Magazine article New African

Is a UN Trusteeship the Solution?

Magazine article New African

Is a UN Trusteeship the Solution?

Article excerpt

With the virtual collapse of the 2015 peace deal, South Sudan's civil war has acquired dangerous new dimensions as the government recruits ethnic militias. A new approach is urgently needed, argues Fred Oloch.

South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, is bullish that his newly found rapport with former rebel negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, who he appointed as the vice president in August, is working and that they are busy implementing the August 2015 peace agreement.

The government believes that power sharing with the rebel leader Dr Riek Machar could not work because he was acting like a parallel president, and that his new partnership with Gai has moved the implementation process forward, with the establishment of cantonment areas for troops, the reconstitution of parliament, the election of the Speaker and the establishment of the electoral review committee.

But facts on the ground tell a different story as the civil war has morphed into a larger anti-Dinka campaign spreading to the three Equatoria provinces that were previously peaceful.

Insecurity has increased as the government recruits ethnic militias commonly known as Mathiang Anyoor to defend itself.

The chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Yasmin Sooka, at the close of last year warned that there is already a steady process of ethnic cleansing underway in several areas of South Sudan.

In the meantime, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which mediated the peace agreement, seems to have left the people of South Sudan to their own fate--especially after fresh fighting erupted in Juba in July last year.

Former Botswana president, Festus Mogae, who is the chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) tasked with overseeing the implementation, has been struggling as the government continues with business as usual, as if the main partner in the peace agreement, Dr Machar--who is in exile in South Africa--no longer matters.

Jervasio Okot, a South Sudan political analyst based in Kenya, says that it is time for the international community to face reality and accept that there is no implementation going on, and open a new chapter by reviewing the whole agreement and its implementation mechanisms.

A number of concerned parties have been brainstorming on the way forward, as both the Kiir government, which signed the agreement with 19 reservations, and rebel leader Dr Machar concur that the agreement has collapsed and there is a need to revisit some articles that are difficult to implement, such as the security arrangements and the existence of two armies with different commands.

Lam Jok, the Sudanese Peoples' Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) representative in Kenya is convinced that Kiir has essentially thrown aside the agreement and is operating unilaterally with the help of Mr Gai, whom the opposition say defected to the government and does not represent the armed opposition. He suggests renegotiation of the agreement in a neutral country if South Sudan is to move forward.

But John Andruga Duku, who is in charge of foreign organisations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will have none of it. "The South Sudan government will not accept renegotiations because the international community rejected our reservations before President Kiir signed the agreement. The implementation process is progressing well and the only challenge is that donors have refused to fund certain aspects such as economic, judicial and constitutional and civil service reforms," says Duku. …

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