By Frank Kamuntu
South Sudan’s armed opposition faction (SPLM/A-IO) has welcomed calls from the United States and the United Kingdom for the urgent need to resolve outstanding issues before formation of a national unity government in November, under the theme ‘Celebrating the dawn of peace, appreciating friends, cherishing reconciliation and Unity.”
As gesture of fostering peace, forrmer first vice-president Riek Machar returned to South Sudan after two years in exile.
He returned for the celebration to end hostilities, joining a delegation of regional leaders including his excellence Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, president Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly for Egypt, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir President of Sudan, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo Mohamed of Somalia, Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, among others.
President Kiir and Machar, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in-opposition (SPLA-IO), inked the final peace deal mediated by Sudanese President Ahmad al-Bashir under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an east African bloc.
The 2015 peace agreement to end violence was violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital Juba, forcing Machar to flee into exile. Under the new peace deal signed last month, Machar will be Vice President and Salva Kiir’s deputy once again.
Statements issued by US and UK ambassadors on Monday, indicate that they remains fully committed to implementation of the revitalized peace agreement in letter and spirit.
It reads “In this spirit, the statements by the US and UK ambassadors, will go a long way in highlighting and curbing the intransigence of a regime which has been flaunting and contravening the Agreement with impunity since we first signed it in 2015,” partly reads the statement signed by the SPLM/A-IO public relations chairman,” Mabior Garang.
He added that “The SPLM/A-IO is fully committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict through the categorical implementation of the provisions of the deal, including its Chapter V on transitional justice, accountability, reconciliation and healing.”
South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, allegations the latter dismissed.
In September 2018, the rival factions involved in the conflict signed a peace deal to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over 2 million people in the country.
But the armed opposition militants also accused the Juba regime of “deliberately” imposing unreasonably outstanding issues, which, he stressed, have become stumbling blocks to the peace process.
The country’s main political party had earlier warned that it would not be part of the formation of a South Sudan’s transitional national unity government unless all the outstanding issues were resolved.
However, last week, the United Nations Security Council appealed to the parties to revitalize the peace agreement in South Sudan to continue meeting regularly to resolve outstanding substantive issues needed for the formation of a transitional national unity government.
The 15-member Council, in a statement, said the agreement signed in September last year, is a major step forward in the peace process and offers the real hope for peace and stability in Africa’s newest nation.
The South Sudan conflict has had a huge effect on trade. During stability, Uganda used to export over US700m worth of goods.
With the war, this has shrunk to a miserable US$200million and the war not affected trade but also led to the loss of lives of citizens, forcing them to refugee centres.ooh
Basing on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 85 per cent of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are women and children under the age of 18. Over a million South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
President Museveni advised the warring parties to rely on peace deals implemented so that they can return home and work hand in hand with government to re-shape their country.