South Sudan is hosting a high-Level peace process with Sudan and the UN Peace Envoy to facilitate the country’s long peace journey. The visit by the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix is designed to help breathe life into the yet unpredictable and somewhat stable peace process and to express the commitment of the United Nations to supporting the people of South Sudan as they transition from war to peace, recovery, and development.
For the last 18 months, the situation has been rather challenging for the country and the people of South Sudan and also for our colleagues here because of the challenges that already existed before COVID-19 but also additional challenges resulting from COVID-19,” said USG Lacroix. “I think it’s important to come here and express the UN’s commitment to South Sudan and its people and support their efforts but also to express support and gratitude to our UN colleagues.”
Following a five year civil war, the warring factions signed a peace deal in September 2018. Since then, political violence has significantly reduced although sporadic fighting continues at the community level in pockets of the country, particularly in the states of Western Equatoria and Warrap.
Importantly the key players in resolving that conflict and pushing the peace process forward is the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar. The delegation held lengthy to discuss vital issues, such as the conflict around Tambura and the delayed graduation and deployment of unified security forces, the permanent constitution-making process, and preparations for elections.
Also in the meeting, was Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior who said general political, security and humanitarian issues. The peace agreement requires parties to ensure 35 percent representation of women in all governance structures. The country has appointed its first female Speaker and a lot has to be done.
According to Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, “Women are more realistic about issues because they are mothers, they are wives, they are sisters, so they know what a country is, what is a nation. It is a nation without people, the women know about this. Some of the men are concerned about their positions but the women are concerned about the life of people,”
The delegation also met with civil society groups and faith-based leaders who want the political leaders to live up to their promises.
Father James Oyet Latansio, General Secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches said the South Sudanese leadership needs to remember that they told the global leadership in Rome that they will never take their country back to war.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix took that message on board by reinforcing the importance of civil society and communities more broadly engaging in the peace process and holding their leaders to account.
The UN Diplomat also said, “You cannot build durable peace if you don’t engage the civil society, the communities, the people basically in their diversity, the women and the youth, and these representatives of the civil society,”
Political and security discussions will continue tomorrow with meetings scheduled with the country’s President and Defense Minister as well as all-important women’s groups who are working to build durable peace.