Ministers call for an international commitment to peace and development in South Sudan

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Only three years after independence, the world’s youngest country was still celebrating its newly acquired freedom before it was plunged into violent conflict. On December 15, 2013, South Sudanese woke up to the same gunfire and conflict that they had fought so tirelessly to end.

With thousands killed and more than 3 million displaced, the warring parties are yet to arrive at a lasting peace agreement. Both the government of Salva Kiir and the rebel group led by former Vice-President Riek Machar have been accused of failing to uphold any of the ceasefire agreements signed. The conflict, which seems to have taken the South Sudanese by surprise, is believed by many to have been inevitable.

“We were aware that we had inherited a fragile state and from the beginning we described ourselves as such. We joined the g7+, which is comprised of fragile states in the hope that we would get all the necessary assistance to get our country on the path to creating a strong democratic state,” said Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, Minister of Finance, Commerce and Economic Planning, South Sudan.

Issues such as the failure to demilitarize civilians that had been apparent from the start were later to culminate in what has been described as an ethnic-based conflict. “During the war for independence everyone took up arms and it was important that they do so at that time. However, it became difficult to convince people to part with their arms and our DDR policies produced no significant results,” explained Sabuni. In addition, programs to foster reconciliation and ensure access to justice were not pursued in an effective manner.

Speaking in a session titled “Roundtable for South Sudan” on Tuesday, May 20, on the sidelines of the African Development Bank 2014 Annual Meetings in Kigali, Sabuni called for both humanitarian and developmental assistance, particularly in the area of agriculture to assist South Sudan in recovering from the five months of conflict. In line with this, Badr-Eddin Mahmoud, Minister of Finance and National Economy for Sudan, called on the international community to intervene in a meaningful manner to end the conflict, which he said has transcended the borders of South Sudan and is affecting the whole region.

“The story of South Sudan is long and all of you have collaborated with us. We ask that you do not give up on us, but continue to walk with us. Our government has the political will to restore peace in our country and we need all the help we can get,” said Rebecca Joshua Okwachi, the country’s Minister of Telecommunication and Postal Services.