Our displaced brothers from Burundi will be closely monitoring on-going peace process with very keen interest
By Simon Mone
Friday last week was a significant day in South Sudan. President Salva Kiir put pen over the dotted line to offer an olive branch to disgruntled Riek Machar-led rebels.
So this noteworthy day looks like the ‘captain' in Juba is set to steer the ship in the correct course. He appears to have buckled under widespread pressure from the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) set up by regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the rest, to resolve the conflict at his yard peacefully.
Pressure has been piling since a long time ago. Peace agreements that were signed between Machar and Kiir, were repeatedly breached. And a reported 2.3 million people went into hiding plus another 4.6 million left requiring urgent food items.
Finally, there is hope for the people of South Sudan. A power-sharing deal is done. And as a promise to the pact, Mr. Kiir will invite members of Riek Machar group to join his government as they begin to bite their share of the cake.
Ten ministerial positions, earned by way of assault on the ruling government will be the reward. This has been a remarkable act performed by the head of State. From the outlook, citizens of South Sudan now sense an aura of peace and a nice incentive to return home and rebuild from the rubbles.
It now throws the button over to Bujumbura. And open up our brothers in Burundi to the spotlight. Like Kiir, the big man in Burundi too has been nursing a hell of a headache. Since April, after the President made it clear that he will give a go at another term in office, hell broke loose.
There has been nonstop unrest. Footages of happenings on Bujumbura streets left many with tears. Even African union has been prompted to unveil plans of sending peace keeping troops to help prevent more deaths. But there has been defiance by the government in Bujumbura. They say troop deployment in Burundi will amount to an act of ‘invasion'.
Regardless of Bujumbura's position, continuous pouring of blood must stop. And what Juba has shown is that a peaceful settlement of conflict is possible. Provided there is trust between warring sides. Therefore, talks must continue.
Our displaced brothers from Burundi will be closely monitoring on-going peace process with very keen interest. They will be interested in putting an end to the squalor lives and their continuous survival on hand-outs. So that they can go home and resume normal lives.
It means therefore, that those at the negotiating table should pull on the best negotiating skills. Then they can redeem all the refugees who have been forced to find alternate settlements in DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. For now, all eyes will be firmly cast towards President Museveni.
The old wise man is expected to find some time off his campaign trail and deliver the much anticipated thing. Gather the unhappy parties around the table and forge peace. A good example has already been laid down by Juba.
Hopefully authorities in Bujumbura can copy and paste it in Burundi. Assent to a peace agreement, maybe under a power-sharing arrangement. Hopefully, it can work for the unhappy lot in Burundi. It could be the best way of stopping the war.
And to ensure that civilians do not continue to die needlessly while hundreds feel the effect. Neighbouring governments can't afford to turn away as large number of people die. Just like South Sudan, they must mount pressure.
And if peace is not delivered, AU peacekeepers must come in to assist. Ignore the formal acceptance from Burundi. Deploy and push the fighting fellows to end it.
Writer is a civil engineer