JUBA – The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Special Representative of the Secretary General Nicholas Haysom has raised concerns over the ongoing violent confrontations between different factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA (IO) saying the squabble may undermine the implementation of the security arrangements provided for in the revitalized peace agreement.
General Simon Gatwech Dual, a former SPLA-IO military chief, attempted to remove First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar from the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA-IO in early August after accusing him of surrendering to President Salva Kiir Mayardit’s regime at the expense of thousands of opposition fighters who have largely remained outside the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement signed by Machar with Kiir in 2018.
Machar immediately issued a communiqué dismissing the attempt by Gen. Gatwech and then accused unidentified ‘peace spoilers’ of standing behind the Kitgwang commanders. A few days later, deadly fighting broke out in Magenis after opposition forces loyal to Machar attacked Gen. Simon Gatwech Dual’s forces, an assault which resulted in the killing of several opposition fighters loyal to both leaders.
In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council last week, Haysom warned that the SPLM-IO infighting will likely undermine the implementation of the security arrangements which is the most important provision of the deal saying the disagreements within the opposition group have already shifted balance of power between the signatories to the agreement.
“The desertions by forces led by Generals Gatwech, Olony, and Thomas Dhul, and the conflicts between these groups and the forces loyal to Riek Machar will undermine the peace process. At the political level, this [crisis] has exacerbated the imbalance between the main parties to the revitalized peace agreement. It is imperative that the parties put aside adversarial politics to work as a unity government in support of peace,” he said on September 15.
“For this reason, I joined the IGAD Council of Ministers and the South Sudan Presidency in calling on both factions to resolve their differences peacefully and politically. For example, the electoral process can only be guaranteed by an impartial, unified security apparatus. The lack of progress in the implementation of the transitional security arrangements is now a major challenge,” he added.
The top United Nations diplomat further commended the role of the region in encouraging the parties to ensure timely graduation of the unified forces and said “President Kiir has, himself, assured that this will be agreed imminently, as will the graduation of uniformed personnel currently stationed in training centers.”
“We encourage the parties to compromise in the interest of achieving this vital benchmark without further delay.”