Juba, January 19, 2019 (SSNA) — A former United Nations expert says the ongoing peace process in South Sudan has a little chance of success, saying there are already signs the agreement could collapse like the August 2015 pact which collapsed in July 2016.
In a recent article published by the African Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. Klem Ryan, who was with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) from 2013 and 2015 and a former member of the UN Security Council Panel of Expert from 2015 through 2018, argues that militia groups linked to the government and the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) have carried out attacks on other armed factions, specifically the National Salvation Front (NAS) opposed to the deal. He adds that government forces are also attacking civilians it sees as pro-rebels. Ryan believes that these joint operations appear to have the backing of Uganda.
Dr. Ryan also states that the five-year-old civil war is “fighting is linked to the control of land resources.” The former UN expert warns that if the government, SPLA-IO, and Juba-linked militias continue to attack NAS forces and NAS leader Thomas Cirillo keeps refusing to be part of the deal, then a large-scale war could erupt. Dr. Ryan also says Uganda is likely to deploy troops to Equatoria region as it did in 2014 to fight alongside South Sudan’s forces against any rebel group opposed to Salva Kiir’s government.
In the piece, Dr. Ryan discloses that the issue of cantonment sites was caused tension between SPLA-IO and government forces in 2015. He asserts that there are signs tension between troops allied to rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar and government forces have already begun, saying, “Current tensions over cantonment are already beginning to take shape.” In the text, Ryan explains that the SPLM/A-IO follows what is written the Khartoum’s agreement by ordering its forces to cantonment areas while Juba is not doing the same thing. Ryan proclaims that Kiir does not want to have his forces at cantonment sites because he does not want the SPLA-IO to know the real number of his troops and warns that the SPLA-IO revealing all its forces at cantonment areas is good diplomacy.
He warns that if the government is not for real peace, then it could one day inflicted heavy damages on the SPLA-IO because Juba would be able to know the exact number of the armed opposition force and their locations. “Machar has, as of early December 2018, ordered his forces to begin forming in cantonment sites. No reciprocal order appears to have been issued to government forces,” Dr. Ryan writes, adding, “Kiir does not have an incentive to reveal the size of his forces, or their disposition, as this would encourage the opposition to seek parity and likely encourage further opposition recruitment. Furthermore, revealing accurate troop numbers would be strategically disadvantageous in the event of a return to fighting. Therefore, if Kiir engages in cantonment, it is likely only to be partially and for political appearances.”
The South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) was told by a reliable source in December last year that there are at least two new military sites in Luri for new military recruits and that the sites are already operational. Peace monitors were detained, assaulted, and robbed in December 2018 when they attempt to investigate evidence of the new military training camps.