Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia must directly participate in the implementation of the new South Sudan peace agreement signed in Khartoum on September 12, officials say, or risk having it go the way of the 2015 agreement.
South Sudan ambassador to China John Andruga Duku, who was part of the government delegation during the negotiations, told The EastAfrican in Nairobi that Juba is determined to restore peace after Sudan came in strongly to push for the agreement.
He said previously the rebels had a safe haven in Sudan, but with President Omar al-Bashir accelerating the process the government hopes that Khartoum will no longer allow rebels to operate on its soil.
“It is in the interests of these countries to ensure that the agreement is implemented. The agreement is not only for the suffering of the South Sudanese but for the sake of the economy and the security of the entire region,” said Mr Duku.
However, he claimed that the strong involvement of President al-Bashir in the process is one of the reasons why the Troika — US, UK and Norway — did not endorse the agreement because he did not allow them to dictate the pace and the contents of the agreement like in 2015.
“This time we are asking the Western powers whether they are for peace or for the continuation of the war. If they are not supporting the revitalised agreement signed by the majority of the stakeholders, then they are trying to be more Catholic than the Pope,” he said.
The Troika, the major funders of the South Sudan peace process and the key donors to the country, did not guarantee the agreement because it was not fully inclusive and concentrated on political power-sharing, adding that South Sudanese leaders sign agreements that they don’t honour.
Riek Machar’s Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) is also calling for optimism among its supporters.
Mabior Garang de Mabior, the SPLM-IO director for information and public relations, said they believe that a settlement could result in the reforms they have been fighting for.
“The SPLM-IO members should not be dismayed that we did not get everything we want from the agreement or because many assurances given by the mediators have not been adequately addressed. But this is the nature of negotiations,” he said.
He is, however, concerned by the continued attacks by the government forces on their defensive positions in Equatoria and Upper Nile, which pose a challenge to the implementation of the permanent ceasefire during the eight months pre-interim period.
“The main goals of the Revitalised Agreement is to prepare for a free and fair election by embarking on reforms in the judiciary, the army and the police, the return of the over two million refugees in the neighbouring countries, delineation of the constituencies, and the registration of voters within the eight-month pre-transition period,” said Mr Duku.