Conflict  South Sudan peace deal: ‘Whose power are they sharing anyway?’

Conflict South Sudan peace deal: ‘Whose power are they sharing anyway?’

More than four million South Sudanese, a third of the country’s population, have been forced to flee their homes during the last five years. Without an effort to include their views – not just those of the country’s political elite – lasting peace will be difficult to achieve.

The signing in September of a new peace agreement between the government of President Salva Kiir, the main rebel leader Riek Machar, and other opposition forces has been called a milestone.

But while it is a welcome development, many among South Sudan’s 2.5 million refugees and 1.8 million internally displaced are deeply frustrated about the process and feel increasingly left behind.

Displaced people are among those most affected by the ongoing crisis, yet, very often, they feel the least included in the decisions that impact their lives.

Through distinct but similar research, our organizations, the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), interviewed more than 200 South Sudanese civilians over the past 10 months, most of them displaced in South Sudan, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

Many of those we met blamed their leaders for prioritising rent-seeking over peace, and for digging in rather than seeking compromises.

“Our leaders are not after peace, but after positions,” said one displaced woman in Wau in northwestern South Sudan.

One of the most commonly voiced contentions was that the leadership was more focused on power-sharing and self-enrichment than on addressing the root causes of violence, like local tensions, governance failures, and corruption.

Many people, for example, said they resented the plan for five vice-presidents. As a refugee in Uganda asked: “whose power are they sharing anyway?”

‘They have interests’

While the new Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) had not yet been signed at the time of our research (between September 2017 and July 2018), respondents were highly critical of the peace process. That effort was led first by the East African regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and then by member states Sudan and Uganda.

Many people expressed frustration with both the mediation process and the South Sudanese political leadership participating in the talks.

“Our leaders are not after peace, but after positions.”

Refugees in Ethiopia, for example, strongly accused IGAD of bias, pointing to the exclusion of Machar in the first phase of the talks. Respondents elsewhere blamed IGAD for the collapse of the original deal signed in 2015, saying it had failed to follow through on implementation and punish those hindering the process.

Regional interests were seen as trumping conflict resolution initiatives; questions were raised about Uganda’s dual role as both peace mediator and party to the conflict when it sent troops to South Sudan after the outbreak of violence in 2013.

One refugee in Uganda commented: “IGAD has issues with neutrality and confidence among actors. Some IGAD countries are involved in the war in South Sudan. They have interests.”

Those we interviewed also complained about a lack of access to information and an inability to voice their views. Many felt disconnected from the elite-driven peace process, which they said lacked significant citizen participation.

A small number of refugee representatives were invited to attend portions of the High-Level Revitalization Forum, in which the new deal was brokered, but they were limited to observer status.

Some felt represented through civil society organisations or politicians – refugees in Ethiopia, for example, expressed strong support for former – and future – vice-president Machar – but others noted the shortcomings in the legitimacy or leverage of these delegates.

Because so little information filtered down to ordinary South Sudanese, rumours dominated local discussions, people told us, filling the information vacuum with unverified, word-of-mouth accounts that further muddied the picture.

Many of the people we interviewed called for a wider dialogue but said this should ideally take place after the security situation had improved and with more inclusive conditions than the existing National Dialogue.

The National Dialogue was announced by President Kiir in December 2016 and consisted of a series of consultations in South Sudan and – to a limited extent – neighbouring countries. The process was controversial from the start, seen both as a tool of the Kiir government and a competitor to the IGAD-led peace efforts.

Going home

While some displaced South Sudanese said they might try to go home if and when a peace deal was signed, the majority were apprehensive and wanted to see more concrete signs of progress before making risky returns.

Respondents mentioned several failed peace agreements and their lack of implementation. Many said the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement – which ushered in South Sudan’s independence in 2011 – was the only accord implemented successfully.

“This time round, IGAD must learn from experience,” one IDP recommended. “They should try to put in place everything it takes to protect the agreement, and those who try to go against it must be punished.”

The current peace agreement, however, has no built-in sanction mechanisms and keeps several provisions that were problematic in the past, including the oft-criticised monitoring bodies from the 2015 deal.

The signing of the new agreement may be a milestone event, but what does it really mean for the millions of people still displaced?

The clear outcome of our research is that the only way people will feel confident about the peace process is if those in charge commit to implementing all the provisions of the new agreement, including those on security, government reform, and accountability.

Displaced citizens must be properly informed about the peace deal and more closely connected to its implementation and monitoring.

This starts with better communication – disseminating the provisions of the peace agreement to people who are vulnerable and displaced – but should ultimately lead to a new nationwide dialogue that includes all ordinary citizens in planning South Sudan’s future.

Only the feeling of being involved will end the sense of alienation and allow those most affected by the war to start imagining a more positive future, which is the surest way to engage them in the political process and in turn reduce the risk of renewed conflict.

Igad to discuss South Sudan peace in Ethiopia

Igad to discuss South Sudan peace in Ethiopia

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) will meet in Addis Ababa on Friday to discuss the peace progress in South Sudan.

A brief email extended to the media on Wednesday afternoon indicated that the regional bloc’s Council of Ministers would meet in the Ethiopian capital.

“The 66th Extraordinary Session of the Igad Council of Ministers will convene on Friday, November 16, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On the agenda are the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement of the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) and progress in Somalia,” Igad Programme Manager Abdullahi Busuri said.

Igad is keen to push the South Sudan signatories on their commitment to meet the implementation timelines.

The guarantors

The latest South Sudan peace deal was signed following a breakthrough in Khartoum by the Sudanese President Omar Bashir after months of negotiations.

President Salva Kiir and main opposition leader Riek Machar inked the deal on September 12 in Addis Ababa.
The entire peace agreement is under the Igad supervision.
The regional bloc authorised Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Somalia to be the guarantors of the South Sudan peace.

By JOSEPH ODUHA

Kiir to meditate Sudan Peace Talks

Kiir to meditate Sudan Peace Talks

The President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, is resolved to mediate the political conflict between the Nuba Mountains, South Blue Nile, and Darfur on one hand, and Government of Khartoum, led by President Omer Ahmed Hassan Al Bashir, on the other hand. After the January 2011 referendum of Southern Sudan and eventual declaration of independence on 9 July 2011, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of January 2005, ended. Thus rendering the CPA protocols on the borders of South Sudan and Sudan, Abyei region, the Nuba Mountains, South Blue Nile, in limbo. From there on, the regions of the Nuba Mountains, South Blue Nile, and Darfur formed a unified front and staged a new war against the Sudan Government, from 2010. Sudan accused President Salva Kiir of linking his Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) with the remanents of the SPLM-North faction. This new situation, after the division of Sudan and division of the SPLM, triggered a “cold war” and a “war in a proxy,” between South Sudan and Sudan.

Since 2011 South Sudan has been and still is, in cold and proxy wars. Thus the intervention of President Al Bashir, behind the curtains of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), had come at the right time when South Sudanese were extremely tired of war and needed peace. President Al Bashir’s acceptance to mediate peace among South Sudan warring parties (SPLM, SPLM IO, and SSOA), successfully concluded the “Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), which was signed on 12 September 2018, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by the parties. This R-ARCSS effectively paved the way for the resumption and return to square one: “The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)” of 9 January 2005 between the SPLM and the Government of Sudan, Signed by Dr. John Garang de Mabior and President Omer Ahmed Hassan Al Bashir respectively. This peace, by necessity, should prevail equally, in two Sudan.

In these interlinked political conflicts and civil wars, there are chains of roles and obligations that need full involvements of two governments, South Sudan and Sudan. Although the mediation of President Salva Kiir Mayardit could be said to have come late, yet political analysts favor this time since comprehensive peace and security could be achieved in two countries. President Salva Kiir Mayardit is the right person to mediate peace between the group (SPLM-North) and Sudan. This group, by names: Malik Agar. Abdel Aziz Al Hilu, Yasir Arman, and many others worked with President Salva during the Interim Government, under Al Bashir, from 2005 to 2011.

In my opinion, the two Presidents of Sudan, Salva, and Al Bashir should simply restore and reactivate CPA protocols for the Nuba Mountains, South Blue along with Abyei and the borders between the two countries. This scenario shall fully open the spirit of the CPA to end all sorts of political anarchies, violence, and wars in South Sudan and Sudan for the benefit of Sudanese in two countries and one people.

South Sudanese President orders release of Opposition party spokesman During Peace Celebrations

South Sudanese President orders release of Opposition party spokesman During Peace Celebrations

(JUBA) – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Wednesday ordered the release of James Gatdet Dak the spokesperson of SPLM-IO leader.

Kiir announced his decision during the celebration of the peace agreed attended by the regional leaders and in presence of opposition leaders including Riek Machar.

Dak was deported by the Kenyan authorities to Juba on 3 November 2016 because he praised a UN report blaming a Kenyan general who was the UNMISS former force commander for his failure to protect civilians in Juba during the bloody clashes of July 2016.

President Kiir said that James was condemned by a special court but he ordered today to free him from jail.

On 12 February 2018, a special court in Juba sentenced James to death by hanging, but his lawyers described the verdict as a political decision.

The South Sudanese leader also ordered the release of a second South African mercenary and ordered to expel him immediately.

He also reiterated his commitment to fully implement the peace agreement and called on the South Sudanese opposition leaders to remain in the country and to contribute to the peace implementation from now onward.

Source  – Sudan Tribune

Egypt pledges to support south Sudan peace implementation

Egypt pledges to support south Sudan peace implementation

(CAIRO) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reiterated his country’s support for peace in South Sudan and vowed to consolidate bilateral relations.

On Sunday, al-Sisi called President Salva Kiir to discuss bilateral relations as South Sudan has launched the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement after a five-year civil war.

“During the call, Mr President affirmed Egypt’s support for peace in South Sudan within the framework of the revitalized peace agreement concluded between the South Sudanese parties,” said Bassam Rady the presidential spokesperson.

Al-Sisi further expressed Egypt’s support for the various efforts aimed at realizing the aspirations of the people of South Sudan towards stability and development, added Rady.

Also, he affirmed Egypt’s support for the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement and its keenness to strengthen bilateral cooperation and provide assistance and technical support to South Sudan.

The presidential spokesperson didn’t say what triggered the telephone call. But, Juba invited all the regional leaders who supported his government during the war against the armed groups besides the IGAD leaders.

Last year, Egypt was accused by the armed opposition and the UN Panel of experts of providing weapons to the South Sudanese army.

Ramy said President Salva Kiir, for his part, expressed his thanks and gratitude to President al-Sisi, praising the Egyptian support to South Sudan and keenness to stabilize the situation in the new country.

Source – Sudan Tribune

S. Sudan frees political prisoners: Machar urges gov’t on peace deal

S. Sudan frees political prisoners: Machar urges gov’t on peace deal

South Sudan’s government on Thursday released five political prisoners, in accordance with the terms of the revitalised peace agreement signed last month.

South Sudan plunged into war two years after independence from Sudan in 2011 when a dispute between Kiir and then vice-president Riek Machar erupted into armed confrontation.

More than 50,000 people have been killed in the violence, and more than two million have been forced to flee their homes.

Implementing the peace deal

On Thursday in Juba, a National Security official who did not give his name told reporters that the release of the prisoners was in line with the peace deal signed in September in the Ethiopian capital.

However, according to a Reuters witness, the five men who were freed did not appear to be among the senior members of the main rebel faction led by Riek Machar, formerly the vice president of South Sudan.

Under the peace deal signed by the government and several rebel factions, senior officials of those factions, political detainees and prisoners of war should be released.

Will the peace deal hold?

There has been significant confusion recently over the fate of detainees, though the issue has long been a sticking point in successive peace deals that have failed to end the war.

Some of the men who are still detained by the Juba government have been sentenced to death, including Machar’s former spokesman James Gatdek Dak.

On Oct. 1 the president’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, told local broadcaster Radio Tamazuj that all political detainees had been released, under the terms of a separate agreement.

On Oct. 19, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had facilitated the release of 24 detainees freed by the government.

ICRC which was agreed by the peace parties as the supervisor of the release of detainees and prisoners of war, did not accompany the five released on Thursday.

On Oct. 21, opposition leader Riek Machar asked president Kiir to release all political detainees and prisoners of war, adding that a conducive environment for the implementation of the revitalised agreement is needed.