The handshake ban issued by the South Sudan cabinet as a precaution to contain the spread of Ebola virus is – according to the rebels – nothing but a cheap political game to undermine the ongoing peace negotiations, and an attempt for the President to avoid shaking the hands of rebel leader Riek Machar (for the second time) in the event that a final settlement is reached to end the crisis in the country.
In May this year, the two antagonists Pres. Kiir and rebel leader Machar strategically avoided eye contact and (in an almost hostile way) declined to shake each other’s hands as the world watched them symbolically exchange signed documents of an agreement that was intended to that kind of ‘end hostilities’.
Indeed, the document meant very little as hostilities in all fronts raged on even after the highest ranking representatives of God – the bishops – specifically requested all stakeholders to cease.
However, the rebels are adamant that this latest move to ban handshakes is a calculated move that has little to do with spread of Ebola but rather, it is meant as another excuse to renegade from the deal that would see the former Vice-President come out of the bush straight to seat and mansion of the country’s first Prime Minister.
President Kiir has gone on record to say that he had been forced to shake the right hand of the left-handed rebel leader, and if he had the choice, he would prefer not to.
No Ebola cases have been reported in the country so far, but it appears the country has already put in place measures to tackle a fear that has not materialized yet, while other preventable and solvable disasters continue to rip apart the 3-year-old nation.
Recently, South Sudan added USA, and the European region to their list of countries considered to be Ebola high-risk, and passengers arriving from these region will be subjected to extra screening.
The rebels said they are not ruling out raising a complaint with IGAD – the regional body overseeing the talks -, or pulling out from the talks should the government of South Sudan continue play games.
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