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Archbishop Tutu Fellows appeal for the South Sudan Peace Agreement to be rescued

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On Africa Day, 2017, an open letter to African Heads of State from Archbishop Tutu Fellows, appealing for the South Sudan Peace Agreement to be rescued.

 

H.E. Yoweri Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
H.E. Omar al-Bashir
President of the Republic of the Sudan
H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta
President of the Republic of Kenya
H.E. John Magufuli
President of the United Republic of Tanzania
H.E. Jacob Zuma
President of the Republic of South Africa
H.E. Paul Kagame
President of the Republic of Rwanda
H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
H.E. Muhammadu Buhari
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 
H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn
Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia  
H.E. Hage Gottfried Geingob
President of the Republic of Nambia

 


Re: Archbishop Tutu Fellows appeal for the South Sudan Peace Agreement to be rescued

Your Excellencies, We, the Archbishop Tutu Fellows (“Tutu Fellows”), of the African Leadership Institute, have been following the events unfolding in South Sudan with great dismay. We felt it incumbent upon ourselves to write and urge you, as neighbours and key members of regional blocs, to leverage your relationships with political and military leaders on all sides of the conflict in South Sudan to revive a political process and chart a way forward for the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). As the situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate, the peace agreement provides an important opportunity for South Sudan to save itself and the region from a protracted war.  We therefore urge you to deny them access to your countries and the amenities and assets they enjoy in your countries.

Your Excellencies, the influence you have over the political and military leadership in South Sudan carries with it a responsibility to the people of South Sudan. We, in Africa and the world at large, have watched with dismay the belligerence and intransigence of South Sudan’s leaders and the escalating cost that ordinary South Sudanese and neighbouring countries have been forced to pay. Since the conflict erupted in December 2013, more than 3.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes and an untold number have been killed. Famine has been declared in two counties and there are real concerns that it could spread further. Fighting between armed groups persists and civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence, as seen in the latest string of atrocities committed in Parjok, Wau, Raja, Yei and Kodok. Without a fundamental change in conflict dynamics, South Sudan will be depopulated by 50 percent from pre-conflict populations levels due to starvation and displacement. This would be the biggest exodus of people from an African country since the Rwandan genocide.

By refusing to adhere to the 2015 peace agreement, South Sudan’s leaders are denying their people food, security, health care and other basic rights.  By denying South Sudan’s political and armed leaders access to your countries, you will be sending out the message to other Africans and the rest of the world, that we in Africa do indeed have the solutions to our African problems. Excellencies, keeping South Sudan’s leaders away from the comforts and conveniences they enjoy in your own countries will compel them to encounter the grim realities and horrors they have subjected their people to and, we hope, take responsibility for the situation and its peaceful resolution.

The notion of ‘African solutions for African problems’ emphasizes the principle that we, as Africans, are best placed to address our problems in a context-specific and conflict-sensitive manner. As Africans, we cannot afford to let our continent’s youngest nation remain mired in another endless conflict, yet, we also recognise the inability of the country’s leaders to put aside their differences and act in the interests of their own people.

Your Excellencies, South Sudan’s crisis is no longer limited to the borders of South Sudan -- it is a threat to the entire region and the continent, at large. Ambitious plans for regional integration and large infrastructure projects are no longer deemed viable. A 2015 study by the Centre for Peace and Development Studies at Juba University estimated that the conflict could cost Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda as much as $13 billion USD in lost productivity by 2019 if peace is not restored. Recent news from Kenyan banks such as Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) which reported a staggering Sh6.1 billion in foreign exchange losses from their South Sudan operations suggest that this figure may well have been underestimated.  

In addition to the economic repercussions, the conflict also poses serious national security threats to your own neighbouring countries. Populations in northern Uganda are still recovering from the lengthy conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and cannot cope with these numbers of refugees. The risk of instability and conflict between displaced and host populations is high. Militia from South Sudan have gone on rampages in eastern Ethiopia, abducting children and killing Ethiopian citizens. South Sudanese security operatives are choreographing disappearances of South Sudanese dissidents from Kenya, and Kenyan citizens in South Sudan have been arbitrarily detained and killed.

We have applied our minds and, in addition to our plea that you deny South Sudan’s leaders access into your countries, we forward a number of other suggestions of how the 2015 peace agreement can be rescued (see Annex).  

As emerging young African leaders, we hope that you, Excellencies, will act on behalf of South Sudan’s people -  the starving, the orphaned, the wounded, the displaced, and millions of others who have known nothing but war.

We thank you for considering our appeal and we trust that you will treat it with the urgency that it deserves.

Signed by:
The Archbishop Tutu Fellows

About the Tutu Fellows

The Archbishop Tutu Fellows of the African Leadership Institute are a diverse group of leading professionals from 34 African countries working at the forefront of positive change on the African continent. Tutu Fellows have undergone the Institute’s flagship programme, the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Programme, which is widely considered the premier leadership training programme on the continent. The goal of the programme is to impact the future of Africa through building and nurturing the capability of future leaders of the continent, drawing upon the globally-respected leadership values of our Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Since the inaugural class of 2006, the network now boasts 300 Tutu Fellows.

cc:

H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat
Chairperson of the African Union Commission

H.E. Alpha Konaré
African Union High Representative for South Sudan

H.E. Festus Mogae
Chairperson of the Joint Evaluation and Monitoring Commission

H.E. Nicholas Haysom
United Nations Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan


Annex - How to Rescue the August 2015 Peace Agreement

  • Use your influence with the leadership of the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) and other armed opposition groups to pressure them to enter unconditional and immediate dialogue about how to rescue the August 2015 peace agreement. This dialogue could be launched in an international summit on South Sudan under the auspices of IGAD, the AU and UN.
  • Ensure that any political process that engages the warring groups in South Sudan is fully inclusive, both in terms of representation from armed groups as well as from other key constituencies in South Sudanese society, such as faith groups, civil society, women, youth, academics and traditional authorities. These unarmed constituencies can help to ensure the credibility of the process by bridging it with populations on the ground in South Sudan and refugee populations in neighboring countries.
  • Ensure that the Government of South Sudan abides by its commitment to allow the deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF) in Juba. Aside from its mandate to protect civilians, the RPF would also play an important political role in providing a secure environment for dialogue among representatives of the Government, armed opposition and other stakeholders to take place.
  • Pressure the Government of South Sudan and armed opposition groups, in both words and action, to provide complete and unrestricted humanitarian access and to protect civilians in areas under their control. Given the fractured nature of many of the armed groups in South Sudan, IGAD, the AU and UN must engage leaders at various levels of the civilian and military hierarchies to ensure that they adhere to the terms of a permanent ceasefire.

A PDF of the open letter to African heads of state from the Tutu Fellows can be downloaded from the AFLI website here.

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