One year anniversary of the Peace Agreement
Today marks one year anniversary of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS). What has been achieved? It was on this day that the ARCSS was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Armed Opposition before its split in July 2016 signed the Agreement on Monday 17th August, 2015 by Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Pagan Amum who signed on behalf of the SPLM former detainees, representatives of the Faith Based Groups, Civil Society organizations, IGAD representative and African Union representatives respectively.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit did not sign the Agreement in Addis Ababa that day. He said there were consultations that he wanted to make with his ministers in Juba before he could ink the document.
He however signed the Agreement exactly ten days later in Juba on the 26th August, 2015.
The two warring sides declared ceasefire and cessation of hostilities immediately after signing the Agreement. But the orders were not respected at all. The conflict raged on and on up-to-date.
It took time for people to realize that in fact an agreement had been signed to end the ongoing conflict in the country.
The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC) was later established to oversee the full implementation of the agreement. It has made several statements appealing and urging the parties to the agreement to recommit themselves to the full implementation of the agreement. Their statements have all fallen on deaf ears or dead rocks.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has convened and reconvened several summits on the ongoing conflict in the country. No tangible impact has been seen or even felt. The conflict still rages on.
Dr. Riek Machar Teny finally returned to Juba after assurances made by JMEC, IGAD and some members of the International Community that he would be safe in the country. His concern was that Juba should be demilitarized first as provided for in the agreement. Demilitarization was partially done. It was on Tuesday26th April, 2016 that Dr. Riek Machar returned to Juba. The Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) was subsequently formed on the 29th April, 2016 as provided for in the agreement. His return and subsequent establishment of the TGoNU was seen as a turning point for the full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. Somehow there was a ray of hope that indeed peace had returned to the country. There was a Cabinet resolution for the review of the boundaries of the former 28 states including the release of the prisoners. That lingered on without implementation until the killing of one of the SPLM/A-IO officers Gismala. This built up slowly until the Gudele 1 Lou Clinic Junction incident where a number of soldiers and police were killed. This incident happened on the 7th July, 2016. There were assurances from the SPLA and the SPLA-IO that the incident should be taken as an isolated one. The two spokespersons said there was going to be an investigation into the attack. Unfortunately, it did not take long on Friday 8th July, 2016, when President Salva Kiir Mayardit, former First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar and Vice President Dr. James Wani Igga were in a meeting presumably discussing ways of mitigating the incident of the previous day and prepare a joint statement for the Independence Day on the following day which was Saturday, just at about 5:15 or 5:20PM,shooting rocked the town at State House (J1). Although Saturday was calm, at about 8:25am on Sunday 10th July, 2016, shooting started at Jebel on the way leading to the UN House until late Monday 11th July, 2016 when the government finally announced that Dr. Riek Machar had been pushed out from Juba.
The impact of the July 2016 Conflict in Juba gradually led to the devastation of areas that used to be peaceful when the conflict broke out in December 2013. Immediately when Dr. Machar was pushed out from Juba, Juba-Lainya-Road became impassable for a number of months. Yei was terribly affected. Most civilians fled to Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda for refuge.
This instability slowly continued until on 22nd January, 2017, an ambush by SPLA-IO led to the killing of five or six people at Romogi village in Kajo-Keji. This killing scared most civilians following the horrible stories they heard from Yei before which resulted in people fleeing for refugee to Uganda.
Most areas of Nimule and lately some areas of Magwi have been devastated as people fled for refuge due to insecurity in the areas.
Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), the body tasked to document violations to the agreement has reported several violations to the agreement but all along there has been no impact. People just see further deterioration of the security situation in most parts of the country.
Lately, IGAD, recommended for the revitalization of the agreement. How it will be revitalized is still difficult to tell.
The Voluntary Civil Society Taskforce on Implementation of the Peace Agreement has recommended for the extension of the transitional period of the agreement for two years because they noted that the peace agreement did not stop the conflict apart from the formation of TGoNU and reconstitution of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly.
According to the Voluntary Taskforce, the extension of the transitional period would give room for the writing of the permanent constitution and probably full implementation of the peace agreement.
They also recommended for the inclusion of all those armed groups that have sprung up after the signing of the agreement so that their grievances would be identified in order to resolve the conflict in the country once and for all.
By Sworo Charles Elisha