UN: South Sudan peace process slowly ‘itching forward’

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The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says the country’s peace process is “itching forward” albeit “frustratingly slowly”.

In his final statement as head of UNMISS, David Shearer acknowledged the “positive steps” taken in South Sudan during his four-year tenure as Special Representative to the country – namely, the establishment of a transitional government, which marked its first anniversary the previous week.

Slow but positive progress in South Sudan

In a statement published 3 March, David Shearer notes several landmarks in South Sudan’s peace process during his time as a Special Representative, including a power-sharing deal, the establishment of the Council of Ministers and compromises over the redistribution of power across South Sudan ten states.

Despite setbacks and repeated delays, Shearer credits the fact that progress has been made, even if it has been “painfully” slow and much work still lies ahead.

“Because of the collective efforts of so many – and I applaud those of the region in particular – South Sudan is in a better state. It is inching forward – frustratingly slowly – with still so much to do before the citizens can truly enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future,” he said.

Shearer references slow progress four times in his statement and warns this lack of pace “comes at a cost,” where he cites the power vacuum “at a local level has opened opportunities for spoilers and national actors who have exploited local tensions and fueled violence.”

He points out that the Transitional National Legislature is yet to be reconstituted and little progress has been made on drawing up a constitution, establishing a transitional justice system and economic reform.

“The reality is, though, that the peace process remains extremely fragile. Many citizens are wary about whether the political will may falter – they fear the positive progress may collapse,” Shearer said in his final statement.

Featured image: “David Shearer” flickr photo by cheetah100 https://flickr.com/photos/devcentre/7885998272 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license