THE POLITICAL OPPOSITION FORCES
Republic of South Sudan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: 11th July 2017
All-inclusive negotiations toward a new agreement are essential to sustainable peace in South Sudan.
We, RSS Rescue Group members welcome the decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to convene a High-level Revitalization Forum of all parties—including estranged groups- to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS).
However, we are concerned that the purpose is limited to discuss full implementation of ARCSS, a process that was derailed by the resumption of hostilities in July 2016. Many aspects of ARCSS remain relevant, but many other aspects have been fatally fractured. Furthermore, because the situation in South Sudan is now so fundamentally different from that which prevailed when ARCSS was signed, we feel strongly that the Agreement, as it is, can no longer serve as a platform for just and sustainable peace in the current context.
The number of actors, armed and un-armed, has multiplied dramatically in the past year, as have the fault-lines among them. New dynamics have developed. The conflicts are not only more numerous, but also more intense, complex, brutal and emotionally-charged than before. The increasingly unrestrained violence makes the prospect of peace agreement between the belligerents only hopeless.
ARCSS was mainly an understanding between armed belligerents; it excluded other actors who matter for its implementation. Yet, the government which got the lion’s share in the agreement abrogated the same and pushed the excluded South Sudanese further to the wall. It is this action that drove others to take up arms, further complicating the conflict.
The Juba regime also continues to express its disdain for ARCSS, while sowing discord among parties hitherto not part of the conflict as a way of sustaining itself in power.
While ARCSS and the process that led to it hold many lessons, it is time to be realistic, admit that it has collapsed and start a new political process. Future South Sudan negotiations must focus not on reviving a now largely irrelevant agreement, but on ending the new conflicts, reversing the humanitarian catastrophe, and building a just and sustainable peace through an inclusive process.
We therefore urge IGAD, the Troika, the AU and the UN to invest effort, time and resources in a new, all-inclusive political process and the drafting of a new agreement that will be supported and owned by all South Sudanese.