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  • on 28.08.2015
  • at 01:33 PM
  • by evelina

South Sudan: The beginning of the end of the civil war? 0

In Addis Ababa, a grinning President Salva Kiir finally put pen to paper on a peace deal for South Sudan. Better 10 days late than never. While sceptics are right to wonder if his signature is anything more than a PR stunt, the truth is that peace doesn’t come easy – and this is as good a place to start as any.

On Tuesday, 10 days after his rebel counterpart Riek Machar, President Salva Kiir signed the peace deal for South Sudan. This was not without drama, as Kiir kept reporters in Addis Ababa guessing until the last second, and nor was it an unequivocal endorsement of the text: Kiir insisted on appending a list of reservations, which he carefully initialled.

Titled the Compromise Peace Agreement, the agreement outlines mechanisms for a power-sharing government; the formation of a new national army; the demilitarisation of the capital, Juba; and extensive security sector reform.

In theory, this is cause for celebration: it should mark the end of South Sudan’s brutal 20-month long civil war, which has already claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people and displaced more than 2-million more.

But even though Kiir was smiling, no one’s buying the theory. Even the most optimistic observer of South Sudanese politics knows this is just a small step in a long, traumatic process, while the sceptics dismiss the agreement as a poorly-disguised publicity stunt.

The sceptics have a point. This is not the first peace deal that Kiir, the veteran, inveterate fighter, has signed; nor will it be the last. The same applies to Machar. Both have a long and ignominious track record when it comes to ignoring supposedly binding bits of paper, one that dates back to the many years of torturous negotiations that created South Sudan. And in this particular conflict alone, according to the BBC, at least seven ceasefires have been brokered and then broken – sometimes within hours.

There are also legitimate concerns that neither Kiir nor Machar are fully in control of the various armed groups and militias that supposedly answer to them. Even with the best will in the world, can they really enforce the agreement? This is certainly true for Machar: days before he signed, two of his top generals said they no longer respected his authority, and that he was not empowered to negotiate on their behalf.

Continue reading on: The Daily Maverick 

by Simon Allison

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Isaac Billy Gideon Lu’b

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