By press time today media reports indicated that South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit would sign the peace deal brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to end almost two years of intense fighting in the world’s newest state.
Since December 2013 forces loyal to General Kiir and those loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar Teny have been engaged in a bitter war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced close to two million people.
Over the last three decades the people of South Sudan have not enjoyed peace, save for a small period of about two years after the attainment of Independence in July 2011.
It is pertinent to note that on attainment of Independence General Kiir and Machar, as president and vice president, were bestowed with the heaviest responsibility of steering the new country, whose inhabitants had been exposed to untold suffering, to greater heights.
However, to the dismay of most proponents of the Independence of South Sudan, the two men and their allies failed to find a common ground that would be beneficial to their citizens, in the process sending the country on the path of self-destruction, with occasional tension often laced with devious ethnic considerations and capricious supremacy battles.
It is a sad reality that oftentimes African leaders have failed to distinguish the national interest from their individual interest, a very expensive undertaking for wobbly states on the continent.
And for South Sudan the resultant effect of this deliberate omission has been the further destruction of the appalling infrastructure and economy, both of which had earlier suffered a debilitating blow during the 21-year civil war that pitted the South Sudan Peoples Movement/Army (SPLM/A) against the Government of the Republic of Sudan.
So, as the people of South Sudan wait for the president’s impending ‘peace deal signature’ later today, it is important that the aspirations of the South Sudan citizens are put before the individual interests so that unity and peace can be given chance to prevail in the hitherto restive country.