AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The fall of Omar al-Bashir could affect the peace agreement in South Sudan

Thursday, 11 April 2019 peace   pope francis  

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - The military overthrow of Sudan’s longtime President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir has raised concerns about whether the upheaval will destabilize neighboring South Sudan’s fragile efforts at peace after five years of civil war. This is what the Sudanese and South Sudanese observers fear. "The Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) signed on September 12 in Addis Ababa by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, and by rebel leader, former Vice President Riek Machar, had the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni and that of Sudan, Bashir" as sponsors, explains a correspondent of Agenzia Fides (which for security reasons wishes not to be mentioned).
"And it was the latter that gave the final push to convince the parties to sign it, who came in person to Juba and invited Kiir and Machar to Khartoum. The Sudanese interest is clear: oil, whose production thanks to peace agreements could be resumed from sheltered wells. South Sudanese analysts are now wondering if with the change of government in Khartoum, the new authorities will continue to support the R-ARCSS or if instead the fall of Bashir preludes to a period of confusion in Sudan. In this case the new Sudanese government would give priority to its own internal issues by reducing the attention to its southern neighbor. In South Sudan further instability could therefore be triggered".
In the Vatican at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a spiritual retreat is taking place between 10 and 11 April with the participation of the highest civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan: President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and four of the five designated Vice Presidents: Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior.
"The initiative of the spiritual retreat has naturally had a wide echo in South Sudan", reports another source of Fides. "People's comments are generally positive and above all they appreciate Pope Francis’ availability. However, there is a certain skepticism about the attitude of politicians who have held power for years but have not used it for the well being of the population".
"That the war is really over will be verified by the creation of the government of national unity foreseen by the peace agreements", the source continues. "Unfortunately some groups have not signed the R-ARCSS and for this reason it cannot be said that the war is completely over. In the last two weeks there have been no reports of clashes, but the conflict remains latent. On the other hand, in their latest document the Bishops of South Sudan have denounced the slowness of the implementation of the peace agreement (see Fides 2/3/2019). The situation can however improve. We hope that the meeting at the Vatican will contribute to positive developments for South Sudan". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 11/4/2019)