For much of its brief existence, South Sudan has been has been mired in a civil war, a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and forced some 4 million to flee their homes, creating Africa's worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A 2015 peace agreement and a transitional government formed in early 2016 failed to end the violence.
In late May of this year, President Salva Kiir declared a unilateral, government cease-fire and promised a release of political prisoners. But no prisoners have been released, and despite the cease-fire, heavy fighting has been reported in parts of the country, according to the UN. This is particularly true of the opposition stronghold near the town of Pagak in Upper Nile state.
On July 24, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, an eight-country regional development organization in East Africa that has been trying to mediate the situation in South Sudan, announced that it will convene a forum to revitalize implementation of the 2015 peace agreement.
In late July, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States, known as the Troika in the context of the South Sudan peace effort, as well as the European Union, issued a statement condemning the continuing violence in South Sudan.
“The Pagak offensive is a clear violation of the unilateral ceasefire declared by President Salva Kiir…and calls into question the government’s commitment to reach peace through the National Dialogue.”
The statement welcomed the IGAD decision to revitalize the South Sudan peace process.
“The proliferation of violence, displacement, and food insecurity renders any discussion of elections in the foreseeable future as an unnecessary diversion from the primary goals of achieving peace and reconciliation,” said the Troika statement.
“South Sudan’s leaders, neighbors, and regional and international partners must first focus on achieving peace in order to create the conditions needed to hold credible elections. To achieve these urgent goals, we look forward to the prompt revitalization of an inclusive and credible peace process by IGAD; such progress would be required in order for the Troika and EU to commit further resources to institutions designed to implement the agreement.”