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UK Envoy Calls for Transparency in S. Sudan

FILE - South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar are seen after peace talks in Khartoum, Sudan, June 27, 2018.

Chris Trott, the U.K. special representative for Sudan and South Sudan, says the parties involved in the conflict in South Sudan have a chance to show their commitment to peace by implementing the revitalized agreement signed a week ago.

In an interview Friday with VOA's South Sudan in Focus, the British diplomat said his government hoped all parties would live up to their commitments.

"There have been ample opportunities for the parties to adhere to the cessation of hostilities agreement [signed in December 2017] and we have continually called on the parties stop the fighting, to allow humanitarian access, to give the space to civil society and to the media,'' he said.

The U.S., Britain and Norway released a joint statement last week expressing concerns about the latest South Sudan peace deal.

Support for implementation

The special envoy said South Sudan civil society and other parties to the agreement needed the support of the international community to implement the revitalized peace deal.

Trott said he was in Washington to try to drum up support for the agreement. "I am here with my Norwegian counterpart and we are talking about how the international community can work together to ensure that this time the agreement is implemented," he said.

Collapsed deal

A previous peace deal signed in 2015 fell apart after deadly clashes broke out between government forces and rebels in July 2016.

Riek Machar, leader of the main rebel group, the SPLM-IO, and other insurgent factions signed the new agreement this month with the Juba government after assurances that a power-sharing accord would be honored. The deal, mediated by Sudan, reinstates Machar to his former role as vice president.

Trott said the latest agreement would succeed if the focus was on good governance.

"The way that we make this agreement sustainable is by ensuring that there is transparency around the way the Transitional [Government of National Unity] operates [and] transparency around the spending of the revenue of the government of South Sudan, which needs to be in support of the ordinary people of South Sudan," he said.

FILE - South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei speaks to reporters in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Jan. 5, 2014.
FILE - South Sudan's Information Minister Michael Makuei speaks to reporters in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Jan. 5, 2014.

Government needs money

South Sudan Minister of Information Michael Makuei told VOA that his government was committed to implementing the revitalized peace deal and urged the international community to provide financial support.

"If they want the agreement implemented, they are supposed to join us in the implementation so that we all work together," Makuei said, adding that "implementation means money. It means funding."

The United Nations estimates that South Sudan's civil war, which started in December 2013, has killed at least 50,000 people, displaced 2 million and hindered the country's progress since it gained independence seven years ago.

Targeted sanctions

The special envoy said his government was interested in seeing an end to violence and unhindered access to humanitarian agencies operating in South Sudan. He said that if the parties failed to honor their commitments as stipulated in the peace agreement, sanctions would remain an option.

"Yes, we will continue to look at the issue of the sanctions," Trott said. "Yes, we will continue to say to the region that if you really want this peace agreement to stick, you need to demonstrate. Our concern has been, all the way through the negotiations process, the sincerity with which the parties are addressing the conflict.''

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the South Sudan In Focus radio program.