More rebels emerge as Igad dithers over South Sudan

Saturday December 02 2017

Members of the rebel group in Thonyor, in Leer County, South Sudan on April 11, 2017. Since fresh fighting broke out in Juba in July 2016, there are about 11 rebel factions. PHOTO | AFP


The delay in the implementation of the South Sudan Revitalisation Programme is providing a breeding space for new rebel groups.

Since fresh fighting broke out in Juba in July 2016 that scattered the August 2015 peace agreement, rebel groups keep on coming up; the number has now reached 11.

Experts on South Sudan say that this is an indication that the August 2015 peace agreement signed by the three groups—President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Dr Riek Machar and former detainees — did not take into consideration many other grievances in the country that are now coming to the fore.

The worry now is that the more the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) delays in setting in motion the revitalisation programme, the greater the danger of more rebel groups emerging with new demands.

READ: South Sudan peace talks pushed to 2018, before polls

Hastlin Roba, a former minister for education in Central Equatoria State, told The EastAfrican that more rebels are also a confirmation that state building after the 2011 Independence had lost direction.


Mr Roba added that the revitalisation programme is a good opportunity to stop the emergence of more rebel groups if the process includes the grievances of those interest groups that were excluded but who are now finding a voice after the collapse of the peace agreement.

READ: South Sudan civil war worsening

On November 26, South Sudan United Liberation Movement/Army led by Gen Zachariah Monyjiek Baguot Kiir, announced its existence in Ruweng State, seeking to oust President Salva Kiir.

In February, Gen Thomas Cirilo, the former deputy head of logistics in the South Sudanese army, defected and formed the National Salvation Front (NSF) to overthrow President Kiir.

Gen Cirilo’s group has since incorporated the Cobra faction led by Khalid Boutros of northeast Pibor.

In February this year, former Botswana president Festus Mogae, who is also the chairperson of the Jointing Monitoring Evaluation Commission (JMEC) that monitors the implementation of the peace agreement, raised the alarm over this trend.

Mr Mogae warned that while some of the group were not given an opportunity in the peace agreement, others are criminals taking advantage of the political instability in the country.

The Igad Council of Ministers came up with the Revitalisation Programme in June to review the implementation programme so far and identify the problem areas, including the incorporation of all the disgruntled groups that were not part of the agreement.