South Sudan’s recently signed revitalized peace agreement is on course and that the country needs regional support to help achieve key outstanding issues like cantonment and unification of the army, officials have said.
Mawien Makol Ariik, foreign affairs ministry spokesman said that the positive progress so far achieved on peace won’t be derailed by a few doubters who think the warring parties will return to war, citing delays in speeding up creation of cantonment sites and unification of the army.
“There are people out there who don’t want South Sudan to succeed in this peace but the government is determined to ensure peace is implemented,” he told Xinhua on Saturdayin Juba. Ariik’s remarks came barely a week after global policy group, the International Crisis Group (ICG), said disagreements between the government and main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) under Riek Machar, on key outstanding issues would fail the peace deal signed in September 2018 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
According to the think tank, the peace deal risks collapsing if the warring parties don’t assemble, screen and unify their armies. However, Ariik said the peace deal is moving on the right track despite delays due to lack of funding.
“The time is finished; it’s only 60 days left for the new government to be in place. We still have issues of cantonment although now we have pushed very hard and we are doing well,” said Ariik.
He said regional support is very crucial to enable the peace partners move forward with peace implementation. “We are asking friendly countries to still come up and help us with support so that we unify the army, complete cantonment, we do security arrangements and we will be able to complete what we need to complete before we set up the government,” he added. He also said they are not opposed to prosecution of individuals allegedly indicted by the UN for committing war crimes during the conflict, but that peace should be prioritized before justice is done.
The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan recently said it has listed 23 individuals who could face serious crimes related to violations committed during the five-year-long conflict. It said these individuals along with previously identified perpetrators could face justice in courts around the world, not just in South Sudan.
South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world. A peace agreement signed in 2015 to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital Juba, forcing Machar to flee into exile. The United Nations estimates that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.