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Communal violence threatens South Sudan peace: Machar

Infighting continues between factions in the SPLM-IO group led by South Sudan FVP Riek Machar

By Simon Deng

South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar has warned of the serious threat posed by the ongoing intermittent communal violence to the fragile 2018 revitalized peace agreement if civilian disarmament is not undertaken.

Machar revealed that the violence caused by the proliferation of illegal arms unabated in the hands of civilians could disrupt the prevailing nascent peace in the country after years of conflict since December 2013.

“Our country is not yet at peace, political violence has stopped in 90 percent of the country but the threat on peace now is civilian violence brought about by the rampant ownership of guns by our population,” Machar said during the opening of a peace retreat at Juba Grand Hotel on Tuesday.

He disclosed that a typical household in South Sudan could be having not less than 5 rifles blaming it on break down of law and order as various communities feel vulnerable.

“The question is why each household have on average 5 rifles? It is because of their concern for their own protection they want to protect their lives, they want to protect their properties and their communities which is a sign of breakdown of law and order,” he disclosed.

The five-day peace retreat is organized under the theme “towards inclusive peace building strategy in South Sudan”.

Stephen Par Kuol, Minister for Peace Building said that achieving peace in the country should be a collective responsibility, noting that harmony in the transitional unity government is critical.

“Peace cannot be built by one institution it is a collective work that we must do together, and if we fail to build peace and implement peace in this country we will all suffer from legitimacy crisis because what legitimizes all of us as parties is the peace agreement,” said Kuol.

Kuol emphasized the need for harmony within the transitional unity government formed in February last year, in order to conclude implementation of the remaining critical tasks under the 2018 peace deal.

 “Harmony within our government is very important because we cannot build peace without harmony. We cannot work as parties in the government, government must be one and there must be team work,” he said.

Chuol Rambang, Chairperson for National Peace Commission said that peace building will only be achieved when law and order is restored across the country.

“Peace building will only be achieved after we manage to restore law and order, without law and order we have a long way to go,” said Rambang.

South Sudan parties despite establishing critical institutions like parliament, Council of States are yet to complete the training and graduation of the 83,000 unified forces to take charge of security during the transitional period.

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