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28/08/2014

South Sudan: Is a coalition government the best path to peace?

IGAD has given the warring factions in the South Sudanese conflict to come up with a unity government in the next 45 days. This unity government will draw from both President Kiir's side, and Vice President Riek Machar's side. But is a unity government the best path to peace? From elsewhere in the continent, it appears so. In Kenya, during the 2007/08 conflict, the warring sides in the election dispute, former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime minister Raila Odinga, agreed to form a coalition government that finally brought peace to the country. Even though the two sides formed a government that was too broad and burdened the Kenyan
people, it was a nice compromise to the lack of stability that the country had been experiencing. The coalition agreement was dissolved at the end of the five year transition period, and new elections were held.

In Zimbabwe, the same scenario played itself out. After the disputed elections in 2008, the two warring sides, President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, entered into a coalition after the election could not produce a clear winner. The coalition also served a five year term, and after that, Zimbabwe went into full elections that were won handily by Mugabe. So, in South Sudan's case, it appears that IGAD is in fact right in advocating for a coalition government, although it would take a long while before both sides learn to work amicably for the benefit of the South Sudan people.

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