Africa bloc meets to up South Sudan peace process

EYEAFRICA TV: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AA) – The international community has appealed to South Sudan to expedite the implementation of a 2018 peace deal, with only three months remaining before the pre-transition period to form a government ends.

The appeal was made during a consultative meeting that began in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday on the status of implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS); a deal that gave a new lease of life to a failed 2015 agreement. Participants urge South Sudan to speed up formation of transitional government and hold elections.
Based on the agreement, which was signed in Addis Ababa in September 2018 under the mediation of East Africa’s 8-nation trading and security bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the South Sudanese government and opposition should have formed a transitional government in May leading to elections in 30 months.
The pre-transitional period was extended by another six months up until Nov. 12, but many issues remain pending particularly concerning security arrangements, federal state formation and military movement.
The prospect of peace in South Sudan has never been less certain. This is despite the fact that a peace agreement was signed less than year ago. The 2018 settlement revived a failed 2015 agreement between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.
The 2015 agreement collapsed in less than a year. Two more years of fighting left one-third of the pre-war population forcibly displaced and more than half food insecure.
Ismail Wais, IGAD special envoy for South Sudan, said: “After three months and 18 days since the consultation meeting that resolved to extend the pre-transition period was held, progress has been minimal. So far not a single cantonment site has been operationalized although in the past few weeks there has been some encouraging progress,” he said of the clause in the agreement that compels army units to confine themselves in camps and barracks.
Another point on which the signatories to the agreement have not reached consensus is determination of the number of regional states and their boundaries. “The Independent Boundaries Commission,” Wais said, and added, “Has completed its work but was not able to reach on consensus on the number of states.”
“Therefore, today we find ourselves in the same position/situation that we were in more than three months ago, and hence it is once again left to the parties to have a frank discussion and chart the way forward,” he concluded.
The consultative meeting is being attended by delegates of South Sudanese government and opposition as well as representatives of African Union, IGAD, the UN, EU, Troika (a partnership of United Kingdom, U.S. and Norway), and China.
South Sudan slid into political crisis when President Salva Kiir sacked Riek Machar as vice president in December 2013 on suspicion of plotting a coup, an event that was followed by a protracted civil war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and forcing four million people to flee their homes.
According to reports, the five years of fighting between the two leaders crippled the country, with instances of mass rape, millions being displaced and almost 400,000 people dead from violence and disease.
Meanwhile, participants of the meeting urged Kiir and his main political opponent Machar to meet face-to-face as soon as possible in a bid to give the peace process a meaningful push.

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