Forum offers window for South Sudan peace
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