South Sudan’s foreign minister has again said his government is committed to the implementation of the peace agreement signed last August between rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar and the Juba government led by President Salva Kiir.
This came as South Sudan announced Monday that its forces have begun withdrawing from the capital, Juba in line with an August 26 agreement.
But Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said now is the time for the international community to make good on its promise to provide the necessary logistical support for the implementation of the peace agreement.
“As you know, when our president, Salva Kiir Mayardit signed on the 26 of August the agreement on the resolution of conflict in South Sudan and we immediately declared a permanent cease-fire and as soon after that instructed the army commanders to start the relocation of SPLA troops to 25 kilometers. And today of course the process started to move government troops to the located area,” he said.
Benjamin said the South Sudan government will continue to do what it must do to show South Sudanese and the international community that the peace process must be implemented.
The August 26 peace deal calls for a 30-month transitional period with both the rebels and government sharing power, followed by elections perhaps in 2018.
Benjamin said the Juba government is expecting members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition led by former Vice President Machar to send their advance team to Juba.
The agreement calls for the withdrawal of all military forces within 15 miles of the Juba within 90 days from August 26, and that deadline comes this week.
Benjamin said any delay in meeting the deadline should be blamed on the rebels and the regional group IGAD.
“If there are any delays, it is not on the Republic of South Sudan government. That will be the responsibility of IGAD as well as the SPLA-IO and former detainees,” Benjamin said.
FILE - South Sudan government soldiers in the town of Koch, Unity state, South Sudan.
He said the international community promise to support the peace process leaves a lot to be desired.
“We really need support. For example, the relocation of our troops now – we will need some tents for accommodation; we need some logistical support in terms of clinic at least for health service. And these are things we thought that the international community, the UN system and everybody who have been pushing for peace we are not seeing them coming forward,” Benjamin said.
A regional peace summit of leaders of the Intergovernmental Authority (IGAD) which was scheduled to take place Monday, November 23 in the South Sudanese capital, was postponed.
The leaders of IGAD were scheduled to consult on how the peace agreement could be implemented and to encourage the two main warring parties and to declare officially and publicly that the war has officially come to an end.
Benjamin said the meeting was postponed at the request of the IGAD leaders.
“For example, (Kenyan) President Uhuru [Kenyatta] is busy preparing for the Pope’s visit on the 25th and 26th even 27th. And then the Pope proceeds to Uganda and a meeting with President Museveni. That visit takes place on the 27th, 28th and 29th. And so these heads of state will not be able to make it,” he said.