In spite of reassurances by the government of South Sudan that the country is on the path to implementing a 2018 peace deal, there have been fears of a relapse.
Last September, warring parties in the country signed a landmark deal after a 2015 cease-fire was violated 24 hours after it was signed.
However, an eight-nation African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), said that while the latest deal is holding on there have been reports of recurring violations.
South Sudan slid into civil war in December 2013, in a falling out between President Salva Kiir and his then deputy-turned-rebel-leader Riek Machar.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 under a mediation by IGAD, was short lived as Machar fled the capital Juba and entered the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) fearing for his life, sparking renewed fighting across the nascent nation.
“IGAD is dismayed at the reports of recurring violations of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access,” IGAD’s Special Envoy to South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Weis said in a statement last week.
“The people of South Sudan are tired of war and violence. The rule of fear must end,” he added, calling on all parties to respect the cease-fire.
James Morgan, South Sudan’s ambassador to Ethiopia, told Anadolu Agency the fears of violation are overblown and do not represent the ground realities.
One of the obstacles coming in the way of implementation is the inability of fighters to stay in camps and not move about freely, a key provision of the cease-fire.
The ambassador said there have been delays in containing fighters in camps “but it is mainly due to financial constraints”.
Last week, a joint monitoring commission claimed that there have been movements of armies seen in Yei River State, a concern which Morgan played down.
According to the UN, 1.74 million South Sudanese have been internally displaced by the conflict, while 2.47 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.
Implementation of a peace agreement this time around seemed to be orderly with little complaints coming from the main opposition led by would-be First Vice President Machar.
But the process remain very fragile and stakes are very high.
Just last week, the government of Sudan announced resumption of petroleum production.
“Most of the closed oil fields have now resumed production [and]shortly we are expecting to produce one million barrels per day (1million barrels/day),” Morgan told Anadolu Agency.
“Once we do that, the financial problems facing us now would be resolved,” he said.
The eight-month pre-transition period of the peace deal will end in May when the Horn of Africa nation will move to the next phase — the Revitalized-Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) — with Kiir as president and rebel leader Machar as first vice-president.
Source: Anadolu|Reporting by Addis Getachew