Conflict Resolution, Peace, and Security in South Sudan
By Francis Jor,
Sep 12, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — South Sudan is one of the youngest countries in the world and was born after a referendum in January 2011 to decide whether the region should remain part of Sudan or become independent. The South Sudanese people voted overwhelmingly for independence and an independent state was formed as a result. However, despite the secession, the young country has been riddled with conflict and insecurity issues. The forces of the government clashed with the forces of the opposition, with the President Salva Kiir accusing his deputy Riek Machar of attempts to overthrow the government. Machar fled and led the opposition forces, thus triggering a civil war.
The Dinka ethnic group, to which President Kiir belongs, has been accused of attacking other ethnic groups. On the other hand, the Nuer ethnic group to which Vice president Machar belongs was also accused of attacking the Dinka. As a result of the conflicts between these ethnic groups and others, over 4 million people have been displaced, with over 2.4 million people seeking refuge in the neighbouring countries of Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.
While the source of these conflicts have been over the sharing of power, other disputes have arisen over the sharing of oil revenues. The government was accused by the United States and other groups of using starvation tactics against its people as punishment for supporting rebel groups. Many atrocities have been done in the course of the conflict, majorly ethnic cleansing, the 2014 Bentiu massacre, child abuse, displacement of people and sexual violence. In addition, the United Nations and other foreign workers have found themselves as victims of the conflict.
In January 2014, as the conflict and fighting continued, IGAD, an eight-country trading bloc in Africa, led the mediations and direct negotiations between the government and the opposition. In a bid to ensure that IGAD had a stronger position in the negotiations, the troops from the government were assisted by troops from the Ugandan government.
Following the negotiations, a ceasefire agreement was reached, with one of the elements of the deal requiring the release of the arrested rebel leaders affiliated to Riek Machar. A month after the ceasefire agreement, rebel troops attacked strategic regions in control of the government, effectively sabotaging the efforts of peace and a long-lasting solution.
In May 2014, President Kiir and Riek Machar signed another ceasefire agreement in Ethiopia, where they committed to abiding by the first agreement. A month later, during the talks to find a solution and incorporate both sides in the government, the talks broke down, with Machar claiming that IGAD was favouring Kiir. Many other negotiations continued, albeit unsuccessfully.
In 2016, Riek Machar announced an armed struggle against President Kiir, and other opposing factions declared war against the government. The African Union backed plans to intervene, although Kiir would reject such plans, citing breach of the sovereignty of South Sudan. As the conflict continued in 2017, another conflict arose in the opposition, between those loyal to Riek Machar and those loyal to Taban Deng, who served as the Vice President after Riek Machar led rebel groups.
In March 2018, nine opposition groups came together to have collective negotiations with the government. The president would sign a peace deal with Machar, bringing an end to a civil war that spanned five years. By the start of the year 2020, most of the contentious issues leading to the conflict had been solved, thus improving the state of security in the country. While peace was found, and the levels of insecurity are rare or minimal, there remains much work to do by the government to ensure that the new-found peace is long-lasting.
The author, Francis Jor, is an Entrepreneur and Activist. He resides in Seattle, Washington, United States of America, and can be reached for more information through email at firstname.lastname@example.org,
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