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South Sudan Leaders Sign New Peace Agreement. The Question Is: Will It Hold?

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If it holds, the deal on power-sharing signed on August 6 by President Salva Kiir and his now reinstated Vice President Riek Machar could end a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions in the world’s youngest country. But there have been ceasefires and agreements before that were not worth the paper they were written on. DW talked to Douglas Johnson an author of books on South Sudan, about the chances for the new deal.
This isn’t the first agreement signed by Kiir and Machar. What are your expectations concerning the present deal?
Douglas Johnson: The problem, of course, is implementation. Who is going to monitor and guarantee implementation? We’ll have to wait and see. Part of the problem, of course, is that it’s a power-sharing agreement, not really addressing the fundamental political and constitutional issues of South Sudan. You now have five vice-presidents, you’ve got an expanded assembly, you’ve got attempts to give people positions from the very top to the local states. The whole issue of the constitutional powers between a central government and state governments hasn’t been addressed. If this agreement gives South Sudan some time in which to have a full-scale, proper constitutional consultation that leads to a stable peace agreement, fine. But right now I think that there are some real questions about whether this formula will work.

Among the problems that need to be addressed what would be the priorities?
There are the security priorities as well as the political priorities. Right now there has been a proliferation of armed groups throughout South Sudan. You have within the SPLA itself – the national army – a number of units that are very poorly disciplined, very poorly trained, and have been involved in some of theworst atrocitiesin the war. Something has got to be done about them. To disband them may be one thing that could give people a sense that maybe security was going to be reestablished. But a lot of the other groups are not organized military groups. They are armed civilians. Some of them have been represented in this peace agreement. But we don’t know whether the people who have signed on behalf of armed groups really represent them. And as long as the armed groups are there as autonomous units that have been set up for their own self-defense or for their own offense against their neighbors, we don’t quite know how security is going to be reestablished. It is not going to be established by incorporating all of these armed groups into a national army. The national army is far too big, it is far too poorly trained and it is far too ill-disciplined.

I’ve mentioned the political issues. We’ve got now both by Riek Machar’s main opposition and the government’s proposals to divide up South Sudan into smaller states. This is not the right approach to a federal system, because it leaves the power of the central government supreme in creating the states, with no real examination of the viability of each of them. For instance, just a few months ago, a minister in one of the newly created states announced that he had no office, that his office was a desk underneath a tree. Creating states and appointing people into positions doesn’t actually solve the administrative and political issues. And I think that has to come about by a more far-reaching set of consultations, leading to some sort of constitutional convention.

Some of the African leaders who witnessed the signing of the new peace deal

If the peace agreement holds, what will it mean for the region especially taking into account the recent peace deal between neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea?
If this peace agreement holds, it can only be good news for the region in general. Insecurity in South Sudan has affected the neighbors, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan. There are South Sudanese refugees in all of those countries. I wonder to what extent it will actually lead to greater security in Sudan. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended with the independence of South Sudan has not brought peace to Sudan. They are still fighting in the Blue Nile area and in the Nuba Mountains with groups that were formerly a part of the SPLA. I think that what Khartoum wants and what South Sudan now probably will have to do is to cease to give any kind of support to the insurgencies in those two areas. But that by itself won’t necessarily bring peace and stability to Sudan. So certainly this is good news for Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, and, I suppose – to a lesser extent – the Democratic Republic of Congo, but we’ll have to wait to see what sort of an impact this has on Sudan’s own internal insecurity.
Why this agreement at this time? Is it a result of international pressure, even if Kiir says it is not?
I really can’t answer that, I don’t know exactly what has gone on behind closed doors between the government in Khartoum and the government in Juba. The excuse that Salva Kiir used for the failure of the previous peace agreement was that it had been imposed on him by IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development). It is interesting that he is saying that there is now no international pressure on him, because of course there has been quite a lot of international pressure. What this seems to indicate is that he has decided not to use the excuse of an imposed peace to jettison it at a later time. I think that what we have to realize is that the coalition that has kept Salva Kiir in power in Juba, has fractured. He is not in as strong a position as he thought he was back in 2016 to break that peace agreement.

Under the present scenario it also seems unlikely that either side will be taken to task anytime soon for the atrocities they’ve committed.

I think what we have to see here is the growing power of public opinion in South Sudan. There is of course repression by the government of its critics. There is no press freedom. The national security operates pretty much independently, without any sort of control over them. But I‘m beginning to see not only in youth groups, but in women’s movements and other civil society and civilian organizations a growing demand that there must be some sort of accountability for the atrocities that have taken place since 2013.
Written by DW

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Rwanda Government Critic Diane Rwigara Acquitted

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Diane Rwigara is a prominent critic of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame

A Rwandan court in the capital, Kigali, has acquitted government critic Diane Rwigara and her mother of charges of inciting insurrection and forgery.

Ms Rwigara was imprisoned for over a year, after being barred from running in presidential elections against the long-standing incumbent Paul Kagame and the 37-year-old opposition leader faced up to 22 years in prison for charges she said were politically motivated.

A three-judge panel told a packed room all the charges were “baseless”. Since her arrest, Ms Rwigara’s family have been subject to interrogations and their family assets forcibly auctioned. “I am very happy with the verdict,” said Ms Rwigara,who has been out on bail since October. “I am continuing with my political journey because there’s still a lot that needs to be done in our country.”

During the hearings, the businesswoman asserted that Rwanda’s economy was mainly controlled by the governing party’s elite. “Everything I talked about in the past has not been resolved. There are still many political prisoners in the country,” she told journalists after the high court ruling.

Ms Rwigara has repeatedly accused President Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his party’s unyielding grip on power since it assumed control after the country’s civil war and it’s a big win for the young opposition leader. Diane Rwigara always maintained that the accusations against her were politically motivated.US politicians and human rights advocates urged the court to drop the charges and it did, citing lack of evidence.

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War Is Wasteful, You Can’t Develop – Museveni Lectures Kiir And Machar On New Peace Agreement

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President Museveni has thanked South Sudan president Salva Kiir and his colleague Riek Machar for leading the people of South Sudan into a new journey of peace by signing a peace deal.

The President, through his Facebook page this morning said that the grinding stone that the people of south Sudan carried for over five years has now been put down.

“Attended the Peace day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan yesterday and like to thank you very much for attending to logic in the end and signing. The grinding stone that the people of South Sudan have been carrying has now been put down. I am sure this is the end of the conflict in South Sudan. War is wasteful. South Sudan has lost a lot of development time. In 2005 during the interim period, Juba was a very small town near the river. Now it has grown wide. If we had not had this war between 2013 – 2015, there would have been even greater development.

Make covenant like the one Israel made with God. War should never be used again to solve political arguments between brothers and sisters. Political arguments can be solved by discussions or free and fair elections. It is ideologically incorrect to use war for an argument. Also make sure state institutions are national to build people’s confidence,” the President said.

He added, “Uganda will continue to support South Sudan as we look forward to the concretization of the truly powerful ceremony as witnessed in Juba yesterday and want on to thank President Bashir who took the last initiative in peace making. I am glad we have done it. I am happy you shunned foreigners who want to establish hegemony over Africa by using weak enemies to divide us. Foreigners wanted South Sudan to become a vacuum like Libya and Somalia. Somalia is now coming up.”

By Remmy Atugonza

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Return Home And Rebuild Your Country – Museveni Tells South Sudanese

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President Museveni has urged South Sudanese in Uganda and abroad to return to their country and embark on the process of rebuilding it.
Mr. Museveni arrived in South Sudan Capital-Juba, ahead of the peace day celebrations following a new peace deal signed between former Vice President Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir last month to end conflict. Immediately after landing at the Juba international airport, Mr. Museveni told media that he believes with this peace process, the refugees can return home and participate in rebuilding their country.
“The long South Sudan conflict has had a huge effect on trade and people at large, for our country specifically, export revenue to South Sudan reduced by $500m, while more than a million South Sudanese have sought refuge in Uganda,” he said.

Riek Machar after stepping on South Sudan soil

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar returned to the capital Juba today after more than two years after he fled to the neighbouring Congo when the 2016 peace deal collapsed and invoked fierce fighting that left hundreds of people dead.

He later traveled to South Africa until September this year when him and President Salva Kiir signed a new peace deal in the latest attempt to end the five-year war. Machar is set to be reinstated as vice president under the terms of a recently signed peace agreement.

This will be the first time President Salva Kiir meets former ally turned bitter enemy.

President Museveni being welcomed by South Sudan president Salva Kiir

The two South Sudanese leaders were set to join regional leaders for the ceremony, including the presidents of Sudan and Ethiopia who helped bring about the peace agreement and it was not clear how long Machar would remain in Juba following the peace ceremony as his aides are worried about his safety in the city.

South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar then his deputy of plotting a coup and the conflict has split the country along ethnic lines and seen mass rape, the forced recruitment of child soldiers and attacks on civilians. It has caused one of the world’s deepest humanitarian crises.Several ceasefires and peace agreements have so far failed to end the fighting that has killed an estimated 380,000 people, uprooted a third of the population, forced nearly two-and-a-half million into exile as refugees and triggered bouts of deadly famine.

By Remmy Atugonza

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