S. Sudan rejects doubts over peace deal implementation

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – South Sudan has criticized skepticism from some quarters on the commitment of the country’s political parties to implement the latest peace deal.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, South Sudan’s Ambassador to Ethiopia James Morgan said the role being played by the Troika of the U.S., the U.K. and Norway “has always been negative.”

In a statement issued after the signing of the peace agreement in September, the Troika, which has been involved as one of the international supporters of the peace process, had expressed doubts over the commitment of South Sudanese political parties.

The statement said the agreement “will not deliver peace that the people of South Sudan deserve” until those who violate the previous agreement are held accountable.

It noted that humanitarian access continues to be blocked in the country, with aid workers expelled, detained and physically harmed. “This year, as the talks have been progressing in Addis Ababa and Khartoum, 13 humanitarian workers have been killed in South Sudan,” it said.

Responding to the criticism of the Troika, Morgan accuses the Western countries of “aiming to colonize Africa again.”

“Even in the latest peace agreement, some of the members of Troika countries were skeptical. We are asking ‘why they are very skeptical?” he said.

“There was no reason whatsoever for anybody to be unhappy because the people of South Sudan, both in government and in opposition, have decided to stop fighting,” the ambassador added.

On Sept. 12, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his main rivals signed a deal to share power in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The agreement came during the 33rd summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country East African trade bloc based in Djibouti that mediated the South Sudanese peace process.

There will be a transitional period of 36 months for the revitalized deal which will begin eight months after it is signed.

– Integration of armies

“During the eight-month pre-transition period, the opposition would not have a role in government, but they [the opposition] would organize their armies to prepare them for future integration into the army of the state,” Morgan said.

According to the ambassador, one of the mistakes committed in the past during the implementation of the August 2015 agreement was to allow the army of the opposition Sudanese People Liberation Front to enter Juba.

“This time around no army of the opposition would be allowed in Juba or elsewhere, because there would be only one army,” he said, adding the different armies would be integrated into one national army of South Sudan.

Following the August 2015 agreement, main rebel leader Riek Machar entered Juba as First Vice President with a group of his army and bodyguards. But it was short lived as his forces and those of the government including the intelligence apparatus could not make peace with each other.

Machar had to leave Juba and enter the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

When asked what guarantee the government would give to Machar and other opposition figures this time, Morgan said: “They would be safe.”

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan following a referendum in 2011. The country slid into civil war in December 2013, following disagreements between Kiir and the then Deputy President Machar.

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. The economy crumbled with oil fields turned into battle grounds.