South Sudan no longer in state of war: Ambassador

By Addis Getachew

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) – South Sudan is no longer is a state of war, according to James Pitia Morgan, the South Sudanese ambassador to Ethiopia.

In a press conference on Friday, Morgan said the agreement signed last Sunday in Khartoum, Sudan resolved all the difficult issues of power-sharing, governance, and security arrangement issues in an inclusive manner.

“The war has come to an end,” he said, and a new amnesty decree by the government makes it possible for rebels to return to Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

South Sudan slid into chaos in 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his ex-deputy Riek Machar of a coup, an accusation Machar denied.

The war engulfed the whole country, spurring a new wave of violence that fueled Africa’s biggest refugee crisis and displaced 4 million people from their homes, including 2 million refugees who sought shelter in neighboring countries.

According to Morgan, the Khartoum agreement provides for an eight-month pre-transition period during which rebel fighters will remain in camps amid a process of integrating the various armies into one defense force of South Sudan, and a 30-month transition period after which elections will be held.

Morgan said: “What we have achieved [in Khartoum] can be credited to Ethiopia’s new leader, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed …who delegated Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to continue face-to-face meetings between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.”

-Warning and safeguards

Ahmed, who currently chairs the eight-nation east Africa security and trading bloc IGAD, met Kiir and Machar at his office in Addis Ababa in June, where the two rivals were seen embracing and shaking hands.

Immediately he delegated Sudan’s President Al Bashir to continue the work of getting them to an agreement, with a stern warning that the regional countries will intervene should the warring parties fail to agree and make good on their words.

Before Ahmed came to the scene, said Morgan, “The whole region of IGAD was not operating independently. IGAD was an organization run by foreigners, run by the Troika” of the U.K., U.S. and Norway, he said.

Many people, however, remain skeptical of the new pact as in December 2017 the warring parties broke a cessation of hostilities agreement within three hours of signing.

This time around, rebel leader Machar would not be allowed to go to Juba along with his army, the ambassador said, blaming that for the breakdown of the 2015 Addis Ababa agreement.