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Attacks on international observers mid-month violated Sept peace deal and new clashes between govt forces and rebel groups erupted in south. In violation of peace deal, Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), and Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, international observer team Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) reported attacks and detention of personnel from its Monitoring and Verification Team 18 Dec in govt forces’ Luri Training Centre. In south, clashes broke out 16 Dec in Central Equatoria between govt forces and armed opposition group National Salvation Front (NAS), which did not sign R-ARCSS; first major clashes between NAS and govt forces. Alleged former South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC) members in presumed collaboration with South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) – non-signatory of R-ARCSS – 20 Dec carried out attacks in Yei River state, looting and abducting several civilians; NAS 26 Dec denied responsibility. More than twenty officers of main rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), which signed R-ARCSS, 17 Dec flew to Juba to take part in pre-transitional committees and prepare formation of transitional govt. However, underlining delay in implementation of R-ARCSS, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix 18 Dec echoed R-ARCSS Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee’s concerns over failure to establish Independent Boundaries Commission and National Pre-Transitional Committee’s failure to reach quorum. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton 13 Dec announced U.S. would review its aid programs to South Sudan, as leadership “morally bankrupt”.
UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, 16 Nov reportedly said UN might support deployment of forces from regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries to support implementation of peace plan, but suggested extra troops would need to join UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Troika on South Sudan – U.S., UK and Norway – 16 Nov offered cautious support for deployment, but said UN Security Council would need to approve any additional troops. IGAD 16 Nov urged govt to devote more resources to implement peace deal and directed its special envoy to reach out to warring groups who have not signed agreement. South Sudan National Dialogue, unilaterally launched by Kiir in 2017, late Oct put forward proposal to revert to colonial three-province system that would decentralise power. NGO Doctors Without Borders reported that gunmen 19-29 Nov raped 125 women in Bentiu, Northern Liech state; govt denied report. UN “extremely concerned” about dramatic increase of conflict-related sexual violence, despite peace deal signed in Sept.
Rebel leader Riek Machar and Sudanese President Bashir were among high-profile delegates who visited capital Juba 31 Oct for “peace celebration” following signing in Sept of Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). Some rebel and opposition groups continued to reject new peace agreement. Clashes broke out in Yei River state in south between rebel groups National Salvation Front, which did not sign R-ARCSS, and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), which did sign; both groups accused each other of launching initial attacks. Despite cessation of hostilities, ceasefire monitors also identified hotspots for conflict at frontlines south west of Wau in west and in former Unity state in north. UN Security Council 11 Oct extended mandate of UN peacekeeping mission in disputed Abyei region (UNISFA) on Sudan-South Sudan border until 15 April 2019 and conditioned extension beyond that date on neighbours making progress on border demarcation among other measures.
Warring leaders signed further peace deal, but fighting continued in several areas. President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed another peace agreement in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa 12 Sept brokered by Sudanese President Bashir; Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) reinstates Machar as VP among other changes to executive. In line with agreement, Kiir 27 Sept ordered govt to release of all prisoners of war. Rebels of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by Machar 14 Sept accused govt forces of attacking their base in Lasu, near Yei in south west. SPLM-IO rebels 24 Sept reportedly attacked govt forces escorting displaced people in Wau state in west. UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, 18 Sept said fighting between govt forces and armed opposition had continued in former Central Equatoria state in south, former Unity state in north and in Kopera area, Yei River state in south. Govt forces and SPLM-IO accused each other of launching attacks against them in Liech state, formerly part of Unity state in north 24 Sept. Govt soldier opened fire on UN convoy in Yei in south west 15 Sept, wounding one peacekeeper.
President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, having signed security and power-sharing agreements in July, signed further power-sharing agreement in Khartoum 5 Aug. Talks continued on outstanding issues including number of states and their boundaries. Machar initially rejected draft agreement including six-month roadmap for conclusion of final deal put forward 28 Aug, but signed it 30 Aug. Kiir granted general amnesty to rebels including Machar 8 Aug. U.S., UK and Norway 10 Aug expressed concern that arrangements agreed so far were “not realistic or sustainable” and called on parties to “bring in a wider range of stakeholders, and develop clear plans for the transition period”. Kiir 15 Aug told state governors that under deal opposition would take over fourteen of 32 governorships. Mediators from regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development chaired by Sudan 26 Aug proposed compromise on number and boundaries of states but parties remained divided on matter. Army accused Machar’s rebels, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition, of violating ceasefire signed in June by attacking them 21 Aug in two areas of Northern Liech state in north, saying four soldiers and nine rebels killed. Former Botswanan president, Festus Mogae, resigned from position as Chairperson of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission 20 Aug.
Following signing of framework agreement in June, govt and main rebel group signed further security and power-sharing agreements, creating opportunity for leaders to reduce fighting in Aug; other rebel groups raised objections to political deal and violence continued despite ceasefire. Govt and rebel representatives in Sudanese capital, Khartoum 6 July signed agreement on security arrangements that aimed at moving forces out of population centres, unifying and reorganising military, setting up joint security committee, and deciding where to base forces. Presidency said President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar had agreed on peace plan 8 July in Entebbe, Uganda that would see Machar reinstated as first vice president (VP), alongside three other VPs, but faction of rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) allied to Machar 9 July rejected plan, saying rebels should hold two VP positions. Govt and SPLM-IO signed power-sharing agreement in Khartoum 25 July that envisages Machar as VP alongside four others and 35-member govt; twenty ministers from current govt, nine from SPLM-IO and six from other opposition groups. Other opposition groups said deal had shortfalls and lacked clarity on future of legislature. Parliament 12 July passed govt-proposed bill to extend Kiir’s term until 2021, SPLM-IO had called move illegal. UN Security Council 13 July passed U.S.-drafted resolution imposing arms embargo on S Sudan. Govt and rebel forces accused each other of violating ceasefire that came into effect 30 June: fighting 2 July at Maban in former Upper Nile state in far north east reportedly left eighteen civilians dead; fighting also erupted near Wau, former Western Bahr al-Ghazal state in west 20 July. Unidentified gunmen 4 July attacked humanitarian convoy near Mangalla, north of capital Juba, killing one man.
President Kiir and former first VP turned rebel leader Riek Machar signed framework agreement in Sudanese capital Khartoum 27 June, including ceasefire to take effect 30 June, opening opportunity in July to work out comprehensive peace deal. Parties agreed to sign further agreement in next two weeks on composition of new transitional unity govt to rule for three years until general elections. They also agreed to work with Sudan to improve security in oil fields. Kiir and Machar met in Addis Ababa 20 June for first time since fighting re-erupted in 2016. Govt 22 June said Machar could not be part of govt, but that rebel representative could. S Sudan and Sudan 26 June agreed on plan to increase S Sudan’s oil output through rehabilitation of oil infrastructure. Unidentified gunmen ambushed humanitarian convoy between Yei and Lasu in west 26 June, killing Bangladeshi UN peacekeeper.
Signatories of Aug 2015 peace agreement 17 May began third round of talks, known as High Level Revitalisation Forum, mediated by South Sudan Council of Churches under auspices of regional grouping Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); talks broke down 23 May having made no significant progress. IGAD allowed former army chief turned rebel Paul Malong to send representatives to talks under umbrella of opposition party. Ugandan President Museveni 3 May called on factions of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – including ruling party, opposition in transitional govt and armed opposition – to unite and pursue South Sudanese-led solution to conflict, as alternative to revitalisation process. SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) faction in transitional govt led by First VP Taban Deng 7 May said it would reunify with ruling SPLM under 2015 Arusha Agreement, but other SPLM-IO faction loyal to former VP Riek Machar said it would only reunify with govt if it reinstates Machar. At meeting of SPLM’s National Liberation Council, first since civil war began in 2013, President Kiir said Machar could return to S Sudan and SPLM in “personal capacity”, but not govt official; Machar rejected proposal. Belligerents continued to clash, violating Dec 2017 cessation of hostilities; most significant fighting involving govt forces, fighters loyal to Machar and local militias took place in former Unity state in north. U.S. 8 May said transitional govt is no longer “inclusive”, that U.S. opposes any effort by transitional govt to unilaterally extend its mandate and announced review of its humanitarian assistance and support to monitoring bodies to ensure it does not contribute to conflict. UN Security Council 31 May agreed to extend some sanctions on govt until mid-July and, absent cessation of hostilities by 30 June, to consider freezing assets and banning travel for six govt officials, as proposed by U.S..
In late March, regional grouping Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) pledged to place sanctions on individuals violating Dec cessation of hostilities, but fighting continued in several areas; various groups including govt forces and main opposition group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) allegedly responsible. Former army Chief of Staff Paul Malong Awan 9 April announced creation of his new rebel group, South Sudan United Front, and sought entry to peace talks. IGAD postponed new round of peace talks, scheduled to restart 26 April to 17 May because parties remained uncompromising. Army chief Gen James Ajongo died 20 April; at his funeral 25 April, President Kiir said he regretted not killing group of political leaders he arrested in 2014 and former VP now rebel leader Riek Machar in 2016.
Regional grouping Intergovernmental Authority on Development 26 March scheduled next round of peace talks for 26 April, announced it would place targeted sanctions on ceasefire violators, referred ceasefire monitors’ findings to African Union, and said rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar could be released from house arrest in South Africa if he renounced violence, but that he would not be allowed back to Horn of Africa or any country neighbouring S Sudan. Following sexual exploitation scandal involving UN police, govt 9 March announced suspension of UN peacekeeping mission’s (UNMISS) Radio Miraya for allegedly violating media laws; disputed by UNMISS. Govt forces clashed with rebels at Kajokeji, Central Equatoria near Ugandan border 28 March and limited fighting reported in several places in former Upper Nile region. Govt and Egypt signed memorandum of understanding in Juba 12 March to increase cooperation and held consultations on S Sudan joining Arab League; Egypt reiterated its support for govt’s national dialogue and provided financial support.
At close of peace talks 5-16 Feb, regional bloc International Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and African Union threatened punitive actions against parties violating Dec cessation of hostilities; Troika (Norway, UK and U.S.) 19 Feb called on all parties to observe ceasefire. U.S. 2 Feb announced unilateral arms embargo on S Sudan. During talks IGAD proposed draft power-sharing agreement between current transitional govt and opposition forces that would create four deputy vice president positions, expand parliament and grant 51% representation in certain state institutions to transitional govt (including opposition currently in govt) and 49% to other opposition groups. Govt criticised proposal saying four deputy vice presidents was unworkable. After fighting near govt-held Nasir town in north east 12 Feb, opposition walked out of talks for one day. Rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar said clashes between its members and govt forces in Yei River state in south 26 Feb left rebel commander dead; govt said clashes between rival opposition groups.
Govt forces and rebels continued to violate 24 Dec Cessation of Hostilities (CoH); ceasefire monitors 15 Jan confirmed violations by govt and forces loyal to former VP Machar in Dec and Jan. U.S. Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley 24 Jan called govt “unfit partner” for peace and suggested arms embargo. UN Secretary-General 27 Jan questioned S Sudanese political elites’ commitment to peace, reaffirmed UN support for any punitive actions by regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and pointed out “contradictions” in regional and international approaches. IGAD 27 Jan confirmed its intent to ensure consequences for hindering CoH monitoring processes and for violating ceasefire. AU Chairperson Moussa Faki encouraged implementation of sanctions 28 Jan. President Kiir 7 Jan said former army chief Paul Malong was mobilising troops to fight govt, citing alleged recordings of Malong urging army officials to take up arms against govt; Malong denied authenticity of recordings.