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U.S. A-Raises concern over growing tensions

Dr Machar shakes hands with President Kiir

By James Atem Kuir

The United States of America on Tuesday expressed concern over ‘growing political tensions in the country and urged President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar to respect their obligations under the Revitalized Peace Agreement.

Tensions heightened from the beginning of last week after Dr. Machar’s SPLM/A-IO withdrew from peace mechanisms over alleged deliberate attacks on its positions including Upper Nile and Unity States by the SSPD Forces.

In a statement, the US State Department urged the two leaders to de-escalate tensions and resume implementation of the long-delayed key provisions of the peace deal including drafting a permanent constituting and enacting electorate laws.

“The United States notes with concern the growing tensions in South Sudan, including recent clashes between the South Sudan People’s Defense Force’s (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement-In Opposition (SPLA/M-IO) in Upper Nile state. 

“We call for both sides to observe fully their obligations under the existing peace agreement and note that inflammatory rhetoric is counterproductive and should cease immediately,” the US State Department said, urging the SPLM/A-IO to reverse its withdrawal from the mechanism under the peace deal.

“The United States calls on President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar to do their utmost to de-escalate tensions and to uphold their respective obligations under the 2018 peace agreement, including its ceasefire provisions. 

“We call on both leaders to resume implementation of long-delayed key provisions of the revitalized peace agreement, including taking the necessary steps to establish an inclusive process to draft a new constitution, to establish necessary electoral legislation and mechanisms, and to respect the freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly,” the statement said.

Following the withdrawal of the SPLM/A-IO from R-JMEC and various other mechanisms last week, President Kiir relinquished five positions in the SSPDF and the National Police Service in an attempt to break the deadlock over sharing of responsibility in the unified command.

The move to break the long-running deadlock suffered setbacks after the SPLM/A-IO refused to accept the offer saying President Kiir did not consult all the stakeholders. Fears heightened among civilians after heavily armed troops were deployed in parts of Juba including around the residence of the opposition leader, Dr. Machar.

However, in a news conference on Monday, President Kiir said the deployment was a normal routine meant to deter criminals who may take the advantage of the situation to cause panic.

The US, alongside fellow Troikacountries Norway and UK, recently condemned the SSPDF for the attacks on SPLM/A-IO in parts of the Upper Nile region saying such acts were destabilizing and risk return to greater violence.

“We urge regional states and institutions, namely the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), that are guarantors of the revitalized peace agreement to take swift action to lower tensions and put the peace process back on track prior to the expiry of the already extended transition period in February 2023,” added the US statement.

The US government blamed President Kiir and Dr. Machar for the current tensions in the country saying the two leaders did little to genuinely implement the peace agreement in the letter and spirit.

“All sides bear responsibility for the deteriorating situation.  Neither President Kiir nor First Vice President Machar has made good faith efforts to implement the provisions of the revitalized peace agreement both have resisted serious attempts to move towards the peace, security, and prosperity which South Sudanese continue to desire.”

“Furthermore, numerous other political leaders also failed to carry out their official responsibilities and many engaged in political violence and otherwise violate the letter and spirit of the peace agreement. We call on all members of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity to take the actions necessary to be seen as credible in the eyes of the South Sudanese people, starting with full adherence to and implementation of the 2018 peace agreement,” The US said.

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