South Sudan old rivals ‘end war’, again!!

BY: Peter Martell, AFRICA REVIEW, APR/28/2016, SSN;

The metal gates are still twisted where troops in December 2013 stormed the house of South Sudan’s now new Vice-President Riek Machar, as war erupted leaving tens of thousands dead.

But on Tuesday, just a stone’s throw away in his heavily-guarded state house, President Salva Kiir called the matter an “incident” as he welcomed the rebel chief turned “brother” Machar back to Juba, saying his return marked “the end of the war and the return of peace and stability”.

Peace doves were released, and after Dr Machar was sworn into office, the two men stood alongside each other with hands on hearts, as a red-coated band played the national anthem, “God bless South Sudan”.

Hopes are high but the challenges — and the expectations the new government will swiftly solve them — are huge, analysts warn.

Many are cautious, pointing out that the pair have previously fallen out, fought, made up and fought again.

Was sacked

Dr Machar, who returned to the post of vice-president that he was sacked from five months before war broke out, said he wanted to work for “full implementation” of an August 2015 agreement “to make sure peace breaks out all over the country”.

For now, the war-weary population appears to be breathing a sigh of relief that for once, there is some hope for peace.

“We want the killing to stop,” said Ms Teresa Nyadet in Juba, a 58-year old mother of eight, one of over 180,000 living behind the razor wire protection of UN bases across the country.

“We women, we want peace in South Sudan, and Dr Machar must make sure the kind of life we are in stops.”

The next few weeks will be critical for persuading people the country has turned a corner.

The camp

“I am happy that Riek Machar has come, as this means that we are now going to get out of the camp,” said Ms Elizabeth Akol, a mother of four, also at a UN base in Juba.

“We are tired and have suffered a lot.”

The conflict, which has torn open ethnic divisions, has been characterised by horrific rights abuses, including gang rapes, the wholesale burning of villages and cannibalism.

Ensuring that the sides work together in a unity government, and that the thousands of rival armed forces now in separate camps inside the capital keep their guns quiet, will be an even bigger challenge.

Both sides remain deeply suspicious, and there is continued fighting between multiple militia forces who now pay no heed to either President Kiir or Dr Machar.

Mr Jok Madut Jok, who heads the Juba-based Sudd Institute think-tank, warned the return was only one of many steps.

“The people of South Sudan may be holding their breath for the war to end… but I think they should also be cautious not to let down their guard,” Mr Jok said.

Rebel leaders

Both President Kiir and Dr Machar are former rebel leaders who rose to power during Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war between north and south — a conflict in which two men fought each other — before South Sudan won independence in 2011.

Mr Jok warned the old rivals “may disagree on several things along the way of the implementation, and that could easily return the country to a very messy situation”.

Dr Machar’s return to a country awash with weapons was stalled for a week by arguments that at one point came down to a dispute over some two dozen rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that his security detail was allowed to have.

The pair now face far bigger problems.

The profits

The economy is in ruins, inflation has eroded savings and salaries, and without another round of massive international support there is little cash to rebuild and prove that the profits of peace are better than those of war.

With more than five million people in need of aid and more than two million forced to flee their homes, aid agencies who are struggling to support them said they welcomed any move towards peace but that the crisis was far from over.

“Though the peace process resolves some national level political disputes, it does not resolve escalating humanitarian and protection needs on the ground,” said Mr Victor Moses, who runs the Norwegian Refugee Council aid agency in the country.

Others warned that without justice to address the horrific abuses carried out by all sides, reconciliation would not be possible and hatred would fester.

Mr John Prendergast, who played a key role in drumming up US-backing for South Sudan’s independence in 2011 and who now runs the Enough Project campaign group, warned the root causes of the conflict remained unaddressed.

Deadly patterns

“Forming a government with the same actors responsible for the collapse of the economy and atrocities holds open the possibility that grand corruption will return to its pre-war patterns,” Mr Prendergast said.

“Without an emphasis on consequences for gross corruption and atrocities, it’s unlikely the deadly patterns will be broken,” he added.

But it is the best chance yet for peace. Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, the Episcopalian Archbishop of South Sudan, has spent decades overseeing peace efforts in South Sudan.

“Now is the time for forgiveness, because we have to put all this behind us,” said Archbishop Bul.

“Let’s give peace a chance.” (AFP)

5 Comments

  1. Gatdarwich says:

    Peter,

    The political survival marriage between the President Killer NyanKiir and F.V.P. Dr. Riek is very fragile. How it will survive the 20 plus months of transitional period is highly unpredictable.
    It can miraculously disappoints those who wish it sudden death or it can catastrophically die as many unpatriotic individuals devilishly wish so!
    But, for me, Gatdarwich, I truly believe that almighty Ngundeng is in charge, and will instill the spirit of brotherly love in both leaders and their errant followers!

  2. Indeed, serious war crimes have been committed by the leaders of south Sudan. People suspected and proved to have committed crimes against innocent people shouldn’t be allowed to serve in government of national unity.

  3. alex says:

    There are many dangers brothers and sisters.
    Even the danger of splits within the parties can cause a serious sad back. I hope the wild rumours that Riack Mackar and Taban Gai Deng circulating in the social media should not be true. There is a big problem with our people. We need God’s mercy with the issue of hate, lairs , allegations, spoiling other people’s names and accusing our own brothers to foreigners with the hope of getting favour from the white people.
    We also want to let the media the harm and the destruction they are doing to our social fabrics. Most of the hate is preached in the media in the name of freedom of speech. The temptation of getting funding and money has made our media to look for news that pleases their funders. They did not know they are selling out their own country. I read an article where a s. Sudan journals criticising our police of arresting a UN staff of driving without a safety belt as a harassment of the UN staff in S. Sudan and lack of respect. Just let God helps us. Betraying the image of your own country because just you do not want the government.

  4. Deng Monymor says:

    Alex,

    You said it all brother! This is the thing, it is all about funding nowadays than patriotism. Some fake Journalists rose to the top and have gained scholarship which they do not deserve in terms of their intellectual capabilities because of this business. What they called “freedom of speech” is thing but the freedom of selling out. Even Vatican has engaged in this activity with its priests and Church laymen.

  5. Amum Machar says:

    This government should not be called ” Government of National Unity,” it is the government of the disunity, because it has sadden others politicians who are not good represented in that Government! it was done for the interest of Mr. President Kiir, Mr. Machar ‘s group, Equatoria, and Shilluk as well are celebrating. They owned the Government as their properties. Therefore, the reaction is that others invisible groups are disappointed!

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