Finally, a sigh of relief from South Sudan. The youngest country on earth may soon see an end to the conflict that has marred the better part of its country through a peace agreement between the warring factions. It is a great moment for South Sudan, and one which must be fully utilized and never allowed to break down.
The country's five-year war has brought devastating effects and untold suffering to South Sudan, and peace was a seemingly remote possibility. The details of the peace deal are still being worked out, but the initiative is a noble one, in all honesty. The peace deal will hinge on power sharing between the government and opposition parties. It will ultimately come down to the will and commitment that the participants of the peace deal are to invest if it is to work out for the benefit of everyone.
Sworn enemies Salva Kiir and former vice-president Riek Machar (who will become one of the vice-presidents) reached a peace agreement on Sunday in Khartoum, Sudan's capital. The country is teetering on the brink of experiencing something new, which will be good for the country. The overtures to peace were met with great excitement, as businesses were shut on Tuesday in Juba, South Sudan's capital, to celebrate this achievement. You can tell - conflict makes a people weary, and peace is desired and cherished by everyone.
As with any war, nothing good comes out of it except destruction that permeates all facets of life. The war was aggravated by leadership and ethnic rivalries, the economy which heavily relies on crude oil was left on its knees, tens of thousands were killed and nearly 3 million out of the country's population of 12 million were displaced. The repercussions of the war have been felt in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.
The peace deal was brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Some South Sudan opposition parties say that they do not agree with some of the provisions being set out in the peace deal, but they still agree with the whole initiative because they are committed to achieving peace for the country. Responding to this, IGAD said that mediators would continue facilitating the talks until a revitalized peace agreement for South Sudan was finally signed.
Will the peace deal last for long? At this rate, South Sudan cannot afford to slack on the progress of this peace agreement. The deal must be predicated on tenets such as good governance, including on security, justice, accountability and the rule of law. This requires a strong political will to achieve and vigorous co-operation among the regional leaders.
Power sharing between the government and the opposition parties must be handled in a way that must not sow seeds of discord, discontent and resentment. Previous peace agreements have not lasted for long, but hopefully this one will bring the much-desired peace to South Sudan.
Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir must ensure this peace deal will work out. Enduring peace can be achieved, if enough will is invested in making this work out.
But certainly, and undoubtedly, this is a ray of hope for South Sudan. This is a chance at achieving peace that must not be lost.
Header image credit: Daily Monitor