On Thursday, March 20th, 2014 BPIA held its membership meeting at the Ralph Bunche Center, Howard University Campus in Washington DC from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. BPIA members, invited guests and the members of the BPIA Board of Directors attended the meeting and conducted productive discussions.

First, the Chairman of BPIA, Mr. Percy Wilson welcomed BPIA members who showed up to attend the meeting and thanked them for their continued dedication to the cause of the organization. He also welcomed the new invited guests for coming and invited them to join the BPIA. He then introduced the topic for discussion for the event. He said the topic for discussion during this meeting would be “Conflict in South Sudan: Its Roots Causes and Implications for the Region”. Then he introduced BPIA Board member and Secretary, Ambassador Fisseha Adugna who was invited by the Board to speak on this timely topic. He then invited Ambassador Adugna to begin his presentation.

Ambassador Adugna took the floor and thanked the Chairman for his introduction. He also expressed his appreciation to all attendees for coming to discuss the Conflict in South Sudan. He began his detailed presentation that contained the following points.

First of all, he briefly familiarized the audience with the historical back ground of South Sudan from 1870’s until the end of the Sudanese civil war in 2005. He also showed the special political arrangements between the North and South Sudan until 2011 and the outcome of the historic referendum that brought about the birth of a new nation in July 2011. He also analyzed the dynamics that developed within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) during the long war against Khartoum as well as the conflict within the organization itself involving the same personalities now in power struggle within the new Government of the Republic of South Sudan (RSS). Ambassador Adugna demonstrated the challenges that confronted the new nations, namely nation building, sustainable economic development, political transformation, capacity building, good governance, lack of meaningful national dialogue among competing groups within the SPLA/M leadership, ranks and file as well as the ethnic rivalries that were exacerbated by internal and external forces.

Ambassador Adugna briefed the audience about the immediate causes for the eruption of the conflict in December, 2013 and the current situation on the ground in South Sudan. He analyzed the implications of the civil war in South Sudan for this fragile new nation itself and for the region as well as for other countries far and near. He also briefed the participants about the current peace efforts spearheaded by Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and supported by the African Union (AU), United Nations Organization (UN), the European Union (EU), the Troika (United States, United Kingdom and Norway) as well as the Chinese Government. Ambassador Adugna concluded his presentation by underlining the importance of the United States Administration to reinforce its engagement and play a proactive role that will have a positive impact on the on-going peace process aimed at resolving the conflict in South Sudan. Then he invited the participants for discussion during which time many speakers expressed their views and opinions as well questions on the situation. Ambassador Adugna and other Board members addressed those many questions raised from the audience.

Finally, the Chairman, Mr. Wilson, once again thanked the attendees for the lively discussion on South Sudan and informed them that BPIA plans to hold similar meetings and discussions on timely topics in the future. He told them that he will send out invitation for the second membership meeting in June and expressed his hope that all will attend the meeting and engage in discussion on the selected topic that he will announce in his invitation letter that will be sent out soon.