Machar directs his ‘forces’ to assemble in cantonment sites

Machar directs his ‘forces’ to assemble in cantonment sites

South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar has directed SPLA-IO forces to assemble in cantonment areas as soon as possible, as part of the peace deal.

“I want you to take the issue of cantonment very seriously. If you don’t report yourselves, they will count you out,” Machar told his supporters who gathered at a rally in Khartoum on Friday.

“Please report yourselves to any nearest cantonment sites.”

Under the peace deal, the parties are required to assemble their forces in cantonment sites to enable registration of personnel, weapons, screening, reorganization and demobilisation. The deal says all forces in cantonment sites shall receive non-military logistical supplies including food, shelter and access to medical care.

Machar, who will be reinstated as first vice president, emphasized the need for dissemination of the peace agreement to grassroots for citizens to understand the contents of the signed document.

“It is not good if normal citizens do not know what is written in the peace agreement,” he said.

The opposition leader pointed out that the peace agreement is lagging behind schedule, saying several technical committees have not yet been formed. “But we don’t want this to affect the agreement,” he said.

“This delay could affect the implementation of the agreement but we want to catch up,” he added.

The revitalized peace agreement signed in September will see the creation of a new transitional government in May 2019.

South Sudan: Riek Machar to return to Juba for peace ceremony

South Sudan: Riek Machar to return to Juba for peace ceremony

South Sudan’s main rebel leader Riek Machar will return to the capital, Juba, on Wednesday to take part in a peace ceremony, more than two years after he fled the country following the collapse of a power-sharing deal.

Machar last month signed a peace deal with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in Ethiopia to end a ruinous five-year war that killed tens of thousands and forced millions from their homes.

“Machar will lead a delegation of the SPLM/A-IO members for the peace celebration in Juba, but the programme in Juba is entirely in the hands of the regime,” group spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel said in a statement on Tuesday.

What next for South Sudan’s peace agreement?

Along with Kiir and Machar, a number of regional heads of state are also expected at the ceremony to publicly welcome the most recent peace agreement, which was approved in August before being signed in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Machar’s previous homecoming, in April 2016, was put off by wrangling over how many bodyguards he could bring with him and what weapons they would carry, but Gabriel said this time the rebel leader would be accompanied by only around 30 political figures.

“We are worried for his security in Juba, but the truth is here: we are for peace, and what we are trying to do is build trust,” Machar’s spokesperson said. “So that is why he is able to leave his forces behind and just go with politicians.

Failed peace deal

Two years after gaining independence, South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 when Kiir accused his then-deputy, Machar, of plotting a coup.

Ethnically-charged fighting soon spread from the capital across the impoverished state, shutting down oil fields, forcing millions to flee and killing tens of thousands of people.

A power-sharing deal that returned Machar to the vice presidency was signed in 2015. But it collapsed a year later in a deadly battle that saw Machar flee into exile in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He later travelled to South Africa where he was held under house arrest until peace talks started again in June, sponsored by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional bloc.

Opinion: Moving forward as a Peaceful Nation

Opinion: Moving forward as a Peaceful Nation

From January 2014, friends of South Sudan and South Sudanese uncomfortably dismissed violence for peaceful resolution of a conflict generated by individual politicians in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and few politicized generals in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The rejection of violence and campaign for peace gathered a tremendous momentous impact on the then warring parties: the SPLM, SPLM In Opposition and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) to accept dialogue, negotiation, and reconciliation. In the process, from 2014 to 2018, the committed Regional Bloc of the Horn of Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in alliance with African Union (AU), the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Troika (the US, UK, and Norway), exerted their diplomatic experience and successfully mediated an agreement which seems capable to end “the senseless war” of 15 December 2013. The Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), signed on 12 September 2018, is now holding and correctly being implemented by the political parties with support by the IGAD countries and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Now that peace is here, what is the role of the South Sudanese civilians, in terms of critical support of peace, security and upcoming government of national unity?

Yes, we have national roles and obligations as citizens of the Republic of South Sudan. These roles and obligations are of two facets: (a) the protection and services provisions by your country to you as a citizen. (b) And “what you can do for your country.”

What we can do for our country now, for R-ARCSS to succeed, should be focused on the following: (a) commitment to the unity of purpose and necessity; (b) sustain and maintain our obligatory commitment to peace and security; (c) support the political parties in their efforts and endeavors to correctly implement the R-ARCSS in the pledged spirit and letter; (d) remind the upcoming Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to critically abandon dictatorship, tightened legislation to prevent and fight corruption, theft, and mismanagement; and (e) finally, save-guide the future of system of government (federation) and good governance, liberalism, democracy and the rule of law. Above all, the National Legislature (parliament) and the Judiciary must prevail effectively in the transitional legislation and application of interim justice respectively.

In my opinion, it is time to regret the past (2005-2018) and acknowledge the failure of the state in all fields of customary livelihoods. Worst of all, the culmination of the country’s political, economic and social failure into anarchical violence, chaos, and war, has recorded a historical shame on our country. The humanitarian death and plight shall remain among the top worst in world records. To repair the image of our country, we must accept our mistakes, learn from them and correct them amicably. Such actions can win us a reconsidered recognition worldwide and restoration of our national pride. Let’s bury our differences if any, and reverse back to the long liberation (1955-2005) solidarity which gave us the independence we deserved. Let’s go for the change because the past had messed up, decayed and impossible to retain and maintain.

– Aldo Ajou Deng

SOUTH SUDAN’s REVITALIZED AGREEMENT IS ON HEALTHY START AND HOLDING IT’S GROUNDS

SOUTH SUDAN’s REVITALIZED AGREEMENT IS ON HEALTHY START AND HOLDING IT’S GROUNDS

Fresh civil war erupted in Juba on 15 December 2013, causing heavy civilian casualties. The war spread to other parts of the country as the power struggle within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and took a nose dive into the military and the general public. As the war progressed, it took ethnic dimensions pitting the Dinka and Nuer residing largely in Juba. The war was predictable but the magnitude of the violence was unforeseen as it quickly spread from Juba, Bor, Malakal, Akobo, and Bentiu. There were revenge and counter-revenge from both sides of the conflict. Immediately, in January 2014, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) intervened to stop the violence and broker a negotiated peaceful settlement within the context of the conflict. Eventually, and on 12 September 2018, the South Sudanese political parties: the SPLM, SPLM IO and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), signed the Revitalized Agreement on Resolutions of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS). These parties to the R-ARCSS have so far shown their commitment to it as compared to the previous peace agreements (ARCSS 2015 in point) which ended up in a brutal violence and total failure.
The focus has now shifted to the implementation of the R-ARCSS. The R-ARCSS has provisions for eight months pre-transition leading to the formation of Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU). The TGoNU shall run for a period of three years under which a new constitution will be made and government structures put in place. There shall be institutional and security sector reforms that will make government small, effective and efficient. Reforms will be directed at the public sector but most importantly putting governance institutions in place. The implementation phase requires all parties to collectively pull in the same direction and ensure the process is carried out to a successful conclusion.

The immediate challenge is hence security. The security challenge is complex to deal with in a period of three years given the history of the liberation struggle within SPLM/A and lack of documentation on liberation cadres within the formal and informal military ranks. The process of creating a new South Sudan Defense Forces and the criteria of inclusion and exclusion is a negotiated agenda. It also carries with it political risks of more violence from those who might not be accommodated within the new People’s Defense Forces (PDF). Thus, security sector reforms must encompass vocational training and recruitment of cadres in other security agencies such as police, wildlife, prisons, and national security among others. Security sectors reforms also have both lateral and horizontal implications since the number of generals shall be drastically reduced and redeployment and training of others in military academies to take new roles within the restructured South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF). The success of security sector reforms shall equally guarantee success in other sectors and state institutions.

Security sector reforms remain the most controversial and basic source of ensuring peace in South Sudan. The six national security services (SPLA, South Sudan National Police, National security intelligence, South Sudan National Prison, National Wildlife, and Fire Brigade) have to be restructured, reformed and professionalized. Above all, they have to be put under government administration for accountability and strict monitoring and supervision. In the past, the central focus has been the reconstruction and undertaking of security reforms solely focusing on SPLA instead of whole security sector reforms. Whereas there have been policy documents of security sector reforms such as the transformation program (2012-2017), very little has been achieved. Security agencies are largely a reflection and damping ground of SPLA and its affiliated militias. The starting point would be a comprehensive undertaking or review of the security sector to determine force strength, capacity, skills and competencies and then right size through alignment with resources and in a manner that takes into consideration emerging security threats in South Sudan and globally. The specific objective of undertaking sector reforms is to professionalize the six security agencies while making them independent of the executive and SPLA. Most importantly is to place them under civilian control. Finally, the general objective would be to strengthen civilian oversight role internally and externally. The security sector should be undertaken also as part of greater institutional reforms.

South Sudan faces serious humanitarian crises in diverse forms- Internally displaced persons, refugees, and over seven million facing starvation across the country. There are those physically challenged, injured, traumatized, and civilian deaths with attendants effects socially manifested in IDP camps where direct and indirect effects of the war are widespread and notable. The humanitarian tasks involve high social movement and mass resettlement of people. More often than not, diseases such as measles, cholera, and meningitis take the heavy toll on women and children in a distressful environment and conditions. What is more, it requires huge international support from humanitarian agencies to resettle refugees and internally displaced persons even as the state seeks a lasting solution to the problem largely associated with war and legacy of war.
The revamping of the economy is equally important if not the most important variable in realizing and implementing the peace process. Besides the oil economy that contributes to 98% of national revenue, other sectors of the economy have been neglected. Agriculture, animal husbandry, minerals, and tourism have the potential to transform the economy and create jobs for the youth. It is worth noting high youth unemployment and security implications, especially when coupled with high inflation and low productivity. Indeed, the revitalized peace agreement placed more emphasis on sharing oil resources and revamping the oil infrastructure at the expense of diversification of the economy and food security. Prudent management of oil resources and diversification of the economy would generate revenue that might transform sectors such as health, education, delivery of social services and infrastructure to link the country both horizontally and vertically.

The success of the peace agreement would depend also on the caliber of the constitution negotiated within the transitional period of three years. The constitution requires taking into consideration a federal system of government and control of resources by devolved units to allow the central government to concentrate on foreign policy, defense national security. The aim would be to introduce many centers of power and control of resources placed at the hands of the local populace. What is important however is not to weaken the state but allow the state to play its traditional role.

Finally, peace is expensive and require support beyond national borders. The peace agreement would need the support of the whole world and especially countries with significant investments and other interests in South Sudan. The primary focus should remain the interests of South Sudanese to realize and reap peace dividends.

By Aldo Ajou Deng Akuey

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