President Kiir accepts to release peace funds as deadline draws near

By Deng Machol

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with opposition leader Riek Machar before their meeting in Juba, South Sudan, Sept. 11, 2019. Photo credit VOA
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (R) shakes hands with opposition leader Riek Machar before their meeting in Juba, South Sudan, Sept. 11, 2019. Photo credit VOA

Juba – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has said his government will now release the funds for implementation of the activities of the pre-transitional period to accelerate the process before the deadline elapses.

During the meeting of parties to the new peace accord in Addis Ababa in May, the government pledged to release $100 million to fund the pre-transitional activities.

In October, the Co-Chair of the Pre-Transitional Committee, Gabriel Changson, said the government had availed only $42 million to facilitate its work as mandated. Bulk of the amount was meant for the cantonment of forces.

The NPTC – body tasked for the implementation of peace process had consistently lack of funds to complete phase one of the peace deal, that is security arrangements.

President Kiir’s remark comes days after the European Union reiterated calls on the government to fulfill its promise to fund the peace process.

President Kiir was speaking during the opening ceremony of the 7th Command Council conference at the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs General Headquarter in Juba, under the theme “SSPDF transformation and challenges of implementing the R – ARCSS,” including the status of the transitional security arrangements, permanent ceasefire, cantonments, reunification, training of the unified forces and strategic defense security review.

“The work of the NPTC and its support organs has substantially been delayed because of the inability of the government to pay all the money it has pledged in time, but we are determined and very committed to disbursement of the money the government pledged so that the NPTC and its associated organs complete the remaining provisions and activities of revitalized agreement implementation,” said Kiir on Thursday in Juba, without explain what exactly has been keeping his government from releasing the money.

The observers, including some members of parties to peace deal have repeatedly criticized the government for not providing funds for peace implementation, saying it is not setting its priorities right.

The experts have blamed in on lack of political will, especially when the government receives about $165 million every month from oil sales.

On unity govt

In October, the signatories to the peace deal disagreed over the formation of a unity government as scheduled without the security arrangements in place.

Opposition leaders Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol, called for more extension to allow for full implementation of the security arrangements, number of states and their boundaries.

On the other hand, Kiir and several other party leaders insisted that the coalition government must be established on 12 November – all these will settle by transitional government.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the regional body that mediated the revitalized peace deal signed in September 2018 in Ethiopia, recently said the warring parties failed to form the unified force by the Sept. 30 deadline.

While address the command council, president Kiir reiterated that a unity government must be formed by November 12, with no delay as planned to end the crisis and usher in a new era of peace.

“This revitalize transitional of national unity must be formed on 12th November, 2019,” said president Kiir. “Delaying the formation of government is not good with us. Let us double up and prepare for peace. Our country is in crisis, underdevelopment, poverty, if we don’t accept change, [then] our country will never move forward,” he added.

President said he told opposition leader Machar before going to Khartoum to nominate his members of the parliament and members of the executive that are to be appointed in the next government of national unity.

“I request Dr. Riek Machar to nominate the names of his delegates that are to be appointed in the forthcoming transitional government of the national unity on November 12 and up to now he [Machar] has not yet presented the lists of his nominees,” said Kiir, adding that time is still ahead but I know there is no time left.

As the ceasefire holding nationwide, Kiir said “I am happy that the ceasefire is holding across the country and I urge the army to embrace and maintain it for the welfare of the people of South Sudan.”

President Kiir further told army to remember that peace is expensive and comes with consequences, stating that some people will also lose their position to give peace and stability a chance to prevail in the country.

“Peace is a very expensive commodity and it comes with many sacrifices; you can lose your position to gain peace. All of us are obliged to bear these difficulties,” said Kiir.

“There is no reason for another extension. VIPs who can’t feel safe can be given additional security our partners to protect them until such time when the outstanding parts of the security arrangements are completed; and they feel secured under the new VIP protection unit and the unified force,” said president Kiir, while addressing the church during the centenary celebration of 100 years of Juba Diocese on Friday.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of soldiers have been registered and cantoned in various designated areas in the country, but the peace monitoring body of recently say some of these forces are living in squalid conditions, with some already starving and others drinking dirty water, forcing soldiers to leave a cantonment sites across the country.

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