South Sudan Peace Deal Brings New Hope

New peace deal in South Sudan greeted with optimism

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.  Source

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. Source

Current South Sudan President Salva Kiir met with former rebel leader and Vice President Riek Machar to sign a peace agreement late last year. The rivalry between the two had previously fueled the civil war in South Sudan, making it surprising to see the two smiling and shaking hands in the capital city of Juba.

The new agreement, named the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, follows years of multiple peace agreements that have ultimately failed. The agreement is met with both skepticism and hopefulness. Alongside Kiir and Machar, former detainees and other political party leaders have agreed to sign the document. Together with lasting peace, the agreement aims to implement free and fair elections that are open to all parties, and pave the way for economic integration between the North and South parts of former Sudan.


This comprehensive peace agreement focuses on five areas that will hopefully form a lasting peace agreement. These include a permanent ceasefire, rehabilitation to the oil industry and oil wells, security reform, improvement of infrastructure and the livelihood of citizens, and implementation of outside forces to oversee the ceasefire. Both major political leaders claim to be committed to the cause and respect the documents and what follows.

The first expected hurdle will be the permanent ceasefire. The previous treaty, the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, was violated by both sides within 24 hours. In response, the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement hopes to forge one national army under one national representation. Previously, there had been two armies, making them more likely to clash. In order to have a successful ceasefire, both African Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states are asked to deploy the necessary forces to make sure this ceasefire is everlasting.


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Following almost five years of war that displaced nearly a quarter million citizens and killed thousands, there is also hope that this deal will be the lasting peace South Sudan has been looking for. Machar said the agreement will end the suffering all too common in South Sudan, adding that “they will be happy soon.”

With the optimism that this agreement will bring the peace that South Sudan needs, Water for South Sudan will be able to reach out to previously unsafe communities. Furthermore, this pact aims at opening up the doors of Sudan to humanitarian aid in order to improve the lives of its citizens. Water for South Sudan will be able to get supplies needed and personnel to South Sudan in a more efficient manner, and ultimately reach out to more populations that need access to clean, safe water and hygiene education.


Views on the Peace Process and South Sudan's Way Forward

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) and South Sudan's rebel commander Riek Machar exchange documents after signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa,. REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) and South Sudan's rebel commander Riek Machar exchange documents after signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa,. REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI

WFSS joined the world in celebrating the independence of South Sudan on July 11, 2011, and also watched in dismay as conflict erupted in December of 2013. Since then the peace process has been a series of deals, cease-fires and broken agreements.

A recent editorial in the New York Times stresses that the only way for peace to last is for the US and United Nations to apply continued pressure on the South Sudanese. During President Obama's recent trip to East Africa he stressed the importance of holding South Sudan, and its neighbors, accountable in maintaining peace in South Sudan. Read the full editorial, A Peace Plea for South Sudan for more.

In another op-ed, appearing in The Daily Beast, Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast writes that the biggest obstacle to peace in South Sudan is the nature of the state itself. Prendergast notes that the only way that lasting peace will hold is to dismantle the violent kleptocracy that has become the norm. In its short life as a nation, governing institutions have been hijacked for personal enrichment and advancement by rival factions of military and civilian officials. Prendergast also notes the need for continued pressure from the US to root out corruption. He also urges a search for the assets that have been stolen so that they may be returned to the South Sudanese people. Read the full essay, Saving South Sudan from Kleptocracy.

Finally, James Copnall, a South Sudan analyst, talks about the obstacles facing the South Sudan peace process in South Sudan: Obstacles to a lasting peace. He notes five obstacles, including the leaders, Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the terms of the deal, the involvement of South Sudan's regional neighbors, possible lack of unity on both sides of the conflict, and, deepening ethnic animosity among a people who have hardly known anything but war.

Continued pressure and attention from regional neighbors, and the world community are clearly needed to move the peace process along. The world's newest nation is still learning how to walk, and requires the aid and assistance of those who helped bring it to birth, to help it grow into a sustainable country, able to support itself.  

Here at Water for South Sudan, we continue to monitor what's happening in South Sudan and share perspectives from a variety of sources both in that country and elsewhere. Our South Sudan team also helps to keep us informed. To date, the unrest in the country has not affected their ability to carry out operations.