South Sudan Faces Pressure from the International Community to End Conflict
United States diplomat, Tibor P. Nagy, called upon the countries in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in an effort to apply pressure on the two major peace partners in South Sudan to proceed with the formation of a government of national unity. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the current events taking place in the world union are “unacceptable” and “[urged] the country’s leaders to think about the suffering they cause to the South Sudanese people,” according to the Sudan Tribune. He had served in 2005 as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and recalled that his first mission after his appointment was assisting in returning refugees from camps in Uganda to their country after a comprehensive peace agreement. Years later, he visited Uganda again but as a UN Secretary-General and was very saddened by the suffering of the South Sudanese people.
President Slava Kiir and Riek Machar were supposed to have formed a united government by November 12, 2019. As this date approached, Kiir and Riek requested a 100-day extension, which was subsequently granted. The IGAD, in assistance with Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Tibor P. Nagy, made the call after the 50th day of the 100-day extension and saw no substantial progress.
“IGAD secretariat should hold President Kiir and Dr. Machar accountable and urge compromise,” Tibor said, according to Vatican News. With 50 days remaining before the February deadline, there are concerns that if a government of national unity is not formed by then, the peace deal could start to fall apart. As of right now, the September 2018 peace deal seems to be holding at least in regard to the terms of ceasefire. The warring parties have stopped fighting and people are gradually gaining their freedom of movement. The worst-case scenario would be a dysfunctional unity government that eventually falls apart.
The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is currently taking over from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the African Union (AU) chair, announced that he planned on hosting two summits in May 2020. One summit will focus on a resolution to end the conflict, while the other will be on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. “We will focus our efforts on conflict resolution across the African continent, especially those experiencing protracted conflict,” said Ramaphosa, who has identified the conflicts in South Sudan and Libya as priorities, according to Aljazeera. The two nations are facing a February 22 deadline to form a government; however, they have already missed two previous deadlines to settle their differences. After concluding a meeting, hosted in Washington, D.C., the three states said a final agreement will be signed in late February. The AU has announced that the Democratic Republic of the Congo would replace South Africa as AU chair in 2021.
It is undeniable that if a peace agreement is to be successfully implemented, all states concerned need to work together to make sure that President Kiir and other parties involved commit to a plausible power sharing arrangement.