Include all armed groups South Sudan peace talks: ICG


By ST
Posted to the web on December 26, 2014

 

December 26, 2014 (BOR) - The International Crisis Group (ICG) has urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to include all inter-communal armed groups fighting in South Sudan in the ongoing peace talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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Rebel fighters aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar gather in a village in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state on 8 February 2014 (Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

In a report published on 22 December, ICG said a combustible mix of armed political opposition, violent ethnic militias and dysfunctional political system were part of the tinder that led to eruption of violent conflict in South Sudan last year.

According to the report, the war could intensity in coming weeks, despite 11 months of talks, mediated by the East African regional bloc.

“The negotiations do not reflect the diversity of armed groups and interests in South Sudan and the region, most of which are nominally allied with either President Salva Kiir’s government or former Vice President Riek Machar’s Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO”, partly reads the report.

“The constellation of regional and South Sudanese armed groups in Jonglei is emblematic of the regional, national and local challenges to peace and the pattern of a war that cannot be resolved by engaging only two of the nearly two-dozen armed groups in the country and ignoring those that have not yet engaged in the fight”, it adds.

Majority of the armed groups, ICG argued, operate differently from those loyal to president Salva Kiir or the armed opposition led by former vice-president, Riek Machar and do not necessarily support the peace process, creating a chaotic environment on the ground.

“Most of these groups are not fighting for control of the government in Juba and some of their conflicts are best resolved at the state or local level,” notes the report.

“Yet if they are ignored, the main protagonists will use these groups to continue the fight and derail national peace efforts”, it adds.

The fighting in Jonglei, ICG said, represents more continuity than change with past decades, and its deep roots are similar to those across the country. Now, much of the state is reportedly under the control of the SPLM/A-IO and the Murle South Sudan Democratic Army-Cobra Faction (SSDA-CF), which has made a peace deal with the government, but the majority of whose fighters are not integrated into the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA), while the SPLA and the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), secure the government’s control over the rest.

“No one’s territory is stable”, says the report, adding “civilians are displaced and starving and a return to fighting is all but guaranteed”.

More inclusive talks, focused in reforms within the ruling party, will reportedly play fundamental roles in ending the ongoing conflict.

“IGAD’s emphasis on brokering a deal between Kiir and Machar neglects the diversity of armed interests and may lead to a peace deal that enjoys little support on the ground. While the government has the upper hand militarily, increasing repression in Juba, interminable rebellion in the bush and cities of Greater Upper Nile and continuing regional interference point to a turbulent future,” it says.

IGAD, the report further says, could reinforce its political presence in the ongoing talks, addition to its monitoring and verification teams.

“Monitoring and verification teams could become more responsive to ongoing violations and increase monitoring in areas not yet in conflict but that remain at risk,” ICG said.

Tens of thousands of people have died and nearly two million displaced since violence broke out in the young nation last year. Already, aid agencies anticipate that more than 2.5 million people could face starvation early next year, should conflict continue.

The full report is available at

South Sudan: Jonglei – “We Have Always Been at War

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

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