Catholic Bishops: Peace agreement keeps Kiir, Machar in power at expense of civilians

South Sudan Catholic Bishops have said on Friday  that “The R-ARCSS has not resolved the root causes of the conflicts in South Sudan but has merely created a mechanism where the elite can find a way of existing in an uneasy partnership at the expense of the ordinary people”

While reading out the joint statement on the Situation in Sudan and South Sudan on Friday at the conclusion of the 3-day Ecclesiastical Province Meeting held in Juba, the religious leaders said “Although the President said many times that he will not return the country to war,”

The subnational violence in many parts of the country are being fueled by the power struggle in the national seats in Juba. they argued that the violence cannot simply be dismissed as “local”, “communal” or “tribal” conflict but said “it relates to the power struggles currently going on within the “power sharing” national government in Juba,”

The 2018 peace agreement was signed by the parties to address the root causes of the 2013 conflict between president Salva Kiir and the opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar who is the current first vice president of South Sudan but the implementation of the deal has been dragging for years without a mega progress.

Fours years later after the signing of the deal, the unity government only implemented 27% of the provisions leaving them with no option but to extend the transitional period for 24 more months before they could ends the period with an elections in December 2024.

But the bishops said “It is a flawed process, and there will never be peace in South Sudan as long as the international community insists on this type of model,”

“The current power-sharing government needs to demonstrate political will to bring about a just and peaceful dispensation in the country. Indeed, given the degree of trauma of the major political actors, it’s unlikely that they have the capacity to do so even if they wanted to,” the joint statement partly reads.

While they calls on parties to fully implement the peace agreement, they questions the ability of the unity government that is being run on basis of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement to bring sustainable peace in South Sudan.

“We question whether the current model, which shares power between those elites who have taken up arms at the expense of the ordinary civilians, is a sustainable mechanism for development, peace and justice,”

The church leaders further calls on the international community and the peace deal guarantors to pay close attention to the cry of the South Sudanese and seek ways to address the national economic hardship, insecurity and basic services to the people.

“We call upon all parties, as well as regional and international mediators, to examine anew, the method which will truly benefit the people. We believe that only by listening to the voice of the ordinary people and addressing the root causes of the problems will our nation ever truly be at peace”