In a visit to South Sudan this past weekend, members of the UN Security Council urged leaders to expedite implementation of a 2018 peace agreement aimed at ending six years of ongoing conflict.
The 15 ambassadors arrived in the capital, Juba, on Sunday, describing their visit as an opportunity to secure lasting peace in the country as it came just three weeks before a unified transitional government is due to be formed.
#SouthSudan President Salva Kiir welcomes members of the @UN #SecurityCouncil to J1, the presidential palace in #Juba, where a meeting is underway between the visiting diplomats and members of his government. Focus is on the implementation of a #peace deal signed last year. pic.twitter.com/CP6UDRDJAz— UNMISS (@unmissmedia) October 20, 2019
“There is an opportunity for the leaders of South Sudan to make political compromise and move forward to the next phase of the peace process in a credible, transparent and accountable manner,” said Kelly Craft, United States ambassador to the UN.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, making it the world’s youngest country. The fledgling nation erupted in chaos less than three years later following fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and supporters of his former deputy, Riek Machar.
It is hoped that a revitalized peace deal signed last September will bring an end to the violence.
The Security Council delegation acknowledged that progress has been made since then, with a ceasefire significantly improving the security situation.
“We noted the reduction of political violence which has contributed to the return of 594,000 displaced people, increased food production, enhanced humanitarian access, and increased commerce among communities,” said Jerry Matthews Matjila, the South African ambassador to the UN and Council president for October.
However, key outstanding issues remain which are having an impact on the progression of the peace process. They include decisions on states and boundaries, as well as the reunification of security forces.
Members held lengthy meetings with President Kiir, Mr. Machar and other signatories to the peace agreement, urging them to expedite its implementation and meet the November 12 deadline for forming a unified transitional government.
Mr. Machar, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In-Opposition, expressed concern about the failure to reunify security forces. He added that his party would not join the government until this issue was resolved.
“Yes, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development stated that by the 12th of November there should be a new government… but the aspects that are needed for establishing the government are not there”, he said. “Suppose we force it on the 12th, we know what will happen, the ceasefire that we have been enjoying will be in jeopardy.”
Council members expressed their strong disappointment at this statement. They urged the sides to compromise and show strong leadership to chart a way forward.