AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The peace process fails to advance after the change in the Ministry of Defense

Friday, 31 March 2023 armed groups   local churches  

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - Immediately begin operations to disarm the civilian population, starting with the capital, Juba. This is the task assigned to the new Defense Minister of South Sudan, Chol Thon Balok, by President Salva Kiir Maryardit.
President Kiir has also instructed the minister to implement the second chapter of the peace agreement, which details the permanent ceasefire and transitional security provisions.
Kiir and his longtime rival Riek Machar signed the peace deal in 2018 that ended a five-year civil war that killed 400,000 people. An agreement that has had difficulties to be fully implemented in recent years despite the fact that Machar was reinstated in the position of first vice president that he held before the conflict broke out in December 2013.
The appointment of the new defense minister aroused strong opposition from Machar, as Chol Thon Balok, who belongs to the
President's party, took the place of Angelina Teny, Machar's wife. On March 3, Kiir dismissed her along with the Home Secretary. Dismissals that were branded as "Kiir's unilateral decision" by Machar's party.
The 2018 peace accords provide for the creation of a unified army called the Graduated Unified Forces. “So far this force has not entered service.
It seems that it trained for nothing", Oryema Emmanuel, a civil society representative for Eastern Equatoria state, told the Catholic Radio Network, stressing that leaving soldiers trained without a specific assignment risks creating security problems.
The situation most at risk remains that of the Upper Nile which, according to the Small Arms Survey, is on the verge of a resumption of armed conflict, between some local groups themselves linked to the broader national context. "Normally the Small Arms Survey experts are among the best and most precise in their analysis of the South Sudanese context", local ecclesiastical sources told Agenzia Fides, which we did not cite for security reasons. "What they describe of the context, including the current dynamics and the possible events that could lead to a resumption of the various conflicts in the region, is something that we unfortunately verified for ourselves". "We sincerely pray that these trends prevail". (L.M) (Agenzia Fides, 31/3/2023)