers and I’m sure, both men would agree that fighting or meting out violence on their own people is not desirable. Both Kiir and Machar would know that the answer to their squabbles has all along not been in firing off artillery but in an authentic conversation.
Then what should we do to restore our brotherhood?
It’s at this point that the real talks on the way forward would have begun. The agenda of the Friday meeting turned out to be immediate cessation, according to the Sudan Tribune, was unclear but Ethiopia government sources had reportedly of hostility to be followed by a permanent peace agreement and formation of a transitional interims government.
There’s no way such an agenda would be agreed on before the two men, between them, answered the questions as to why they’re fighting and whether violence is the answer to their differences.
When Salva Kiir and Riek Machar led the people of South Sudan to independence recently, it was thought that the two men would shed off their warrior’s beards; a sign of peace, and set their focus on new needs before them, top of which was developing their young country and reward the people for decades of endurance.
But alas! President Salva Kiir has never discarded what has now become a signature beard while Machar, until the Friday meeting, had also grown back his goatee on what was normally clean shaven Chin during his time as vice president.
What is the real solution to long lasting peace in South Sudan?
If it’s power, then there’s no need for both men’s forces to be fighting. As it stands, the months of conflict have proven that both men actually have too much power between them and without putting it to proper use, the UN has repeatedly warned, will only lead to Genocide—another Genocide after the one against the Tutsi in Rwanda 20 years ago.
Now that’s no responsible way of exercising power; it’s abuse. Internationally, it would constitute grave war crimes against humanity. Already, sanctions against top leaders on both sides have been mooted; quite unpleasant.
Since December 15 when President Kiir accused Machar of staging a coup, a grueling conflict has prevailed, a conflict both men have had to wait to be coerced.
Ironically, if its power that the two men are fighting for, there’s a fat chance of both men losing it entirely if the idea of forming a transitional government prevails. As it appears, both sides have been accused of war crimes—a very serious indictment for any leader worth his credentials.
Already, the discussion among commentators seems to suggest that the next government would be better without the two men playing a big role.
The reasoning behind that being, Kiir and Machar have lost the mutual respect for each other required to run a government together. While on one hand, the President is not interested in having his former deputy back in office, on the other hand Machar feels that he’s a better president.
With such a hatchet, we wait to see how the stickiest issue of who forms the interim government will be resolved. Hopefully, US Secretary of State John Kerry’s tough talk will continue to keep the parties talking.
If these talks between the two supposed brothers fail to deliver, what should be done?
The logical thing to do is to put the interests of South Sudan’s people ahead of the individual interests of Kiir and Machar whom, if the talks indeed fail, will have proven that they can’t hold power in trust of the South Sudanese people. For now, the region wants Kiir and Machar to walk their talk in Ethiopia.
The writer is a post-graduate student at the Communication University of China