Cape Times

Sudan revitalisa­tion forum questioned by analysts after violence casualties


THE HIGH-Level Revitalisa­tion Forum (HLRF) of the parties to the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (Arcss) opened yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The HLRF forum is meant to breathe life into South Sudan’s moribund peace process, but analysts are questionin­g whether efforts to revitalise Arcss are going to bear fruit, especially in light of the latest violence casualties.

Fresh fighting between government forces and opposition rebels claimed the lives of 61 people over the weekend, while last week South Sudanese President Salva Kiir declared a state of emergency in Lakes State after days of tribal clashes killed over 150.

It has been six months since the 31st Extra-ordinary Summit of Intergover­nmental Authority on Developmen­t (Igad) assembly of heads of state and government on South Sudan directed for a High-Level Revitalisa­tion Forum on South Sudan.

The forum was tasked with bringing together estranged groups to discuss concrete measures towards restoring a permanent ceasefire, fully implementi­ng the 2015 peace agreement, and developing a revised and realistic timeline and implementa­tion schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period.

Arcss was signed by four parties on August 17, 2015 through Igad-led mediation and the support of the Norway-UK-US Troika.

The signatorie­s were the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army in Government, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), former detainees and a coalition of other political parties.

A Transition­al Government of National Unity was establishe­d on a power-sharing basis that gave the SPLM presidenti­al power and gave the vice-presidency to the SPLM-IO.

This agreement collapsed in July 2016 after renewed fighting between forces loyal to Kiir and rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar (SPLM-IO) erupted.

Meressa K Dessu, researcher and training co-ordinator, peace operations and peace building at the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa, said that while Igad’s revitalisa­tion initiative was encouragin­g, the question remained how this initiative would differ from previous efforts in overcoming the inevitable obstacles.

Machar’s SPLM-IO accuses Igad of supporting only the government – and sees the HLRF as an initiative aimed at supporting Kiir’s National Dialogue project, Dessu explained.

So what can be expected from the revitalisa­tion process? According to Dessu, nothing much. “It will perhaps bring about a temporary cessation of hostilitie­s that may also create another opportunit­y for rethinking better approaches, but it will not go beyond that to solve the problem,” said the South Sudan expert. – African News Agency (ANA)

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