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South Sudan peace process: It’s down to (lack of) finances, political will

The Security Arrangement remains a sticking point as the signatories to the September 2018 South Sudan peace agreement strive to meet the terms of forming a transitional government in November 12.

The government of President Salva Kiir is constrained to funding the process while the international community has withheld its financial support because of corruption.

According to the security arrangements of the agreement, all fighting forces belonging to the signatories were supposed to be cantoned in various camps, registered, trained and united under the new body of the South Sudan Defence Forces, while at the same time demilitarising the cities.

The cantonment has been slow, prompting the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development to direct in August that at least 50 per cent of the 83,000 unified forces be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed before the end of September.

The deadline was not met mainly due to lack of finance as President Kiir only released $30 million out of the $100 million he had pledged.

Gen Augustine Njoroge, the Interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission said that the government fulfill its pledge of funding the implementation of peace in a timely and predictable manner.

Most of the cantonment camps, especially for Dr Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM- IO) lack trainers, food and shelter.

Last week, the SPLA-IO’s deputy commander in Western Equatoria, Gen Barnaba Malesh, said that 8,000 SPLA-IO soldiers in Sector 6—Kediba, Ngiri and Mudubai areas—lack medical services, food and clean drinking water.

Lack of registration forms

Out of the 8,000 troops currently occupying the three cantonment sites in the region, only 2,000 have been registered because forms are lacking.

The cantonment areas depend on food bought by the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, but are not sufficient.

Analysts say that the bottom line is the lack of finances and the lack of political will by President Kiir to finance the implementation and pre-transition timelines.

Jervasio Okot, a political analyst told The EastAfrican that by the Troika (Norway, the UK and the US) denying South Sudan funding, makes it easy for those elements within government that are not interested in implementing the peace agreement to hide behind paucity.

The US has taken the lead in denying South Sudan funding, citing corruption. Sudan Page, who was the ambassador to South Sudan under the Obama administration, had made it clear that her country had pumped in $5 billion since 2005 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed.

On October 2, US assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs Tibor Nagy, repeated the same when he said, “Once the international community is satisfied with the use the money is being put into, at that point maybe we can discuss additional support.”

Mr Nagy added that the priority for South Sudan was to ensure a transitional government is in place on November 12.

Given the donor fatigue that is growing on South Sudan following concerns over corruption, and that the US maintains that Juba should use its oil resources to fund the transition with strict accountability on revenues and expenditures.

The Western world has been accusing the Kiir government of hoarding money and using it to compromise the opposition and pay off some neighbouring countries who are doing their dirty work, while civil servants go for up to six months without pay.

In June, South Sudan MPs stormed out of a budget presentation by the Finance minister citing frustrations over non-payment of salaries to civil servants and soldiers.

Economic recovery
“Our army is cutting down trees to make a living, our foreign missions are closing down for lack of money since it is now almost one year since we paid them,” shouted legislator Elizabeth Adut in parliament before the presentation of the budget for financial year 2019/20 began.

The economy is struggling to recover from armed conflict and the recent increase in oil production from 120,000 to 245,000 barrels per day, due to the ceasefire holding, has given some hope.

Before the war erupted in 2013, South Sudan was churning out 350,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

But any form of economic recovery could be easily shattered by renewed fighting if the security arrangements are not made in line with the agreement, given that a recent UN report said that both sides have been recruiting in preparation for a negative outcome.

A face-to-face meeting in September between President Kiir and Dr Machar had resolved that all 40 cantonment sites for the SPLM-IO forces should start operating immediately.

Second, all VIP protection formations were supposed to be put under cantonment where they were to undergo registration, screening, selection, and unification and training carried out.

Also, the Tiger Division, which acts as President Kiir’s elite security, should be given preferential treatment, but must undergo the same as all soldiers.

The two leaders agreed to create a special unite called Republican Guards, that will responsible for protecting opposition leaders, in which half of them will come from SPLM-IO.

None of these is going to take place without financing.

By The Eastafrica 

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