AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Peace negotiations in Kenya: Not everyone is convinced of the initiative

Tuesday, 14 May 2024

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - A new round of peace negotiations between the South Sudanese government and the Non-Signatory Opposition Group (NSOG) began on May 3 in Nairobi (Kenya). Since the civil war in South Sudan erupted in 2013, the parties to the conflict have appealed to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, Uganda, the Community of Sant'Egidio and now Kenya for mediation. These efforts have resulted in two important peace agreements and an agreement on the unification of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), but these have not yet been implemented. South Sudanese President Kiir's request for this new intervention and the NSOG's acceptance of Kenya's role as mediator followed Kenyan President Ruto's proposal on March 22. The politician shared with the NSOG a “roadmap” and mediation project with a time frame of 18 months from January 2024 to June 2025. However, local sources report that not all of them are convinced by this move by President Ruto. Given that Kenya has a history of secretly arresting and deporting activists in Juba, and given his significant business interests in South Sudan, they doubt that Ruto is a suitable mediator for the peace process in South Sudan. A note distributed by Remember Miamingi, a South Sudanese governance and human rights expert, said South Sudan is far from achieving peace, stability or democracy. The Kenyan initiative may increase the number of "inactive" opposition groups in Juba, but it is unlikely to secure the peace that South Sudan desperately needs. In view of the elections that have already been postponed and are now scheduled for December 2024, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Cardinal Michael Czerny, visiting South Sudan (see Agenzia Fides 6/2/2024) had the closeness of the Pope and the Holy See to the South Sudanese people and renewed the appeal to the country's leaders to "commit to peace and stability on the path to a democratic transition." For his part, President Kiir expressed hope that the mediation would produce positive results. "We hope that opposition groups share a similar belief and desire for peace in South Sudan, which, once fully achieved, will bring lasting stability and economic development to the region," he said. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 14/5/2024)