Violence continues in South Sudan despite new unity government
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The level of violence in South Sudan has not diminished in spite of the formation of a new unity government, Festus Mogae, the head of ceasefire monitoring mission, told RFI on Wednesday. Opposition leader Riek Machar’s return to Juba over a month ago was seen as a key step marking the implementation of the country’s peace agreement and compromise with President Salva Kiir.
“People are getting killed all over the place almost every day,” said Mogae, a former Botswana president. “I wouldn’t call it fighting, it’s really more criminal activity.”
Mogae, who heads the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which is responsible for overseeing the country’s peace agreement, said the work of his ceasefire monitors has been “hindered by various groups”.
“I wouldn’t say that either the fighting or incidents of violence have either diminished or increased - it’s an unsatisfactory situation,” said Mogae, who is mandated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional bloc.
Q&A Festus Mogae
It was hoped that Machar’s return to Juba, which was delayed several times, would be a catalyst to implement the peace agreement and bring an end to the civil war that broke out in December 2013 when President Kiir sacked Machar, accusing him of planning a coup.
Government posts shared
It has resulted in some progress, notably dividing government posts between those loyal to Kiir, Machar’s Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition and another SPLM splinter known as the "former detainees" as well as other political parties.
However, Mogae is “saddened” that the level of violence remains unchanged. Furthermore, he points to incidents of armed elements “interfering” with World Food Programme (WFP) convoys.
“Uncontrolled crime” is being perpetuated by both sides of the conflict, according to Mogae, as well as “criminals not associated with either side”.
“The WFP is being interfered with, they have reported when they drive from here in Juba to Malakal, a town in the north, they are stopped many, many times by different people,” said Mogae, in a telephone interview from Juba.
Some 2.8 million people in South Sudan were food insecure between January and March this year, according to statistics from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
UN maintains sanctions
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday unanimously voted to maintain sanctions against South Sudan.
The US urged South Sudanese leaders to implement the peace agreement, with US deputy ambassador David Pressman saying, “We have all watched too much bloodshed in South Sudan, we have watched leaders prioritise power over peace.”
The 15-member council could not agree on a proposed arms embargo against the country, although it did decide on tasking experts with preparing a report on the flow of weapons to South Sudan.
South Sudan’s Deputy UN Ambassador Joseph Moum Malok expressed his government’s “great disappointment” over the extension of sanctions, saying it failed to recognise his country’s sovereignty.
Violence in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands of people since the start of the conflict. According to an investigation carried out by UN human rights experts published in March 2016, “abuses have been perpetrated by all parties to the conflict including attacks against civilians, rape and other crimes of sexual violence.”