South Sudan peace deal offers promising end to conflict. But challenges remain

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (right) shaking hands with former rebel leader and Vice President, Riek Machar. PHOTO/PHILIP DHIL/EPA

By YOHANNES GEDAMU

Many attempts at ceasefires and peace deals have failed in South Sudan. But a 2018 peace agreement, signed five years after the 2013 conflict began, has inspired hope for a lasting peace treaty. As part of the deal, former rebel leader Riek Machar has rejoined the government and resumed his vice president duties. However, it’s still unclear when Machar will to return to the capital Juba.

The young nation hasn’t fared well since the optimism that was felt around the world when the Republic gained its independence on 9 July 2011. Trouble began in December 2013, a mere 17 months after independence, when a power struggle within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement divided the political party. The movement is the political wing of the guerrilla army that led the struggle for independence.

President Salva Kiir retained leadership of the movement and his deputy Machar resigned from government to form the SPLM In Opposition.

The split triggered a new civil war between the two men’s supporters. It started in Juba but by the start of 2014 it had spread across the country. Sudan had once again descended into chaos assisted in no small way by the interference of its neighbours. Both Uganda and Sudan are reported to have backed factions during the war.

The expectation for sustained peace and prosperity had begun to fizzle until late 2018 when a revitalised peace deal was reached. The hope is that peace will prevail. But after so many failed attempts to end hostilitiesthere is some scepticism. Can this latest truce hold?

This deal certainly offers a promising end to the young nation’s conflict. Since the regionally brokered agreement  was reached, President Kiir has also signed a declaration giving amnesty to the troops, army generals, and leaders of the SPLM in Opposition.

The amnesty included Vice President Machar and was an important gesture showing Kiir’s commitment to moving on from the senseless war.

Read more here: The Conversation

 

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