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  •  South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit arrives for the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa as South African's president,South Africa May 25, 2019.

    South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit arrives for the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa as South African's president,South Africa May 25, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 June 2019

The agreement signed last year between President Salva Kiir, and his former deputy, Riek Machar, needs to be respected in order for fledgling peace to remain.

The United Nations mission in South Sudan says politicians there must stick to the agreement signed last year between warring factions in order for the newer nation to reach lasting peace.

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Head of the United Nations in South Sudan (Unmiss), David Shearer is asking political leaders there to stick to the agreements made in 2018 in order to preserve peace in the nation that has been in near-constant conflict since 2013.

Last September, a revitalized peace agreement was signed between President Salva Kiir, and his former deputy, Riek Machar, which has largely stayed in tact, allowing thousands of political refugees from South Sudan to return home, credits Shearer.

“The drop in political violence…has meant hundreds, if not thousands of people are alive, who otherwise would not be,” said Shearer to a U.N. council Tuesday in New York.

According to the U.N. after the September deal was signed more than half a million people returned home, including some 210,000 refugees from neighboring countries.

Shearer says these “positive signs” come at the grassroots level and is urging regional factions and national “elites” to follow suit, whom he says are moving at a much slower pace than citizens to fully carry out the newest peace deal. 

“These positive signs come … at the grassroots level (that) is moving much faster than amongst the elites negotiating nationally.” 

Shearer told the U.N., "let's be honest, the fighting has stopped because the leaders ordered their soldiers to cease and if they resume, against the will of the people, it will be because those same leaders want it and order it to happen," he warned, adding, "if at the local level, formerly bitter enemies can leave the past behind and reconcile, their national leaders should do the same."

The high-ranking U.N. representative urged South Sudanese politicians “to listen to the mood of the people and follow the lead set by these local communities.”

A U.N. survey of South Sudanese residents found that despite 79 percent of their immediate family had been killed in the civil war, 89 percent still believe “there will be lasting peace by the end of the year,” concluded Shearer in New York.

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