Famous Kenyan historian and orator Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba has likened the progress of the South Sudan peace process to a union of an unwilling couple that can hardly be facilitated by a third party.
In an interview with Radio Tamazuj Sunday evening, Lumumba said it was unnecessary to blame the peace guarantors, who are equally frustrated by circumstances they cannot change adding that the responsibility solely lies with signatories to the agreement.
“It is very easy from an armchair position to blame the guarantors but remember even the peace guarantors are sometimes frustrated,” he said. “They are frustrated because of their internal dynamics over which they have no control.”
“So, in my view, it is the players themselves that must remain faithful to the timetable. It is like a marriage. It is the husband and wife who must play their role. You can’t expect the bride’s maids and the bride groom’s partner to be the ones that are making them ensure that the marriage works,” Lumumba added.
The historian called on President Salva Kiir and opposition leader and First President Dr. Riek Machar to renew their vigor and brush off their individual interests for the good of the country.
“It is important that the key leaders in this particular process, and permit me to name them by name, President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar and the other players do what they must, to prioritize what is in the best interest of South Sudan,” said the orator.
Lumumba teased the two leaders to “remember that everybody in Africa is praying for them and we wish them goodwill. They must remember on that day when they went to Rome and the Roman Catholic Pope knelt before them.”
It was, Lumumba said, an indication to the leaders that peace is desired, a statement to them that the world was looking at them, it was a statement to them that people are becoming impatient, it was a statement to them that they must sacrifice personal interest for the general good.
Asked whether the main parties were directly responsible for the delay to implement the agreement, Lumumba equivocally stated that lack of will from both parties was a major concern.
“You can sign the best agreement that there is in the world but if there is no goodwill, the things that are written in the paper will mean nothing,” he was quoted to have said.
“But if you agree to do things and you believe that those things are necessary for the good of the people, sometimes you don’t even need an agreement. You only need people to enter into the understanding which is documented or undocumented and the people will do what is good and right,” Lumumba added.
The orator advised that if the agreement was lacking something, the signatories should reach out to the guarantors, in particular, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
“If indeed the IGAD peace documents are lacking in anything, it is the duty of players to fill in the gap through goodwill. Only remember one thing; why was the war fought in the first place?” he questioned.
“This is the question that must always ring in the minds of the leaders. Why did we fight in the first place? We fought that we may liberate our people from modern-day slavery, we fought that we may liberate our people from poverty, we fought that we may liberate our people from economic sorrow and want. If they remember that, the gaps in the agreement will mean nothing. It will be filled with goodwill,” said Lumumba, who warned in 2020 that South Sudan will not achieve peace and stability even after ten