South Sudan’s New Peace Deal Could Bring More War

BY: John Prendergast and Brian Adeba, The Daily Beast, SEP/12/2018, SSN;

Wednesday’s agreement is at its heart simply a crass division of the spoils between the rival factions with the biggest guns which the authors described as ‘kakocracy- meaning the “rule or government by the worst of the people.”

The peace deal signed today, September 12, 2018, between the government of South Sudan and armed opposition groups has significant shortcomings that could easily lead the country right back to full-scale war.

The South Sudanese have endured immense suffering in the last five years as the fighting has brought on food shortages and massive displacement. Nearly five million people have been forced out of their homes, inside and outside the country. Uncounted thousands are dead.

The country’s economy is a write-off. Double-digit inflation has ensured that millions are on a knife’s edge of survival and the risk of famine still looms large.

At the root of the conflict in South Sudan is the existence of a state whose institutions have been hijacked and repurposed to benefit a few top-level politicians.

Other groups, each clamoring for a bigger piece of the pie—or the whole of it—then engaged in a violent contest to capture the state, plunging the country into a deadly war.

Today’s agreement is at its heart simply a crass division of the spoils between the rival factions with the biggest guns.

It lacks meaningful checks and balances on executive overreach in a country in which the presidency already wields immense powers that are used mainly to loot the country’s resources and deploy extreme violence against opponents, whether military or civilian.

Beneath the veneer of power-sharing arrangements on a host of contentious issues, including state borders being redrawn by the regime to reinforce its control among regional and ethnic bases, lurk several articles that grant undue advantage to the chief executive.

Worst of all, this peace agreement lacks realistic outcomes on many of the most contentious issues.

Over the years, South Sudan’s vast oil revenues have been pocketed by high-level politicians and their families, carted out of the country and invested in high-value property and other businesses.

An inquiry into the root causes of the conflict by the African Union in 2015 identified corruption as a major driver of conflict in the country.

This looting of the public purse requires a solution that will stop politicians dipping into state coffers for their own financial benefit.

Yet in many aspects, the new peace deal fails to undo the theft of government revenue by entrusting the same politicians with final oversight on revenue spending without any meaningful restraint.

Beyond checks on executive power, any peace pact between armed protagonists is underpinned by its security arrangements.

With ambiguous, unrealistic, and unsustainable expectations, the current security arrangements are a mish-mash of stipulations that create doubt and uncertainty for the leaders of armed groups on the critical matter of security in the capital, Juba, and funding for the cantonment of insurgent fighters.

These challenges could unravel the whole agreement and plunge the country into another cycle of deadly violence.

The regional mediators behind this deal succeeded in getting the protagonists talking again and persuaded them to respect a signed ceasefire, but this could be nothing more that the lull before the big storm with the consequences looming on the horizon like a category five hurricane.

However, it need not be this way.

The United States, Europe, and other friends of the South Sudanese people must build more leverage to ensure implementation of a peace deal that addresses the systemic problems fueling the war.

The U.S holds the biggest potential stick. Recent U.S targeted sanctions on individuals and entities behind the war in South Sudan had some impact, giving the government an incentive to sign the current deal, but much greater pressure will be required for its implementation, and for good governance to have a chance.

What is required, specifically, is for the U.S. and other willing nations to impose sanctions on the networks of South Sudanese officials and their commercial collaborators who continue to loot the country’s resources, and to combine those sanctions with anti-money-laundering measures designed ultimately to deny the war criminals and their commercial collaborators access to the international banking system.

America and Europe must raise the cost to those facilitating the destruction of the world’s newest country as well as those benefiting from it, in particular the banking and real estate sectors in countries neighboring South Sudan.

Until the costs of war and chaos outweigh their benefits, the deadly status quo will remain, no matter what pieces of paper are signed. END

Brian Adeba is Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project; John Prendergast is Founding Director of the Enough Project and Co-Founder of The Sentry.


  1. Bala says:

    This peace is no problem. Both Prendergast and Brian Adeba are correct but they are talking to people with years of neglect from British and Arabs within Sudan. South Sudanese don’t have stories of exacting revenges on both the two colonial masters.
    Generations of Southern Sudan were not affected by the British but badly impacted by Arab Sudanese who came from the Middle East. They nevertheless took our culture away. South Sudanese speak their dialogues and skins remains the same due resistance. We are strong and will forever remain the same.

  2. Bala says:

    John Prendergast and Brian

    Though you are great intelligent people, convince the KKK that it is a prejudice to mistreated People such as African American people whom you took out of no resistance from their Africans who love them dearily then mistreated them
    Infront of own white friends. Is this better than Usher entertaining you?

  3. Tyson says:

    Dear Prendergast and Adeba
    Your analysis is correct and no doubt about it. It is the fools and beneficiaries of the failed regime in Juba who will try to celebrate the fake and forced half baked peace agreement.
    First of all, the agreement is a looting machinery by both Kampala and Khartoum to suck all the resource of South Sudan. The two dictators (Kampala and Khartoum) will loot South Sudan mercilessly, while at the same time rewarding their people with jobs in South Sudan. This is will reduce their domestic pressure at the expense of poor South Sudanese.
    Secondly, the agreement is aimed to neutralize all the key opponents of the current regime should they dire to come to Juba in the name of peace. There is no guarantee to this signed piece of paper. Those opposing this useless regime and foolishly signed the so-called “dustbin agreement”; please prepare for your miserable funeral should you attempt to come to Juba.
    The Troika should not release any single dollar to these thieves neither should they honour this agreement. The same thieves are trying to reward themselves, while South Sudanese are dying daily like unfortunate flies.
    God have mercy on us.

    • Mor-Amook says:

      Dear Tyson,
      Which type of peace agreement that would have brought lasting peace in South Sudan for those of you to be optimistic and confident that there will be no longer war? I guess the only peace you are looking for, is the peace to divide South into three countries, Equatoria, Bhar el Gazal and Upper that would only bring lasting peace. Another type of peace for you to back is the peace that removes Kiir and Machar in power or TGoNU and give your supporters authority to lead TGoNU.

      My friend, you are outside South Sudan, and let me tell you one thing. people back home have had enough, tied and do not have interest to fight among themselves in favor of any leader. Let’s start to build confidence and trust among ourselves and accept one another that we are one people living in a define territory. There is no way to depart one another. We can correct ourselves as we continue. The next generation will make South Sudan a Great Nation. So, let’s hope the peace will hold, and let’s keep praying to God to keep this peace. No one can analyze or predict the future, only God.

      God says in the Bible, ask and I will give you. So, if we call for peace within our heart and spirit, God will listen to us. But if we are not, God will give us what is in our hearts and minds.

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