By Deng Machol
Juba – the President Trump’s administration warned that it would not accept a transitional government in South Sudan which excludes ex- rebel Dr. Riek Machar.
Dr. Machar, leader of the main opposition group, Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army – in Opposition signed a new peace deal with president Kiir in 2018 after the 2015 peace deal collapsed.
In the latest peace accords, the two principals promised to end the country’s five – year conflict that has killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million both internally and externally from the homes.
A new unity government is expected to be formed on November 12, in which Machar will take up a post of the first vice president in the country for next 30 months before elections.
Last month, president Kiir said he would go ahead to form a new transitional government on November 12 if an ex-rebel leader Machar’s hesitates.
President Kiir’s statement comes after the two principals held serious face-to-face talks in Juba where they have made importance progress to speed up screening and registration of their forces as they enter into the over 25 cantonment sites across the country.
Thomas Hushek, U.S Ambassador to South Sudan said the parties must get their act together and implement some of the significant outstanding issues before the D – day for the forming the unity government.
He said this peace deal is where the mandate for the unity government will come from that means it need inclusivity of all parties.
However, the IGAD – which mediated the revitalized peace deal, recently invited the parties to the accord for further talks in Ethiopia to help speed up implementation of outstanding issues that include security arrangements, determination of number states and boundaries but it flabby as the parties never turned up.
The U.S diplomat said the government party has refused to participate in the ones [talks] that the IGAD tried to call and yet they have not established any other mechanism to discuss that outstanding political issue.
“They need to be talking about settling this outstanding political issue of determining of the number of states,” he said, despite the promises and announcements by president Kiir and Machar [in September] that they had asked their members to be negotiating this matter – those negotiations are still born.”
Non – Signatories
Amb. Hushek also revealed that he already reached out to Thomas Cirilo, leader of the National Salvation Front (NAS) to join the peace process and pursue his political objectives through non – violent means.
“I have reached out several months ago to Thomas Cirilo and discussed with him the importance of pursuing whatever objective he had without violence, armed forces,” he said. Adding, when you hear us talking about the need for political space here in South Sudan as part of the peace agreement. It’s about making sure that all parties whether they signed the peace agreement or not, have room to champion political change.”
Gen. Cirilo and former chief of army, Paul Malong Awan are still threatening to the peace process despite that the ceasefire is relative calm.
Hushek further disclosed that the president Trump’s administration remains strong supporter of the peace process in the world youngest nation as it has up to now been the largest supporter of humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country.
“We support moving this peace process forward but doesn’t come without some caveats. First of all, we want to see a formation of the unity government. It is clearly defined in the agreement that means all parties have to be in unity. It can’t be a unity government of the incumbent government that moves ahead with the SPLM-IO or other signatory parties drop out,” said Hushek.
He lamented that the parties have been slow on implementing the security arrangements with a bulk of their forces expected to form the 83,000 unified force not yet screened and registered.
“The government has not yet put forward its’ pledged financial support for the [peace] process and also they have been slow to register forces for the cantonment in particular on the government side. They have not done as many registrations so that all needs to be formed in a much accelerated fashion,” Amb. Hushek echoed.
Hushek said Trump’s administration will continue to target individuals perceived to be obstructing the peace process in the horn of African region.
“We still have the same executive order in place that we have had that has been a basis for our bilateral sanctions previously. So, this points to people who are obstructing peace and we have this authority to put sanctions on them,” said Hushek. A lot of these sanctions are actually UN sanctions and we use that same executive order to implement them within our legal system. So, it’s incumbent upon all governments of the UN to implement those sanctions.”
Amb. Hushek also reignited the controversial issue of the formation of the African Union led hybrid court to prosecute war crimes besides setting up the truth, reconciliation and healing commission and reparation commission for the victims of human rights abuses during the violence.
On the recent Sentry report on South Sudan, which alleged syndicate corruption by political elites and international companies helping to fund the civil war, the U.S diplomat agreed that there was massive chronic corruption within the establishment.
“I hope moving forward a future government will see that internationals have a role to play to help the government here [to] fix the problem of corruption. I don’t think anyone in the government has said there is no problem of corruption here. I think they do recognize that,” said Hushek.
The parties have signed a peace deal that includes an entire chapter [four] on improving financial fiscal management, in which a corruption shall be deal with it.
However, the parties to the revitalized peace deal failed to form the unified force by the September 30 as agreed upon.
Of recently, Machar’s group said they are not ready for the formation of the unity government in November 12th if the rest of the security arrangements and the number of states and its boundaries are not implemented. While President Kiir’s group are pushing for the formation of the unity government despite challenges.