Fineline-The embattled leaders of South Sudan have had enough with Addis Abeba…

A story in the international media suggests that the embattled leaders of South Sudan have had enough with Addis Abeba – the main destination of negotiations to bring peace since civil war broke out almost two years ago. They feel that the leaders in Addis Abeba have developed a partisan mood towards one side. Some have claimed that negotiators from both sides have been displeased with the heavy-handedness of Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s special envoy to China, who was called back home after IGAD appointed him as chief mediator.

Nonetheless, the delicate and nerve-wracking affair of bringing peace to the South Sudanese people is far more complicated than the conduct, or lack thereof, of an individual diplomat, gossip learnt. Why leaders of both factions chose to shun Addis Abeba as their preferred location for talks has little to do with Seyoum, but rather their respective disgruntlement with Addis Abeba’s leadership, claims gossip.

Salva Kiir, the bruised but acknowledged legitimate leader of South Sudan, was upset when he left Addis Abeba back in June 2014, after attending a leaders’ summit, according to gossip. Although he was brought to Addis on a chartered plane leased from Ethiopian Airlines by the Ethiopian government, what was described as a technical glitch caused a day’s delay in his departure, gossip disclosed, to his dismay.

The President and his entourage did not take this lightly, for they are convinced someone in the security establishment of Ethiopia had messed up, claims gossip. Feeling disrespected and improperly hosted, they are still seeking a formal explanation and believe an apology is in order before they restore their confidence in Addis Abeba as an impartial location for talks, gossip disclosed.

Little surprises then to see them prefer to head to Nairobi, according to gossip.

Kiir and his group have a more substantive reason for favouring Nairobi though, says gossip. They see Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, as increasingly leaning towards the side of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni – a powerful regional figure – on the proposal signed by the regional leaders, as well as Kiir and his arch enemy, Riek Machar, on the power sharing deal, claims gossip.

Machar, too, is displeased with the way talks are going on in Addis Abeba, and thus chose Nairobi as an alternative location for talks, claims gossip. Now in South Africa undergoing medical treatment, and lobbying ANC leaders in the meantime, Machar appears to be banking on the longstanding support he has enjoyed from successive Kenyan leaders, gossip observed.

All parties involved in bringing an end to the tragic scene in South Sudan agree on the power sharing formula, which appears to have been exercised in Zimbabwe, claims gossip. In as much as both leaders of the warring factions are abhorred by many, for they are thought to be part of the problem and not the solution, those who broker the deal have accepted that Kiir will continue as President and Machar as Prime Minister, according to gossip.

Yet, Machar is adamant that the arrangement will create an executive Prime Minister and a ceremonial President, should he moderate his stubborn position of having Kiir leave power never to come back, claims gossip. To the mediators, it is a proposition Kiir and his allies would never contemplate, says gossip.

The longer the deadlock remains, the bigger the headache for Ethiopian leaders, who are deeply worried at the possibility of the conflict taking on a regional dimension, gossip observed. With Museveni remaining unabashedly behind Kiir, it is a matter of time before Hussien Al-Bashir’s Sudan becomes immersed in the conflict, thereby dragging Ethiopia and possibly its archrival Eritrea into the scene as a consequence, gossip foresees. Such will be a proxy war in favour of none other than Museveni, who masterminded the game in the Great Lakes region, claims gossip.

Published on October 12, 2014 [ Vol 15 ,No 754]



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