South Sudan’s top political leadership is optimistic that the latest peace agreement will hold.
However, citizens are only holding on to hope that the leaders mean what they said at a celebration of the agreement in Juba on October 31.
Experts in South Sudan politics say the presence of main opposition leader Riek Machar at the celebration is a sign that the leadership may be serious about implementing the agreement signed in Addis Ababa on September 12.
“Some people still have doubts, but for Dr Machar to have gone to Juba without any incident after being literally chased out of town in July 2016, is a very good sign. South Sudanese are now waiting to see whether they will match their words with action,” said Jervasio Okot, a South Sudan political analyst living in Kenya.
The mood at the Dr John Garang Museum was positive, with the crowd dancing and smiling. President Salva Kiir apologised on behalf of the warring parties for the misery the war has caused citizens.
“Dr Riek Machar and I and all the opposition leaders who signed the agreement have forgiven each other. We consciously decided to move this country forward. I want to reiterate, in front of all of you and in the presence of all the African and world dignitaries, that the war in South Sudan has come to an end,” said President Kiir.
He then ordered the release of Dr Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, who had been sentenced to death.
But Dr Machar, whose security was to be guaranteed by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, flew back to Khartoum the same evening and will only return after the end of the pre-transition period, in eight months.