Experts urge dialogue among South Sudan parties

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Experts have urged the belligerent parties to the 2018 revitalised peace deal in South Sudan to immediately resume dialogue after the main opposition party led by First Vice President Riek Machar withdrew from participating in the security mechanisms.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in opposition (SPLM/A-IO) on Tuesday announced its withdrawal from the vital security mechanisms key to salvaging the fragile peace deal, citing “unprovoked attacks” from troops loyal to President Salva Kiir, reports Xinhua news agency.

On Wednesday, Abraham Kuol Nyuon, professor of political science at the University of Juba, urged the regional body Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), together with the Revitalized Joint Monitoring Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), to immediately convene a stakeholders’ meeting to break the current stalemate.

Kuol said there is need for the two bodies to push for cooperation among the parties in order to have them accomplish such critical tasks as graduation of the 83,000 unified forces.

He told Xinhua that the protest by SPLA-IO is sending a very strong signal to other signatories of the peace agreement.

“If SPLM/A-IO is dropping out when the peace agreement is coming to an end, it is going be difficult for the people to get consensus on either the extension of the peace agreement or accomplishing the milestones that are left.”

The protest by SPLA-IO came in the aftermath of intermittent fighting since August last year with its splinter faction led by Simon Gatwech Dual in Unity and Upper Nile states.

The SPLM/A-IO accuses the South Sudan army (SSPDF) of sowing seeds of discontent within its rank and file in order to weaken it.

Edmund Yakani, executive director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), said the withdrawal of the SPLM/A-IO from the security mechanisms puts the critical security arrangements in jeopardy.

The ongoing transitional period is expected to end in April 2023, and national elections are supposed to be held after that.

Yakani said the latest development could also be due to lack of trust and confidence among the parties, which are vital pillars for the successful implementation of the peace deal.

Ter Manyang, executive-director for the Centre for Peace and Advocacy, said the move by SPLM/A-IO goes against Article 1.4.2 of the revitalized peace deal that calls for collective responsibility among its signatories.

Manyang said the parties have an obligation to avoid any actions and provocations that could return the country back to war.

The RJMEC said now is a critical time in the implementation of the peace agreement as much needs to be done in less than 11 months of the transitional period.

It said security mechanisms, which are composed of representatives from across the different parties to the agreement, are an integral component of implementing the Transitional Security Arrangements of the agreement.

In a statement, the RJMEC reminded all parties that full engagement and inclusive dialogue within the framework of the peace deal is the only way of resolving disagreements.

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