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S. Sudan’s peace process “precarious”, but progressing: UN envoy

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September 19, 2019 (JUBA) - The peace process in South Sudan remains “precarious”, but progress is being made, David Shearer, the head of the United Nations Mission in the country (UNMISS), said.

David Shearer (UN photo)

Briefing the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Shearer said maintaining momentum will depend on the continuing goodwill of all parties as well as the collective and unrelenting focus of its international friends to support formation of a transitional government.

“The formation of the Transitional Government provides an opportunity to lift our gaze from immediate challenges and look over the horizon towards elections, expected at the end of three years of Transition. Elections give the opportunity to resolve differences through democratic rather than violent means,” said the UN envoy.

“And to make a fundamental shift from deals done between elites to a duty to deliver policies by a government elected by the people”, he added.

Shearer, also Special Representative of the Secretary General in South Sudan, said the recent visit of Riek Machar to Juba on President Salva Kiir was a critical step for the 2018 peace agreement.

He said there were positive aspects of the peace deal implementation, citing the ceasefire which largely continues to hold. “Political violence and subsequent displacement have decreased markedly,” stressed Shearer.

According to the senior UN official, opposition members have continued to work in Juba alongside their government counterparts on implementing key elements of the revitalized peace agreement.

He said the more than 130 rapprochements held across the country demonstrate confidence and commitment at the grassroots level.

Meanwhile, Shearer said the UN is also providing technical assistance to reform and rebuild the justice system, not just to tackle criminal acts, but more pervasive impunity in the world’s youngest nation.

As part of the process, he stressed, mobile courts staffed by South Sudanese judiciary, have expanded beyond Bentiu and Malakal.

“In the next few weeks they will try hundreds of serious cases, including sexual and gender-based violence,” he noted.

South Sudan descended into war in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup.

In September 2018, the rival factions involved in the conflict signed a peace deal to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over 2 million people in the country.

(ST)

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