Fo­rum of­fers win­dow for South Su­dan peace

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

JUBA: East African min­is­ters met in Juba on Mon­day to help re­vi­talise the peace process in South Su­dan.

The In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Au­thor­ity on De­vel­op­ment (Igad) said the planned High Level Re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion Fo­rum pro­vides war­ring par­ties with an op­por­tu­nity for the broad­est con­sul­ta­tion and in­clu­siv­ity to end the more than three years of con­flict.

The chair­per­son of the Igad Coun­cil of Min­is­ters, Workneh Ge­beyehu, told re­gional lead­ers and diplo­mats the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion fo­rum would help re­store a per­ma­nent cease­fire and cre­ate a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for broad con­sul­ta­tions among the war­ring par­ties.

“The re­vi­talised fo­rum is not a fresh rene­go­ti­a­tion or ne­go­ti­a­tion to im­ple­ment the Agree­ment on Res­o­lu­tion of Con­flict in South Su­dan (Arcss) rather it is a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity for all South Su­danese stake­hold­ers to re­turn or join the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Au­gust 2015 peace agree­ment,” he said.

“I would like to call upon the tran­si­tional unity gov­ern­ment and other par­ties and non-par­ties of the Arcss to lay their arms down and join the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of the peace process once again.”

Ge­beyehu said the fo­rum, which would in­clude all armed op­po­si­tion groups, would ex­plore all in­clu­sive, peace­ful ways to fully im­ple­ment the weak­ened Au­gust 2015 peace deal with­out any con­di­tions.

The fo­rum is also ex­pected to de­velop a re­al­is­tic time­line to­wards demo­cratic elec­tion at the end of a tran­si­tional pe­riod, he said.

Igad’s ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary, Mah­boub Malim, said re­gional lead­ers had de­vel­oped a modus operandi for the fo­rum and had in­ter­acted with mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety, faith-based or­gan­i­sa­tions and women and youth. “A lot of ideas were gen­er­ated.” Geb­weyehu also called for im­me­di­ate de­ploy­ment of a lon­gawaited Re­gional Pro­tec­tion Force.

Fes­tus Mo­gae, the chair­per­son of the Joint Mon­i­tor and Eval­u­a­tion Com­mis­sion which mon­i­tors peace in South Su­dan, urged all par­ties to re­store the per­ma­nent cease­fire by re­nounc­ing vi­o­lence. How­ever, he noted that al­though some progress had been made, the per­ma­nent con­sti­tu­tion-mak­ing process was be­hind sched­ule and the lack of gen­der balance in the gov­ern­ment needed to be tack­led.

South Su­dan de­scended into vi­o­lence in De­cem­ber 2013 af­ter a po­lit­i­cal dis­pute be­tween Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir and his for­mer deputy Riek Machar led to fight­ing that pit­ted mostly Dinka eth­nic sol­diers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer eth­nic group.

The 2015 peace agree­ment to end the vi­o­lence was vi­o­lated in July 2016 when the ri­val fac­tions re­sumed fight­ing in the cap­i­tal, forc­ing Machar into ex­ile. The con­flict has killed tens of thou­sands of peo­ple and dis­placed mil­lions. Xin­hua

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