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South Sudan: formation of unity government in limbo

02.11.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Some eight years ago, the world celebrated the birth of a new nation called South Sudan and the end of a long civil war. Many perceived the birth of a new era for the new country and its populace, said to have lived in misery while in connection to North Sudan. The philosophy was wrongly conceived as independence did not affect major changes. Independence or autonomy did not arrest the conflicts in Sudan.

Birth of a civil war

The fight to be at the helm has pitted South Sudan for six years now. The relegation of Riek Machar from the position of first vice president in 2013 opened a new phase of bitterness between two camps, that of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. This resentment transformed into a full-blown civil war with devastating effects felt by the vulnerable South Sudanese, caught in the middle of a power scrimmage. There were hopes for a fast solution in 2015 after both parties inked a ceasefire deal in the presence of the intergovernmental authority on development IGAD, with pressure from the United Nations. However, since then, the country has witnessed several deals and ceasefires which have failed to materialized, as the nation has remained in chaos till today. As stated by one political analyst and leadership advocate Walang Abang, it is difficult to find a concrete solution to the conflict in South Sudan because it is a war of personality between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. Hence, the intricacy of the conflict. The quest to end the war continued with Kiir’s camp and that of main rebel leader Machar signing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan-R-ARCSS in 2018. The latest deal stipulated for another ceasefire, the formation of a unity government and the appointment of five vice presidents.

UN intervention

Enormous efforts have come from both the African Union and the United Nations to settle the conflict that has killed and displaced millions of South Sudanese. The United Nations Security Council mission on October 20 challenged warring parties in South Sudan to form an inclusive government on November 12, 2019, a period meant to lead the country to hold a more democratic election. However, as the deadline draws closer, the opposition seems to be reluctant about engaging in the formation of the new administration. Expressing confidence that peace will soon return to South Sudan, Jerry Matthews Matjila, the South African ambassador to the UN and Council president for October said, “We noted the reduction of political violence which has contributed to the return of 594,000 displaced people, increased food production, enhanced humanitarian access, and increased commerce among communities,”. United States ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft also said; “There is an opportunity for the leaders of South Sudan to come to a political compromise and move forward to the next phase of the peace process in a credible, transparent and accountable manner.” Hence, the willingness to arrest the war can only come from Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.

Opposition calls for postponement of a new government

Hopes for the formation of a unity government on November 12 by South Sudan’s warring parties still hangs in the balance as main opposition leader Riek Machar has called for a six- month postponement in the formation of the much-awaited unity government. The extra six months would “give room” for resolving issues, the opposition claims. According to Riek Machar and his team, the government of President Salva Kiir has fallen short of the political will to implement the peace accord. Riek Machar argued that experts shouldn’t overlook the volatile situations at stake, which his camp wants to control. He said “The critical issues must be resolved. The security arrangements must be in place at least. If not, the ceasefire, which we have been enjoying for this whole year, will be ruptured, ‘’we want this country (South Sudan) to be peaceful,” he reiterated.

They have urged President Kiir to release funds he had agreed to spend on rolling out the accord. President Kiir however, did not react to Machar’s statement but has expressed readiness to form a new administration by November 12; calling on the opposition to shun resentment and embrace constructive talks. There is an African saying that goes; when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. This is a clear definition of what is happening in South Sudan for over five years. About 4.3 million people mainly children have been displaced and over 400.000 killed as a result of the political infighting in the country. Thus, the failure to form an inclusive government continues to pose a major threat to the vulnerable population. Conflicts and political unrest prevalent in present-day society is undermining the dream of a unified Africa.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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