Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-South African president Thabo Mbeki on Tuesday disagreed on whether the conflict in South Sudan was an avoidable scenario.
The two former heads of state were speaking Tuesday at the ongoing African Development Bank Group Annual Meeting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
The young state plunged into crisis in December 2013 amid a power struggle between the president and his deputy whom he had sacked.
At a session discussing “Ending Conflict And Building Peace In Africa, Mbeki said the conflict in South Sudan was totally avoidable since it was caused by a failure in leadership.
However, Obasanjo said there were signs to show that the conflict in Africa’s newest nation was inevitable.
He cited last July’s reshuffle that saw current rebel leader Riek Machar lose his job as vice president.
Alluding to the Boko Haram insurgents in his native Nigeria, Obasanjo gave a chronological account of how at it’s inception, the group were treated as mere riff ruffs and this gave them time to grow into an Islamist group. He said the leadership in Nigeria refused to address the problem earlier hence the current situation.
The two leaders however agreed that it was a failure of leadership that caused the South Sudan crisis.
“The leadership in South Sudan was self centered and only aimed at serving it’s own interests instead the people hence the jostle for power and conflict” Mbeki said.
Mbeki also said that tribal clashes between the Neur and Dinka that emerged after the start of the conflict were not decided by ordinary people but their leaders.