South Sudan: Slow Progress on Peace Deal, Rival Bickering Resumes
Pressure is increasing on South Sudan’s rival leaders to put bickering aside and focus on implementing a peace deal that was supposed to end violence in the country August last year.
The nation’s government and main opposition group have been making steady progress in recent months, but violence continues to mar the streets of Juba and other parts of the country. And now both the UN Secretary-General and US Secretary of State have called on the rival parties to increase their efforts.
Peace deal ‘not an option, it is a must’
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged President Salva Kiir and returning vice-president Riek Machar on Thursday to respect the terms of last year’s peace agreement. He asked them to put politics aside and focus on bringing peace to the country first, reminding them of their obligations.
“Respecting the terms of the peace agreement is not an option,” he said, “It is a must.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry also weighed in on Wednesday by saying both leaders will face individual sanctions if they fail to implement the deal.
Slow progress, bickering resumes
Earlier this month President Kiir paved the way for Machar’s return to South Sudan – and peace for the country – by announcing Machar would be reinstated as vice-president. The rebel leader has stalled his return to Juba, however, until his troops are allowed back into the capital.
This agreement now seems to be in place and Machar could be in Juba as soon as next week. Once there, he and President Kiir are expected to establish a transitional government in the country and bring peace to the troubled nation.
Despite gradual progress, the usual dialogue of each party blaming the other has resumed with full force.
Following the threat of sanctions from the US, spokesperson for President Kiir said they “must be aimed at those who are putting impediments into the implementation process … The problem is not with Salva Kiir”.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Machar’s SPLM/A-IO party had a different angle:
“This is a good statement because it can put pressure on the two parties. But on our side we are ready to deliver, it is the government that has been violating the peace agreement,” he told Reuters.