8 January 2016

South Sudan: Peace Deal Is a 'Result of External Pressure'

Photo: Jacob Zocherman/IRIN
Victims of South Sudan's civil war: Civilians wait to collect their rations at a United Nations facility.
interview

Political analysts say the peace deal in South Sudan will not see the light of day if the root cause of a two-year civil war is not addressed. Lack of trust among rivals remains a stumbling block.

Riek Machar will return to Juba to take up the position of vice president, a post from which he was sacked in 2013.

That is what was agreed in the power-sharing deal on Friday (08.01.2016). Machar however still has to travel to the capital to take up his position. No timeline was given for when the new cabinet would be named. Peter Schumann, the former director of the UN mission in southern Sudan spoke to DW.

DW: Could this be a new era for South Sudan now that Salva Kiir has agreed to share power with his arch nemesis Riek Machar?

Peter Schumann: We now have an understanding of who will take which ministry and who will perform which function in this transitional government of the national unity. I think it is a formality. It is the outcome of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities. Politically, I don't think a lot has changed. There is no resolution of the underlying causes of outbreak of the violence in December 2013. The SPLM remains deeply divided, the scheduled convention is due to take place in these coming days. According to my information, this convention will not be attended by Riek Machar or Pagan Amum or others from the opposition. So, I'm very sceptical. In my view this agreement on who takes which ministry is a result of external pressure but not a result of an internal political process or a sense that the war should stop.

How easy is it going to be for Kiir and Machar to work together for the sake of peace and development in South Sudan?

I don't see a fair chance of this happening. If you look at the list of the ministries, the government will retain 16 ministries, the SPLM in the opposition will take 10 ministries, the former detainees take two and two other ministries will be given to other political parties. Now, a government with thirty ministers on such shaky ground where there is no trust between the protagonists can simply not work. If I look at the list of the ministries, there is so much overlap, that you cannot really define the responsibilities of each ministry. This government is not going to be able to deliver services, in particular security and safety for the people of South Sudan.

The rebels got key ministerial posts including oil, foreign and humanitarian affairs, while the government got posts including defense, national security, finance and justice. Is this fair?

It is not a fair deal for the people of South Sudan, because they are excluded from the entire deal making. Salva Kiir has appointed an additional 50 lawmakers. They should have been appointed through a more transparent process. An option would have been a lot of negotiations, a lot more deal-making, a lot more trust-building between these different groups, instead of this massive external pressure. We have seen in the past that this peace will not last.

The government in Juba is not happy that Machar wants to maintain his army and doesn't want to come to Juba. Isn't this a hindrance to the peace deal itself?

This is an indicator of lack of trust, neither Riek Machar, Pagan Amum nor Salva Kiir or any other players really trust each other,. They know that they had to come to an agreement because of the external pressure but they do not trust each other. Therefore they will all insist on maintaining some form of fighting capacity which simply means they all calculate that the eruption of violence is an option.

How long do you think the two should start working together to avoid an outright war?

I don't have a recipe, I can only observe and analyze. It is very difficult to provide another recipe. To me a resolution lies in a much broader participation and respect for civil society in South Sudan.

Assuming that these ministries will be filled with ministers and deputy ministers, they will all try to benefit as much as possible from public properties, from revenues and they will try to satisfy their followers. So there will be very little left for general population. The state will continue to be robbed.

Peter Schumann is a former UN coordinator in southern Sudan.

More on This

Rebels Not Satisfied With Power-Sharing Deal, but Accept It, Says Spokesman

Ministerial posts will be shared between the government and rebels, President Salva Kiir announced on Friday. The… Read more »

Copyright © 2016 Deutsche Welle. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 1,000 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.