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South Sudan Peace: Revitalization of ARCSS


by Steve Paterno

The regional body, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has kick-started the revitalization process of Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) with scheduled consultative meetings taking place among the stakeholders. "Revitalization," is one of those rare terminologies difficult to spell as it is to pronounce. Several versions of spellings the term are already making rounds and so are sounds of various pronunciations. In other words, the term is so much foreign and like its predecessor, the ARCSS, it is open for wider interpretations to suit one’s narrow views.

To some quarters, revitalization of ARCSS simply means an evaluation of the peace implementation. For others, it is the renegotiation of ARCSS. And for some, it has no prospect at all, to begin with.

ARCSS is, of course, a foreign imposed solution to an otherwise what is obviously a South Sudanese problem. The principal signatories of ARCSS that include Riek Machar, Pagan Amum and others referred to it as a ’bad agreement,’ and since then, they were able to pronounce the agreement dead, calling for its replacement as a result. The government, on the other hand, signed ARCSS with a litany of reservations. The government believes that it can only be able to implement what is practically salvageable of it.

Thus far, the government tried its utmost best in the implementation phases. For example, among other provisions of the agreement, the government managed to form the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), established relevant institutions consistent with the agreement, and has the government up and running.

The regional body, though acknowledges the challenges in implementing ARCSS, applauds the government for its efforts and they want to see the government press on with the process as they see fit. Unfortunately, the troika countries, led by the USA, are furious about everything. They scream foul about the entire implementation process and demand for more to be done under strenuous circumstances.

In its part, in order to achieve a lasting peace, the government responded by launching the National Dialogue to run in tandem with the implementation of ARCSS. Despite the fact that all the South Sudanese partners, including international and regional bodies, are fully supportive of the National Dialogue, the Americans are not yet convinced and vow not to support it in all its aspects. The reason is simply that the National Dialogue is not an American invention or initiative. For the Americans and its troika partners, it is either their way or the highway.

Since it must be their way, the "revitalization of ARCSS" is born as yet another American brainchild and brilliant concept of conflict resolution. Some of the most irrelevant and old personalities who were in the first place responsible for the conflict and have since been rendered out of commission are being brought back in front row table to negotiate their ways back to the system they just helped destroy. The cries and plight of the ordinary South Sudanese people are once again relegated to the back seat and neglected. With the revitalization of ARCSS, whatever the interpretation, endless renegotiations have just started, which will potentially trigger the prospect of proliferation of warlordism. This is happening at about just when the conflict is narrowly confined and is drastically dying down.

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at stevepaterno@yahoo.com

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