“We believe the old political configuration of Kiir and Machar is not capable of addressing the national crisis. A new leadership should be supported to introduce genuine political and socio-economic transformations in the country,” Thomas Cirillo Swaka, leader of the NAS rebel group, said in a statement dated October 17.
The former army official told the UN Security Council that South Sudan under Salva Kiir has been tribalized and the army has been turned into ethnic militias and that the art of good governance is unknown and non-existence.
He said the role of the regional and international actors, including the UN Security Council should not only focus their mandate on saving lives by halting the violence and assisting the supply of aid, but also creating an enabling environment for long-term stability to prevent future conflict and loss of lives safeguarded by holding those who have obstructed the implementation of the peace agreement and engineered the violence accountable.
The South Sudanese rebel leader urged the UN Security Council to empower UNMISS with clear mandates to protect civilians and enforce its own resolution on the deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF).
“We urge the UNSC to play a leading role in making sure that any new peace agreement is fully implemented. It is not enough to allow the regional actors to supervise the implementation of the agreement. They have already failed in implementing the signed 2015 peace agreement. It is important for the Security Council to speak with one voice on issues pertaining to peace and security in South Sudan. We noticed that different member states have different positions on how the conflict should be addressed,” Carillo said.
The rebel leader asked the United Nations Security Council to hold those obstructing the implementation of the peace agreement and committed crimes against humanity in the country accountable including the top leaders.
In March, Swaka resigned from his position as the deputy chief of staff for logistics and formed a new rebel group to fight against opposed President Kiir’s administration.
South Sudan’s government bears “primary responsibility” for incessant violence in the country, according to a new United Nations report that also criticises East African and US mediation efforts.
A UN Panel of Experts presented the starkly negative assessment in an update on the South Sudan conflict issued on Thursday.
The five-member panel established by the UN Security Council cited an absence of political will to implement a 2015 peace agreement and to address “the destructive governance practices and historical grievances that continue to drive the conflict in South Sudan”.
The experts attribute these failures to “the political and military elite of the country, with the primary responsibility for the ongoing violence resting with those in the government, led by the president, Salva Kiir, and the first vice-president, Taban Deng Gai”.
Neighbouring nations continue to experience adverse impacts of the nearly four-year-long civil war, yet are making no effective efforts to negotiate an end to the fighting, the report says.
Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and the four other member-states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) have not generated “a coherent political process backed by genuine pressure on the parties”, the experts found.
“Each Igad member is dealing with significant national challenges that, coupled with long-standing and complex regional rivalries, continue to undermine consensus on South Sudan,” the report adds.
An ensuing proliferation of uncoordinated diplomatic initiatives has enabled the warring forces to “forum-shop”, the panel warns.
The government and armed opposition groups “engage selectively in various processes while buying time for military operations, and avoid attempts to enforce a political settlement to the conflict”, the report says.
The Trump administration is implicitly criticised for failing to sustain US attempts to resolve the conflict.
“The leadership of the United States and other nations that previously exerted leverage in the region has also waned considerably in 2017,” the panel said.
The report makes note of complaints concerning US support for the continued exclusion of opposition leader Riek Machar from peace-making efforts.
Some opposition groups view this refusal to include Dr Machar in the search for a settlement as an impediment to a neutral mediation approach by outsiders, the panel states.
The political impasse, along with government military offensives in recent months, have substantially worsened an already dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan, the experts conclude.
“The population faces intersecting threats of violence and insecurity, large-scale population displacement, extreme food insecurity and an escalating national economic crisis,” the report notes.
“The actions of South Sudanese leaders have done nothing to address these threats, and there is unlikely to be an improvement in the foreseeable future absent a significant change in the national and international approach to the conflict.”