The onus is now on President Salva Kiir to succeed in silencing the buzzing gunfire in Sudan and achieve a long-lasting truce after receiving backing from the regional leaders, who had initially appointed his Kenyan counterpart, William Ruto, to lead the mediation.
This is after Kiir met his counterparts from Kenya, Eritrea, Djibouti and Sudan in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the Saudi-African Summit on Saturday, where the situation in Sudan formed the basis of discussion.
A statement by the Presidential Press Unit issued on Sunday noted that sideline meetings focused on ways to resolve the raging war in Sudan, which was conducted without a representative of Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, famously known as Hemedti.
However, it revealed a resounding backing from William Ruto of Kenya, Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, and Sudan’s Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, who is leading the Sudan Armed Forces battling the RSF.
“Foreign Minister Dr. James Pitia Morgan said regional leaders have given their full support to President Kiir to continue engaging the Sudanese political and military leaders to find an amicable solution to the eight-month conflict,” the PPU noted, quoting South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister.
It further added that the minister revealed that President Kiir would soon host meetings with the Sudanese political leaders and the current warring parties to review the situation in the country.
But as Kiir plans to join the list of mediation mechanisms that have yet to bear fruit, policy analysts and activists argue that South Sudan must adopt a different approach for it to succeed where others have failed.
Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director for Progress Organization, argued that the president should appoint a special envoy and technical teams who will be participating in regional dialogues for him to succeed his mediation. It will be a toll order succeeding a one-man army, Yakani argued.
“Kiir need to have a neutral character and special envoy that could be trusted by democrats just like the IGAD has its own special envoy. He needs to appoint a technical team to the African Union, a technical team to Gulfs, and then a technical team to EAC,” Yakani said.
He said President Kiir does not appoint such representatives, Sudanese peace mediation may likely flop.
“These three technical teams will help him consolidate consensus of regional bodies. And our ambassador in New York will lead the international community role. For me, if he does not improve in that setup, he will find it hard to lead this Sudan crisis and may be losing than weight,” he said.
Before this, the IGAD Quartet—a body comprising Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan and Ethiopia—had settled on Kenyan President William Ruto to lead the mediation.
But on June 16, 2023, the Sudanese military government of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan rejected Ruto’s mediation role claiming that he was an ally of Hemedti.
“The Government of the Republic of Sudan announces its rejection of Kenya’s chairmanship of the IGAD Committee concerned with addressing the current crisis in Sudan, given that the Kenyan government and its senior officials have adopted RSF positions, sheltered its elements and provided them with various types of support,” Sudan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement in Arabic.
Ruto later on denied Al-Burhan allegations that he was keeping Hemedti in Nairobi.
The devastating clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which erupted on 15, April, 2023, has killed an estimated 9,000 people in the country and another 5.6 million forced to flee their homes during the conflict and have seek refuge in the neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.
The United States and Saudi-Arabia led peace talks in the Gulf Kingdom, and the Inter-Governmental Authority Development (IGAD) attempts to push for a ceasefire and negotiations between the two conflicting military factions. The two are yet to bear fruits.