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S. Sudan Sees Renewed Fighting After Peace Deal Signed

Unity and Central Equatoria states, South Sudan

Just days after the signing of South Sudan's revitalized peace agreement, reports of fighting have surfaced in several parts of South Sudan, according to Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations' undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations.

"Reports indicate that these hostilities are in response to alleged government attempts to install local authorities in opposition-controlled areas. Both sides appear to have mobilized reinforcements to support these operations to secure territory," Lacroix told U.N. Security Council members Tuesday at a briefing in New York.

He said the fighting is taking place in the states of Central Equatoria and Unity, and that heavy clashes have occurred in Jamula Center in Mbudu in Kopera County.

The ambassador said hostilities also were reported last Thursday in Kendiri and Mangalatore in Kajo Keji. There were still more battles in the country involving forces loyal to Taban Deng Gai, who was sworn in as first vice president by President Salva Kiir after inaugural vice president Riek Machar fled the country.

FILE - United Nations Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix speaks to reporters at United Nations headquarters, April 25, 2018.
FILE - United Nations Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix speaks to reporters at United Nations headquarters, April 25, 2018.

"On September 15, small-scale clashes were also reported around Nying in Guit County in Unity between SPLA In Opposition forces and Taban Deng Gai aligned forces. These incidents are reportedly associated with a push by Taban Deng to consolidate influence in his stronghold of Guit County. We remain concerned about the potential for further clashes where government and opposition forces are in close proximity, particularly in parts of central and western Equatoria, Unity and Western Bhar Al Ghazal," Lacroix said.

Nicholas Haysom, U.N. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, told the Security Council on Tuesday that ongoing fighting is a real concern for regional leaders trying to bring peace to South Sudan.

"No agreement can last in the face of continuing violations for which there is no penalty or other consequence. This risks a response by the South Sudanese as to what is different in this agreement from the previous failed agreements," Haysom said.

The U.N. special envoy noted unfinished business involving the peace process, including inclusivity, enforceability, financial transparency and a lack of trust among those who signed the revitalized peace deal last week.

"There are still a few but potentially significant parties that continue to express reservations on the text. In addition, there are some substantive governance issues that the text contemplates will be resolved in due course. One relates to the number of subnational states, and this issue concerns the very geography of tribal authority and control," Haysom noted.

He said there is little enthusiasm in the international community to fund ongoing efforts unless the country's leaders show a genuine commitment to "make their guns fall silent."

Hanson told council members that donors "have showed no or little appetite to fund this process unless there is a clear provision to ensure transparency and propriety in financial transactions, including accountability for past misappropriations of public funds."

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions of South Sudanese have been displaced by the nearly five-year conflict in South Sudan.