Barely a week into the 100-day countdown for South Sudan protagonists to form a transitional government of national unity, it is emerging that Juba is yet to remit the $100 million needed to jump-start the work of the committee implementing the peace tasks and conditions.
James Morgan, South Sudan ambassador’s to the African Union told The EastAfrican that the government is hoping to use payments from oil sales to implement the specific tasks and conditions.
“South Sudan will do according to its ability, since the entire world is not helpful to the new nation. We are only depending on our national resources,” said Mr Morgan, adding, “Any peace agreement has always been supported by regional and international communities, but South Sudan’s has been left to Juba alone. This is the question that should be asked.”
However, South Sudan’s mediation efforts have been midwifed by the regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development and funded by the Troika — US, UK and Norway.
Essentially, South Sudan is subtly appealing for funds, even as it presented a brave face that it would implement the delayed agreement.
The country is one of the world’s most oil-dependent nations, according to the World Bank, with payments from oil accounting for 98 per cent of the national budget.
But funding the peace is not the only hurdle.
When President Salvar Kiir and Dr Riek Machar met in Kampala recently, they agreed to form a committee to handle 10 tasks, critical being issues of state boundaries and security arrangements. The committee is yet to meet.
“Out of the 10 tasks, nine will have to be completed for the formation of the government to happen,” said James Oryema, Dr Machar’s aide.
“The President had acknowledged activities could not be completed because of lack of funds. Now there is money coming from the sale of oil,” he said.
With Sudan and Uganda as guarantors of the peace agreement, the two countries were this week courting broader international support for the South Sudan peace process. This has seen South Africa’s Deputy President David Dabede Mabuza visiting Uganda on November 13 to discuss the Juba affair.
“The two leaders agreed to work together in ensuring that the implementation of all outstanding issues between the warring factions in South Sudan are achieved over the extended period of 100 days of the pre-transitional government of national unity,” a communique issued by State House said after his visit.
Ideally, President Kiir and Dr Machar are supposed to form a government of national unity in February 2020, on the expiry of the 100-day countdown that started on November 12.
Yet Dr Machar’s status as ‘’a prisoner’’ under house arrest as was designated by the Igad is yet to be reviewed and or lifted. According to Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (In Opposition)— SPLMIO, this should come sooner rather than later to enable Dr Machar’s return to Juba, to have close ground contact with President Kiir and his troops which is essential to resolving outstanding issues.
SPLM-IO director of information Puok Both Baluang told The EastAfrican on Thursday; “Dr Riek has been under unjust house confinement by the Igad since October 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa and was later transferred to Khartoum, Sudan on July 24, 2018.
Dr Machar is not a free man because his status has not been determined by the Igad heads of state. We believe the return of Dr Machar to Juba will depend on when this is resolved.”
Igad imposed the house arrest on Dr Machar to forestall any attempts on waging a war against President Kiir’s government from foreign soil.
This was after Dr Machar fled Juba following a shoot-out at the presidential palace J1, that President Kiir officially condemned as an attempted coup.
Dr Machar was later allowed to move to Khartoum in July 2018 to participate in the peace negotiations that led to the signing of the revitalised peace agreement in Addis Ababa in Sept 2018. The terms of the house arrest bar him from any external activities, including media engagements.
On July 11, President Kiir implored Dr Machar to return to Juba so that they can oversee implementation of the outstanding items of the peace agreement. He declined for security reasons. But Dr Machar has since visited Juba three times under the watch of the international community.
The first two visits were at the request of President Kiir through now deposed Sudan leader Omar Al-Bashir and his successor Gen Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan. The last visit last month was under the Security Council to discuss execution of the revitalised agreement.
Mr Baluang said the visits represented SPLM-IO’s goodwill in activating the agreement on the ground.
“It is the least expensive way to achieve security and stability. Prosperity is a prelude to restructuring a state with functional institutions and a democratic base, free from fragmentation, tribalism and corruption,” Mr Baluong said.
—By Mawahib Abdallatif, Aggrey Mutambo and Julius Barigaba