S. Sudan faces long road to genuine peace despite signing agreement


The peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir and his rival Dr Riek Machar to end 20 months of fighting in South Sudan is a useful first step but many challenges remain for Africa’s youngest country.

First is the deal itself. President Kiir’s refusal to sign the deal in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on August 17 – the deadline set by the region and the international community, and the day Machar signed – was seen by many as a sign of strength. It was anything but.

Without the presence of Ugandan troops, hurried in to prop up his faltering regime when the fighting broke out in mid-December 2013, it is unlikely that Mr Kiir would still be in power. His inability to defeat the renegade forces military or isolate them politically left him weak and vulnerable to internal revolt from within his government.

It is not clear whether President Kiir would have signed the deal had the UN Security Council not threatened to take immediate action if he walked away from a peace process that had blown hot and cold until world powers, especially the United States, drew a line in the sand.

The terms of the deal, which broadly allow for a power-sharing transitional government, set up a demilitarised zone in the capital Juba and whittle down executive authority, reflect the power balance in the country but one that neither side acknowledges.

Mr Kiir must now hand over enough power to make the deal hold, while retaining enough not to undermine his own position.

Although Mr Machar was quick to sign the deal, he did so with his coalition beginning to fall apart, with key top commanders withdrawing their support for and confidence in him, and the peace process. His credibility and his place at the table depends on his ability to bring all or the most important renegades into the tent.

Secondly, the success of the deal depends on the ability of the two principals to find common ground in a movement with a long history of divisionism. This divisionism has long manifested itself in tribal warlordism and, since December 2013, in broad ethnic warfare between President Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer communities.

The emotional wounds of the massacres of Neur in Juba and the reprisal killings of Dinka remain sore to the touch. To resolve this, the two main principals will have to do de-escalate their disagreements from a military to a political confrontation, and to build national consensus across tribal lines, and beyond the margins of the SPLA/M.

Yet, having fallen back to personal and tribal militia, a sadly routine modus operandi, this would require them to relinquish their power bases and show the kind of long-sighted nationalism that neither has hitherto demonstrated.

The warlords in South Sudan will have to be encouraged to hand over their personal militia into a new force that, with time and training, could slowly begin to look like a national army – one that doesn’t disintegrate into tribal militia at the first sign of political disagreement.

Thirdly, and in addition to this, the demilitarisation will have to be accompanied by a process of political reform to build the institutions required to check executive authority, such as Parliament, civil society and the media, while expanding the diversity of views to political actors and groups outside the SPLA/M.

The origin of the current crisis can be found in internal dissent over the rampant corruption, abuse of office and impunity within the government. Only deep reforms will cure the underlying governance deficit.

Crucially, improved governance will create the conditions necessary for those responsible for some of the most egregious episodes of violence, including the deliberate targeting of civilians by both sides documented by an UN Panel of Experts, to be held accountable.

Breaking this cycle of violence is important. “Lack of accountability for decades of violence during Sudan’s long civil war helped fuel the conflict,” Human Rights Watch notes.


“Military and political leaders on all sides have failed to make any serious attempt to reduce abuses committed by their forces, or to hold them to account.”

Fourth, and most urgent, is the humanitarian crisis that the country has suffered for decades, and which the renewed fighting exacerbated.

According to the UN, thousands have been killed and 1.6 million forced to flee their homes. Many remain in UN-supported camps, too frightened to return to their homes. Resettlement of internally displaced persons and those who fled into neighbouring countries is a top priority, as is the provision of basic services in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The UN estimates that 6.4 million people are in need in South Sudan, including 2.5 million people without enough food to eat, and 235,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Rebuilding a country is a hard task in the best of times. It is extremely difficult in the current economic landscape where the price of crude oil, which contributes more than 90 per cent of government’s revenues, is at record lows and not expected to rise significantly in the foreseeable future. END


  1. Tyson says:

    Countries with meagre resources compared to South Sudan are able to develop. South Sudan is governed by hyenas and wolves who have no clue of leadership, nationalism, patriotism, etc. These two notorious tribes are perpetually living on handouts, justification for continuous relief from time immemorial to date.
    The loot that the ugly Jenge and Naath politicians and primitive/illiterate generals scoop from the national coffers could have been used to improve agriculture, modernize their cattle camps, etc. In fact these resources could make these people semi-human beings rather than remaining as wild creatures for generations!!! They indeed could have metamorphosed one step further towards civility because these communities do not know how to relate to others.
    We welcome accountability even dating back to the criminal error of so called “liberation war” when our daughters and sisters were killed because they refused to be raped by these idiots. I am finalizing my dossier aganist some of them. These criminals should also know that there are save havens in East Africa and beyond. They will run but we will catch and roast them!!!!!

  2. Eastern says:

    Bwana Kalinaki,

    Museveni your country’s president spoke about the need for South Sudanese leaders to keep foreigners and the UN of the country. That he empasized was only possible if leaders worth their names show leadership. He further drove his point comparing this with a feuding family in a serene community where one spouse would not be allowed to batter the other at the watch of neighbours. This was meant to absolve Uganda’s early intervention to prop up Kiir’s government.

    Now that Kiir’s power at the centre and the Greater Upper Nile regions has been largely reduced, and it’s not certain what will befall the other so-called peaceful States during the implementation period. It’s not true that those states were neutral in the conflict; the agreement assumes that they support the sitting government though recent events including the dismissal of 4 governors of Central EQuatoria, Western Equatoria, Warrap and Northern BAhr el Ghazal all point to the level of political instabilities in these states. SPLA-IG and SPLA-io should work together to implement the signed accord to its fruition. Uganda should be overly obsessed with its ‘security and territorial’ concerns to the extend of rocking the boat.

  3. Guet Athina Guet says:

    Dinkas and Nuer need to come together to build this country, and all other tribes must be included in this peace deal. The country doesn’t belong to Dinkas/Nuer but to all southerns. Now the peace is signed, would the butcher control his generals, they don’t trust him to lead, some of his officers left for Khartoum already. I hope the peace hold this time.
    May god bless president Kiir and keep him safe and may god bless south Sudan.

  4. Daniel Kalinika,

    There is no any agreement on earth that can be sign with reservation. Agreement may not be perfect and there is no any agreement that can be accepted without any hitch. When you sign an accord, it may be imperfect, but by inking it publicly means that you are committed to its imperfection. I am assure president Salva Kiir is committed, he will honor it, and he will see its implementation perfectly. Should he play game, he will face the wrath of international communities. Ugandan troops in the country is an open sour in south Sudan economy. Had Ugandan acted as the rest of IGAD countries with unwavering support for peace, south Sudan could be a different nation today. But M7 of Uganda acted like a wounded cowboy. His hatred of Dr.Riach Machar and dubious interest in south Sudan gave him the most desirable opportunity to enter the country in a wrong way to steal our resources. Now we have over 10 thousands Uganda troops in south Sudan, do we really need them? Not at all. We have been demilitarized since 2013 by Uganda troops. They started coming in the country since 2000 to flush out Joseph Kony (LRA) but they failed. In December (2013) more troops came to fight Dr. Riach Machar (white armies), they also failed. Now they resorted in stealing our resources, wealth, and grabbing our land. Yesterday, the Uganda minister of state for foreign affairs Mr. Henry Okello Oryem announced that “Uganda troops will not leave south Sudan because they have a military pack with south Sudan government.” Well, the agreement is clear “all foreign troops must leave south Sudan within 45 days.” Indeed, rebuilding a country is a hard task but it is better that we learn building our nation in a hard way. South Sudan is not a satellite state of Uganda, we are a sovereign nation. What we need is burring our differences, so that we can built our nation without foreign occupation. I mean those who come to steal our resources in the name of bringing peace and development.

  5. Francis Mangok Angeir says:

    Dear Brothers and sisters,

    I listened to Dr. Marin Alia Lomoro interviewed this morning and I truly thanks him for his loyalty and contribution to his country South Sudan. Dr. Martin Alia said independence alone without economic development would not help us to progress. He also said as leader and son of this country I cannot use my tribes as resources to get power, but I can use my knowledge to help my country, my people. Can you be like Dr. Martin Alia the Minister of Cabinet Affair. Keep up Dr. Martin you are still very young and we will keep our eyes on you. We need leaders who think about the country, but not leaders who think about themselves and their tribes to invade and destroy the country in the names of their tribes.

    Brothers and sisters this is a time for the country development, but not a time for the tribes development. We have to leave behind the tribalism and look the way forward to develop our country. Do not always fight for stupid war to destroy the country especially we Dinka and Nuer. We sacrifices to fight North in order to get our identity, prosperity and security, but we try to destroy because of personal interest. Please you Nuer and Dinka you have to avoid this stupid war and come together in order to develop your country. Thank you and God bless you.

    • Guet Athina Guet says:

      Mr. Angeir,

      For ones I agree with you, Dinka and Nuer community will get alone just fine, if it was not for their self appointed prophet of doom. However, you failed to mention the cancer (the butcher) who course all the suffering in south Sudan. Not one but twice … the butcher of south Sudan Machar has murdered 30000 Dinkas 1991 and it should not be forgotten. Get rid of the serial killer and south Sudan will have peace … Machar must face justices by any means necessary.

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