Progress reported at the HLRF as Gov’t endorses “an inclusive government”

Posted: May 20, 2018 by Emmanuel Ariech Deng in Emmanuel Ariech Deng, HLRF, Junub Sudan, PaanLuel Wël

Major breakthrough reported at the HLRF as Government delegation endorses the formation of an inclusive revitalized transitional government

By Emmanuel Ariech Deng, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Weeping and prayers at the 4th day of the HLRF

Weeping and prayers at the 4th day of the HLRF

Sunday, May 20, 2018 (PW) — A major progress has been made at the IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) of the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) as government delegation endorsed the formation of an inclusive revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) in Juba, South Sudan.

The breakthrough was announced via a press statement this afternoon in Addis Ababa by South Sudan’s minister for information and government spokesperson, Michael Makwei Lueth. “So far we have agreed on inclusivity. This is something agreed even though we are still in disagreement on the type of inclusivity,” Hon. Michael Makwei revealed. He also added that the warring parties have agreed on cantonment of all forces.

According to Michael Makwei, this is a major concession on the part of the government which has been insisting on maintaining the status quo in Juba, with President Salva Kiir, 1st Vice President Taban Deng and Vice President James Wani Igga, at the helm of the revitalized transitional government. The SPLM-IO has proposed that the composition of the revitalized transitional government should include all parties invited to and currently participating at the HLRF in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The news of the reported progress at the HLRF in Addis Ababa has received mixed reactions from the people of South Sudan.  “This is the most fruitful step towards peace and reconciliation reached by the warring parties in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” said Mr. Juuk Othana Mading, the Executive Director of The Jonglei Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (JIPDD), a Bor-based a civil society organization.

“This raise hope for peace and unity among South Sudanese back home because it is a clear demonstration that South Sudanese leaders are willing and able to resolve their differences and restore peace in the country,” Juuk added optimistically.

SPLM-IO youth leader, Jesus Deng Atem, who has been keenly following the HLRF proceedings in Addis Ababa, concurs with Juuk thus: “It is an incredible step if the [Juba] regime continue with the same spirit and we hope young people will be well represented in that inclusive government.”

However, some South Sudanese have dismissed the reported concession from the government as a ploy to buy time and hoodwink the people of South Sudan. “I wonder why the government is making a big show out of it,” said Jon Pende Ngong, a Nairobi-based South Sudanese political activist who is currently in Addis Ababa as part of the South Sudan Civil Society Forum at the HLRF.

Pende Ngong speculated that the real reason could be that the government is trying “to give people hope and shield themselves from the grassroots fury.” He accused the government of blocking youth’s demand for their percentage in the revitalized transitional government. “We are actually in a joint youth meeting and writing a petition to the mediation on the exclusivity of the youth in the agreement. We are actually protesting Makuei’s today’s action of shutting down the youth’s demand for their percentage in the agreement,” he explained.

Bishop Zackeria ManyokBiar and Bishop Arkangelo W.Lemi and Bishop Justin Badia

Bishop Zacharia Manyok Biar and Bishop Arkangelo W. Lemi and Bishop Justin Badia leading prayers in Addis Ababa during the fourth day of the HLRF

This reported progress came on the fourth day of the HLRF which began with a deeply moving and emotional prayers convened by the South Sudan Council of Churches in an effort to influence peace delegates to compromise for peace. As reported by UNMISS Radio Miraya, “It was a moving and deeply emotional prayer service as delegates at the peace talks in Addis-Ababa gathered and humbled themselves for prayers on Sunday morning. Kneeling in desperation and broken down in tears, women wept and pleaded for peace, begging their leaders to stop the suffering and bring peace.”

Speaking during the prayers this morning at Elilly International Hotel in Addis Ababa, Bishop Zachariah Manyok Biar of the Episcopal Church said that forgiveness is not limited to friends only, but also to an enemy as well as to your neighbor. The Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Bishop Justin Badia, who also presided over the prayers, said the church has been instrumental in bringing the leaders together for the sake of peace.

A woman delegate, Sarah Nyanath, stormed the congregation into tears when she pleaded to God: “King of kings, if women, children and elderly have died and most of them suffered in this war, come among us and give your ruling.” Nyanath appealed to government and opposition delegations to put God forward before they make decisions on the outstanding issues on governance and security arrangements.

“We cannot allow South Sudan to be taken hostage by this positions. It has now become more urgent for President Salva Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar and all the leaders including myself, we should all step side,” declared Pagan Amum, the de facto leader of the Former Political Detainees, after today’s prayer where he knelt down and shed tears.

Bishop Enock Tombe implored the warring parties to compromise their hardened positions and give peace a chance: “The next thing is negotiating the unresolved issues; let us do it as South Sudanese, not as warring parties.” However, South Sudan government high profiled delegates, Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial and Hon. Michael Makuei, were not seen in the prayer hall. Dr. Francis Mading was among the congregation alongside Hon. Deng Alor Kuol and Hon. John Luk Jok.

The Church has a long history of playing a leading role in bringing peace to the people of South Sudan. The 1972 Addis Ababa Accord that ended the first civil war between the north and south of the historical Sudan was initiated and facilitated by the church. In the aftermath of the 1991 Nasir coup and split within the SPLM, the church took the lead to bring the two warring parties together in Nairobi, Kenya.

Again, it was the church that initiated and negotiated the famous Wunlit Peace Conference in 1999 between the Nuer and Dinka communities leading to a durable peace and reconciliation. In 2002 when Dr. Riek Machar rejoined the SPLM/SPLA under the leadership of Dr. John Garang, Salva Kiir and James Wani Igga, it was the church that mediated the reunion between the two bitter rivals, a reunion that saw the successful negotiation of the 2005 CPA that led to the independence of South Sudan.

Mr. Edmund Yakani, the veteran South Sudanese civil society leader and the executive director of the Juba-based Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), praised the religious leaders: “At least the manner in which the faith-based leaders are handling the process is encouraging and motivating. We are hopeful that the faith-based leaders can make some results realized that will make peace happen.”

However, in spite of the reported breakthrough in Addis Ababa, major outstanding issues relating to governance and security arrangements remain to be resolved among the warring parties. Among the unsettled governance issues are: (1) composition of the revitalized transitional government, (2) structure of the revitalized transitional government, (3) responsibility/power sharing in the revitalized transitional government, (4) number of states, and (5) size and composition of the revitalized parliament.

In relation to the security arrangements, the warring parties have failed to strike a compromise on the following key areas: (1) time-frame for reintegration/unification of forces and approach to the formation of one national army, (2) security for Juba city during the transitional period, (3) demilitarization of civilian centers, (4) cantonment of forces, and (5) security sector reform or establishment of new security arrangements.

The international community remains optimistic that peace negotiation is the best path of ending the war and bring about long lasting peace, security and economic stability in the war-torn South Sudan. However, the 2015 peace agreement negotiated by the regional bloc have brought no peace to South Sudan. Therefore, IGAD is under tremendous pressure from the people of South Sudan and the international community not to repeat the same mistakes that doomed the 2015 peace agreement.

prayers at the HLRF

South Sudan was plunged into a deadly civil war in December 2013 following a leadership contest in the ruling SPLM party when President Kiir and his then deputy, Dr. Riek Machar, failed to agree on the best method of conducting party election for the post of the chairmanship. Winning the post of the chairperson of the ruling SPLM party is widely seen as an assured way of clinching the presidency.

The five year old civil war has displaced over four million people, crippled the economy, frayed social fabric and exacerbated underdevelopment in a nation besieged by conflict for the best part of its nascent existence.

Reporting by PaanLuel Wel Media Correspondent, Emmanuel Ariech Deng, at the IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Editing by PaanLuel Wel from Juba, South Sudan.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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