UNMISS hails agreement on governance as an important step in resolution of South Sudanese conflict
The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, has welcomed the signing of an agreement on outstanding governance issues as an important step forward in the revitalization of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the country.
“The positive reaction of many people across South Sudan today indicates they are encouraged by the progress that has been made,” said Mr. Shearer, in reference to the agreement which was penned on Sunday night here in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, ending days of speculation about whether all political parties would sign or not.
The signing of the agreement was met with expressions of joy and hope, with South Sudanese citizens attending the signing ceremony in Khartoum hailing what they saw as a real chance for peace in their country.
“If [President] Salva Kiir and Machar disagree again, let them not fight, because people are tired,” said Aidah Hassan Luga, a South Sudanese woman who had been waiting at the venue of the signing ceremony since 8:00AM.
Away from Khartoum, there were celebrations in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, too on Monday.
Brokered by Sudan’s Presidents Omar al-Bashir and regional leaders under the auspices of IGAD, the regional Inter-Governmental Authority for Development, the hitherto-elusive agreement on outstanding governance issues was signed by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit and key opposition leaders, including former Vice President Riek Machar Teny for the SPLM in Opposition; Gabriel Changson Chang for the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA); Deng Alor for the SPLM-Former Detainees, and Joseph Okello for Other Political Parties (OPP).
Host president Omar al-Bashir and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda signed as guarantors, while the UN and the African Union signed as witnesses, at a ceremony that was also attended by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti.
Somalia, which itself endured more than two decades of a bloody conflict, sent Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire, while Ethiopia, which has been hosting the High Level Revitalization Forum to negotiate a political solution to South Sudan’s crisis, was represented by Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen.
Both President Kiir and his former deputy were in agreement that signing the the deal on the outstanding issues on governance was not enough in itself, underscoring the need to implement it — a view shared by David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
“There is still some way to go before a final and enduring peace agreement is reached with further talks to be held in Khartoum on outstanding security matters and the implementation of the agreement,” noted Mr Shearer, referring to the talks which will continue in Khartoum to iron out outstanding issues, including establishing a blueprint for the implementation of the peace agreement; the timetable for the return of the opposition leaders, and redeployment of troops.
Mr. Shearer pledged the continued support of the UN mission for the peace process.
“UNMISS will continue to monitor and support the peace negotiations as the parties work towards a genuinely inclusive and durable peace agreement for the sake of the people of South Sudan,” promised Shearer.
For months now, there have been concerns over power-sharing and the number of states in South Sudan, with the vice presidential position becoming a sticky matter and the centre of contention over who and how many deputy presidents there would be. Now though, the deal is done, with five vice presidential positions, forty-five ministers, and five hundred and fifty parliamentary positions which, President Kiir admitted, creates a logistical nightmare in terms of office space and other facilities.