South Sudan to mark hollow peace deal of missteps

Sunday September 08 2019

South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir signing the peace deal on August 5, 2018 in Khartoum. PHOTO | AFP


South Sudan will mark the first anniversary of the peace agreement on September 12 but the implementation process remains a challenge.

The proposed regular face-to-face meeting between the main protagonists—President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr Riek Machar—has not been happening, while the number of states and security arrangements remains the two biggest challenges.

This comes as reports emerge that both sides have continued to recruit new fighter and militia groups with Juba currently virtually controlled by militias despite the agreement requiring demilitarisation of major towns.

Sudan Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok has offered to supervise a face-to-face meeting between President Kiir and Dr Machar in Juba in the near future.

President Kiir has been insisting that face-to-face meetings have to be held in Juba because the peace agreement has been signed and the opposition leaders should not fear for their lives.

James Oryema, the SPLM-IO representative in Kenya said that Dr Machar is ready for a meeting that would bring total peace to South Sudan.


The cantonment remains slow and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development had in August directed that at least 50 per cent of the 83,000 unified forces be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed before the end of September.

Since the agreement was signed on September 12, 2018, government forces clashed with those of the National Salvation Front, led by Gen Thomas Cirillo, who refused to sign the deal because it did not address the root causes of the conflict and federalism.

Military confrontation

The body monitoring the ceasefire, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism last week expressed concerns over military confrontation incidents involving non-signatories to the peace agreement in Aweil East, Raja and Yei River State areas.

Aly Verjee is a senior adviser at the US Institute of Peace, said that the ceasefire monitors in South Sudan presumed that accurate reporting of truce violations will deter future violations.

But undermining the utility of monitoring are a general lack of commitment of the parties to their obligations and to an independent monitoring process, acceptance of the parties of the monitoring outcomes, and—most critical—a lack of meaningful consequences for serious violations.

“Monitoring efforts have also been beset by operational, organisational, and technical deficits that include poor leadership, inexperienced and unqualified monitors and a lack of force protection,” he said.

Six-month extension

Mr Verjee, who was the deputy of the then chief of staff of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission from 2015 to 2016, said that the co-operation with the UN and Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission has often been inadequate.

Further, efforts to publicly disseminate monitors’ findings and communicate with citizens have been limited and inconsistent.

“A sustained public information campaign across the country, including greater efforts to solicit information from the public, would improve the quality of the monitoring process,” he added.

In May, the rival parties agreed on a six-month extension to implement the next steps in the fragile peace agreement.

The latest extension came after the main opposition group threatened to boycott formation of a unity government on May 12. The signatories are supposed to form a transitional government of national unity on November 12.

Meanwhile, Gen Cirillo, former chief of general staff, Gen Paul Malong and some former detainees have formed a new alliance under the banner of United South Sudan Opposition Movements, which they say, is a unified position to address the conflict.