South Sudan: rebel return raises peace hopes

By Editorial Board - 22 December 2015 at 7:31 pm
South Sudan: rebel return raises peace hopes

AP Photo/Jason Patinkin

As the conflict in South Sudan continues the world waits to hear how the young country will implement the peace deal that was drawn up four months ago.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that a group of South Sudanese rebels has returned to the capital, Juba, after spending two years in exile in order to start putting the peace agreement into effect.

However, only days earlier political parties were reporting that the people of South Sudan opposed the creation of 28 new states on the order of President Salva Kiir fearing it will be an obstacle to the agreement. According to the Sudan Tribune the parties are claiming that the majority of South Sudanese reject the President’s plans.

The new system aims to break the ten existing states into 28 new states, mostly along ethnic lines. The current arrangement has enabled multiethnic states to exist whilst this new structure will group ethnicities state by state. The system was announced after the peace deal was made and many have struggled to understand how the power sharing aspects of the peace agreement will be implemented if the 28 state plan goes through.

Accounts of friction between factions in the country is nothing new. The fledgling state was created in 2011 after decades of destructive civil war which left two and a half million people dead. In 2013 the two factions, one ruled by President Salva Kiir and the other by former Vice President Riek Machar, began fighting in the streets. Since then the conflict has spiraled with the United Nations reporting that tens of thousands have been killed and over two million have fled their homes.

As well as being on the verge of famine it is believed that corruption, including allegations that the government is diverting money from the treasury and manipulating the exchange rate, is fueling conflict.

John Prendergast of the Enough Project told IRIN, “There are many ways to make money through corruption in South Sudan.

“Officials literally divert money from the treasury. They make money off contracts: you contract for a road to be built, the company never does the work but gets the money for building the road and gives half to officials.

“And officials manipulate the exchange rate – they feed off the differential between the market rate and the rate set by [the] central bank.”

Loyola-Marymount University’s professor of African Studies, Jok Madut Jok told IRIN, “The war may have been triggered by the conflict at the top, but where does the momentum come from to keep the conflict going?

“Why do all these unemployed youths flock to the conflict?

“They join because they have nothing to lose because corruption has not allowed resources to trickle down.”

Edmund Yakani, of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, told AP that the return of rebel representatives is a positive sign.

“For me it is raising hope. It is a good gesture for hope that the peace agreement now will be implemented because now at least the principle parties are in Juba.”

Editorial Board

Editorial Board

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