PRESS RELEASE: The Equatoria community in the United Kingdom condemn the ongoing violence in South Sudan, acknowledge the failure of ARCISS, and advocate for a new approach to peace-building via a broad based national coalition.
03 September 2016
THE EQUATORIA COMMUNITY IN THE UK CONDEMNS THE ONGOING VIOLENCE IN SOUTH SUDAN AND ADVOCATES FOR A NEW APPROACH TO PEACE-BUILDING.
The Equatoria community in the UK welcomes the visit by members and representatives of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to South Sudan this weekend.
We repeat our condemnation of the resurgence of violence, which began in Juba on the 8th July 2016. The murder of non-combatants and the looting of properties in Juba, coupled with deplorable acts of gender based violence, which targeted both civilians and foreign aid workers, signify the complete breakdown of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS).
We also strongly condemn the on-going military campaign in the Equatoria region of South Sudan. We continue to receive credible reports of government forces engaging in both targeted and indiscriminate murders of civilians, as well as the looting of properties and the restriction of free movement of the people.
In our previous press release, issued on 14th July 2016, we urged for a re-commitment to the provisions and schedule of ARCISS. Unfortunately, it has become clear that this path to peace is no longer viable. The longstanding opposition to the peace agreement by President Salva Kiir and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Government (SPLM-IG) can no longer be ignored. Their hold on power is threatened by security sector reform. Economic reform is a challenge to the patronage networks that they’ve developed. And the hybrid court promises an end to the impunity that they have long enjoyed. Since its inception, and starting with the registration of ‘reservations’ against key provisions of the agreement, President Kiir and the SPLM-IG have worked tirelessly to dismantle the ARCISS and the collegial presidency it requires.
The most recent move to dishonour the agreement is the replacement of Dr Riek Machar with Taban Deng Gai as First Vice President; an act we strongly condemn. We regret, as unfortunate, the endorsement of this move by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, and we urge him not to influence the IGAD leaders against their decisive communique issued during the African Union summit in Kigali. We urge our international peace partners, as guarantors of the peace agreement, to stand firmly by their stated commitment to support the people of South Sudan. We trust that our peace partners will not do what South Sudan’s leaders have done, which is to fail the people of South Sudan.
We have heard the assertions of President Kiir and the SPLM-IG that there will be further bloodshed should Dr Machar return to Juba. But we note that even with Dr Machar in exile, the bloodshed, especially in Equatoria, and perpetrated in large part by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and its affiliated militias, continues unabated. We note with regret the recent statement by President Uhuru Kenyatta, which emphasised the relative peace in Juba whilst ignoring the continuing deterioration of the security situation outside of the capital. It is clear that the collapse of ARCISS lies with President Kiir and SPLM-IG, who have demonstrated their unwillingness to cooperate with Dr Machar in implementation of the peace agreement.
We refute the dominant narrative, which trivialises the crisis in South Sudan by portraying it as a power struggle between the two principals, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar. We urge our peace partners to revisit the underlying root causes of the conflict in South Sudan, which we believe was only indirectly addressed in the peace agreement. We note with regret that the minority report to the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, issued by Professor Mahmood Mamdani, which advised the exclusion of President Kiir, Riek Machar and all ministers in the government prior to the reshuffle in July 2013, was ignored.
We eagerly welcomed the inauguration of the transitional government and supported the ARCISS because we truly believed it would bring a lasting peace. In our press release, issued in April 2016, we expressed our disappointment that too many ‘old faces’ with a track record of underachievement were included in the transitional government. It was our belief that this would threaten any meaningful reforms that the South Sudanese people desperately expected. Unfortunately, four months on, the current situation has proved that our previous concerns were correct. We are left with no choice but to move forward and advocate for a new sustainable peace-building process. The incumbent SPLM government must be replaced with a broad based coalition government for peace-building to succeed in South Sudan.
We appeal to the UNSC to:
- Support the development of a broad based political coalition, as the most effective means to achieving stability and sustainable peace-building;
- Facilitate a national conference comprising all political and civil society stakeholders, balanced by grassroots representation from South Sudan’s three regions;
- Impose an arms embargo on South Sudan to stem the flow of weapons;
- Impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities obstructing peace in South Sudan;
- Continue to provide much needed humanitarian assistance for the South Sudanese people, especially for those recently displaced to neighbouring countries.
Chair, Equatoria Community in UK