AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The Bishops: "It is urgent to look for a new agreement if true peace is desired".

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - "We remain extremely concerned. We welcome the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) as a step forward. The Agreement was signed on September 12 in Addis Ababa by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, and by rebel leader, the former Vice President Riek Machar, and had been reached thanks to the mediation of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), a body that brings together the States of East Africa. The agreements should put an end to the civil war that broke out in December 2013. "However the concrete situation on the ground demonstrates that it is not addressing the root causes of the conflicts in South Sudan", say the Bishops of South Sudan in the statement published at the end of their meeting held in Juba from 26 to 28 September. It propagates “power sharing” model which "encourages the Parties to bargain over posts, positions and percentages rather than working for the good of the Country". The statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, recalls that some Parties to the agreement claim that they were not consulted about the agreement, they were pressured into signing it, and they are not committed to it.
"Furthermore, the implementation of the agreement is far behind schedule" the Bishops underline, describing a situation in which "if the level of open conflict has reduced, the Cessation of Hostilities agreement is not holding, and all parties are involved either in active fighting or preparations for war. The value of human life and dignity is forgotten as human rights abuses continue with impunity, including murder, rape, widespread sexual violence, looting and the occupation of civilian land and property. Organised crime is on the increase. While there is a great deal of talk about peace, actions are not matching words, and we fear that our leaders on all sides have other hidden agendas".
"This is our message to all stakeholders, including our political and military leaders, the signatory Parties to the R-ARCSS and those Parties who have not signed, our neighbours in IGAD, our friends in the international community, and all people of good will", the Bishops write.
"We fear that the current peace infrastructure mediated by IGAD is fatally flawed and we urge all stakeholders and friends of South Sudan to collaborate to seek a new model, a change of narrative, for true peace which goes beyond the R-ARCSS", they conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/3/2019)