The immediate past former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh has been appointed as co-facilitator on the High Level Revitalization Forum tasked to resolve the crisis in South Sudan.
The appointment by Intergovernmental Authority on Development Council, IGAD members follows close consultations and appreciation of Madam Hanna Tetteh’s rich experience over the years in handling continental matters.
IGAD Council members, now including Ghana’s former Foreign Affairs Minister are currently meeting in Adis Ababa to deliberate in the volatile situation in South Sudan. The high level meeting ends this Friday.
Madam Hanna Tetteh will be working with IGAD’s Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais and two other co-facilitators, His Excellency Ramtane Lamamra who is former Algerian Foreign Minister His Excellency Georges Rebelo Chicoti, a former Angolan Foreign Minsiter.
Madam Hannah Tetteh, a former Member of Parliament and a lawyer, was Foreign Affairs Minister in former President John Mahama’s administration, and a former Minister for Trade under the later President Mill’s administration.
Her role with IGAD council members, is part of wider continuous engagements the Special Envoy has had with key South Sudanese stakeholders and the international community, critical for the successful convening of the Forum.
The High-Level Revitalization Forum of parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the oil rich country includes estranged groups to discuss concrete measures, to restore permanent ceasefire, ensure full implementation of the Peace Agreement and to develop a revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period.
The South Sudanese government has made some gestures towards reconciliation, inter alia through the limited release of political prisoners.
It has further linked these efforts to the National Dialogue initiative, and to lay the ground to calls on political actors to prepare for elections in 2018.
In June this year, the AU Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for further initiatives to secure an immediate cessation of hostilities. Countries playing direct roles in facilitating the process include Uganda and Kenya.
South Sudan, is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa that gained its independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011 but has since ben struggling with a civil war that broke in 2013.
History of Sudan
For more than 1,000 years, Sudan was a collection of small independent kingdoms, which included the famous ancient kingdom of Nubia. The nation was closely tied to Egypt for thousands of years, but was autonomous, trading slaves, ivory and hides between Europe and Africa.
In 1881, a religious leader named Muhammad ibn Abdalla proclaimed himself the Mahdi (the “expected one”) and led a successful revolt against the Egyptians, culminating in the fall of Khartoum (Sudan’s capital) in 1885. At that time, Sudan became an independent Islamic state. The Mahdi’s followers assumed the name “Ansars,” which they have to this day, and are associated with Sudan’s largest political party, the Umma Party.
Although the Arab north of the country supported the revolution, the Mahdist government only lasted until 1898, when British and Egyptian troops led by Lord Kitchener took control of Sudan. Britain then ruled the country until 1956, when, on January 1st of that year, the African nation received its independence.
Crisis in the Making
Shortly after Sudan gained independence, a 17-year civil war began after fighting broke out between government forces and those of the Anya Nya movement. This civil war pitted the Muslim north of the country against the Christian and animist south.This was a time of great instability, both politically and economically, leading to a number of changes in government as a result of military coups.
In 1972, the Addis-Ababa agreement led to a cessation of the north-south civil war, as the south was granted a degree of self-rule. This ceasefire lasted 11 years.
In 1983, the President of Sudan announced his decision to incorporate punishments drawn from Islamic Sharia law as part of a program to turn the country into a Muslim-Arab state. Southerners, along with non-Muslims in the north, were subjected to the same punishments as Muslims. For example, there were amputations for theft and public lashings for alcohol possession. As a result of these measures, protests erupted and the government imposed a state of emergency, in which most constitutionally-guaranteed rights were suspended.
This led to a rebellion in the south and a resumption of the north-south civil war involving government forces and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) led by John Garang. The civil war continues to this day, fueled by disputes over the control of oil fields and political power, allegations of injustices and discrimination perpetrated against black Africans, as well as religious conflict.