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S. Sudan group welcomes special peace envoy’s appointment

October 19, 2018 (JUBA) - A South Sudanese civil society has welcomed the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s decision to appoint Jamal El-Shiekh as special envoy for peace in South Sudan.

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South Sudanese civil society activist Edmund Yakani (The Niles/File)

In a statement, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said the appointment of El-Shiekh as special peace envoy will enable follow up on the implementation of the peace agreement.

CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani said Al-Bashir appointment of ambassador El-Shiekh was a “remarkable” decision.

“He [El-Sheikh] is the right person in the right position in the right time, but with hard task to deliver in a hard moment,” Yakani said Thursday.

He added, “Sudan has to take influential obligation in ensuring that R-ARCSS [Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan] implementation is done in genuine manner since it is already fragile with political splits among the opposition and deficit in trust and confidence among the signatories”.

The Sudanese diplomat is said to have played a key role in mediating between South Sudan government and its armed opposition groups.

South Sudan became an independent country on 9 July 2011 after decades of war, lengthy negotiations and a referendum to secede from neighbouring Sudan. Two and a half years later, armed conflict broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied to the country’s former vice president, Riek Machar.

However, in August 2015, the two main parties in the conflict agreed a peace deal and later formed a transitional unity government with President Kiir at the helm and Machar as one of his two deputies.

Renewed again fighting broke out in July 2016 with heavy clashes in the capital Juba and other parts of the nation forcing Machar to flee.

On September 12, the South Sudanese rebel leader signed in Khartoum a peace agreement with the government to end a civil war, which killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

“It is a time for Ambassador El-Shiekh to demonstrate Sudan’s government appetite for ensuring peace and stability prevail in Sudan. Statements heard by massive South Sudanese from President Al-Bashir on standing for peace and stability in South Sudan since the independence of South Sudan has come for test,” said Yakani.

“Peaceful and stable South Sudan is of great benefit to Sudan. The opposite is real,” he further stressed.

Meanwhile, CEPO, among other recommendations urged the Sudanese special peace envoy to establish an office in Juba for regular follows up of the R-ARCSS implementation and that the office should immediately join hands with that of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) special envoy to South Sudan for collaborative efforts for genuine implementation of the peace deal.

The Sudanese diplomat, CEPO said, should ensure that any institution and mechanism agreed upon in R-ARCSS for its implementation is free from any form of political interference or obstruction by any party signatory to R-ARCSS and that he should encourage facilitation of dialogue between the international actors and the R-ARCSS signatory parties for the sake of building consensus on the peace accord.