President Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Dr. Riek MacharFrom the Outside Looking in
A short while ago, in an incident that involved the two boys. This brought to fore two issues: one, the status of many of the South Sudanese who throng Kampala, escaping the war in their country; and, two, what the position of the settlement of the South Sudan political impasse is at.
In the West Nile districts and even in the Western districts of Isingiro and Hoima, the status of the South Sudanese refugees is clear. They have been settled in the refugee camps, where they get all the benefits that refugees are given according the the United Nations charter. And they are clearly identified as such.
Not so for the South Sudanese who have settled in Kampala and its environs.
So when the South Sudanese students go to school in these areas, they clearly merge into the local communities. When an incident like the Sonde one takes place, it immediately brings into the attention of the Ugandans the violence that is taking place in South Sudan, as a result of the political conflict between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Dr. Riek Machar.
For 20 months now, the two protagonists have failed to agree on a formula for peace in their country, despite seven peace agreements signed by them sponsored and monitored by the Inter Governmental Authority and Development (IGAD) organized by the African Union (AU). Every time an agreement is signed, the ink does not dry on the paper before the armies of the foes go to ground to fight it out.
Both Kiir and Machar, products of the internecine civil war in the country, have split the former rebel army the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which is now acrually varying against itself. Machar has boosted his side with the creation of ‘White Army’, predominantly from his Loul-Nuer group.
Kiir, on the other hand, is served by the Dinka section of the SPLA and an infusion of fighters from the Madi group of his vice president, John Wani Iga. Into this, Kiir, as the legitimate president, also got the support of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), as a protocol signed by him and the Uganda Government.
This had led to the hardening of the political positions of Kiir and Machar, to the extent that each of them has believed that a military solution is the better option. In the process, more than 250,000 people, have been killed in the conflict and over two million displaced both internally, and others as refugees, mainly to Uganda. The human suffering is unquantifiable!
At the on-going celebrations to mark the UN 70th anniversary of its founding, and as an assessment of the global peace situation, South Sudan, has become an obvious embarrassment to the global body at its failure to bring its newest state to a peaceful settlement.
Whereas, the UN Western nations have previously been content to send a modicum of peace keepers and food items, it obvious that the effort is not enough. And so, at the UN, Britain has come clearly to commit its troops on the ground to nudge the settlement of the crisis to another level. By so doing, the military equation is rapidly changing on the ground.
There is a situation where the British troops will easily come to confrontation with the Kiir’s section of the SPLA that involves the UPDF. And because Britain is one of the main Western donors to Uganda, it would be discomfiting, to say the least, if there are casualties on the British side caused by the Kiir grouping.
That has created situation where there has been an announcement by the UPDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, that Uganda is considering withdrawing its support from Kiir.
At the other end, it would be unbecoming if the Machar forces attacked the British troops, when one considers that, easily the exploitation of the oil, for which these two are fighting for, would benefit hugely from an infusion of British technology and finance.
It is now possible to see that the coming in of Britain, markedly, outside the moribund UN force is going to shape the issue of the political settlement between Kiir and Machar.