The brokers of the South Sudan peace deal who have been monitoring its implementation have warned that following the failure of rebel leader Riek Machar to return to the capital, it may turn out a failure.
Riek Machar had been expected back in the capital on Monday to take up the post as the new country’s first vice president in a unity government, which was a key part of the South Sudan peace deal engineered to end the conflict which has raged on for over two years. The US has expressed its disappointment at Mr Machar’s decision not to abide by his own commitments.
The country had waited expectantly for his arrival on Monday, but had been told that he could not make it for logistical issues. Tuesday had featured the second no show blamed again on logistics and administrative issues and the new plan is for him to arrive on Wednesday. A statement from the government on Tuesday had said Mr Machar’s return was delayed as “he wanted to come with an arsenal of arms… anti-tanks, laser guided missiles and heavy machine guns”.
The civil war had initially broken out due to tensions between President Salva Kiir and then vice president Riek Machar, after he was sacked from that position in July 2013. In December 2013, accusations were leveled against Mr Machar on the basis of him attempting to organize a coup. He denied the accusation but it set off a round of tit-for-tat killings which developed into full-blown conflict. Since then, the government and the rebels have been unwilling and therefore slow to implement the peace deal, with reports of ceasefire violations on both sides.
Chairman of the regional monitors, Botswana’s former President Festus Mogae, urged both sides to “ensure that the spirit of reconciliation, compromise and dialogue embodied by the agreement” be protected. A view that was likewise echoed by US State Department spokesman John Kirby, who said that the US and other partners had gone to great lengths to facilitate Mr Machar’s return. He said; “His failure to go to Juba despite efforts from the international community places the people of South Sudan at risk of further conflict and suffering” Mr Kirby also added that his failure to show up undermined “the peace agreement’s reform pillars, which are demilitarising South Sudan, injecting transparency of public finances, and pursuing justice and reconciliation, all of which offer South Sudan a chance for renewal,”.