Competing efforts to end South Sudan's war prolong conflict: U.N. panel
Competing efforts to end South Sudan’s civil war allow the government to exploit divisions among international brokers and are unlikely to halt the fighting, a confidential U.N. report said.
South Sudan became the world’s newest nation when it gained independence from Sudan in 2011. War broke out in late 2013 and has forced more than a quarter of its 12 million population have fled their homes.
“The hostilities in South Sudan continue against a complex backdrop of competing regional and bilateral initiatives to resolve the conflict,” U.N. sanctions monitors said in a report to the Security Council seen by Reuters on Friday.
“These efforts suffer from several defects, including inadequate oversight, lack of enforcement and the absence of an integrated, coherent plan for peace.”
Among the international bodies involved in trying to bring the warring parties to the table are regional bloc IGAD, the U.N. Security Council, a troika of South Sudan’s main Western backers prior to independence, and an African Union panel.
The efforts of these groups are affected by “conflicting interests compounded by underlying rivalries in the region”, the panel wrote, in what could refer to the role of leaders such as Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, who deployed troops in 2013 to support the Juba government and opposes an arms embargo.
“The government of South Sudan has sought to exploit this division” among the competing efforts, the panel said.
“Absent a significant shift toward a more coherent and unified approach” from East African nations, coupled with “broader international support for a single and inclusive political process, current efforts are unlikely to ... halt the violence in South Sudan,” it said.
Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters in Juba: “There is nothing new in this report.”
The leaked report is by a panel mandated to document arms flows and security threats.
The proliferation of diplomatic efforts has created an opportunity for parties to “forum shop”, the panel wrote, saying this bought the armed groups time to organize military operations and avoid attempts to enforce a settlement.
It noted the military was still able to procure weapons while opposition forces’ access to arms “remains limited”.
The main opposition figure, Riek Machar, is under house arrest in South Africa and has declined to renounce violence. Kiir continues to buy weapons and government forces continue to attack civilians, the report said.
East African leaders said in June they want the warring sides to recommit to the deal they abandoned more than a year ago. In July, Western donors said the process was no longer viable and froze support for it.
There has been no comment in recent months from IGAD or the African Union about a timeline for resumption of peace talks.
This week the United States imposed sanctions on two senior South Sudanese officials and the former army chief. The Security Council last December vetoed the imposition of an arms embargo recommended by the monitors.