It has been a joyful day in South Sudan’s capital, Juba and beyond, as two arch-rivals President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President Riek Machar signed a new peace deal to end a barbaric five-year civil war. The latest power struggle between the President and his former deputy has devastated the country, killed thousands of innocent citizens and displaced millions of South Sudanese.
It is, therefore, no coincidence that the new peace deal has given hope to many South Sudanese, who seem to have had enough of miseries from the conflict. The announcement of the peace deal created euphoria amongst the citizens, who virtually shut down business activities in Juba, the capital. According to the latest power-sharing agreement aimed at ending a brutal five-year civil war, Riek Machar will return to his former function as the Vice -President. Apart from Mr. Machar, the new deal will create a position for another four Vice-Presidents.
Two years after South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, the newly independent country has never seen peace. Power struggle based on ethnic jingoism led to a senseless war which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions of others. Previous agreements were signed by both parties, sadly the peace deals were broken with both parties blaming each other for the failure of the peace deal. Many South Sudanese have shown optimism that the present agreement will hold. Although the latest peace agreement is not too different from the previously signed 2015 agreement, some believe that the warring parties, who seem to have run shortage of arms and money, are desperate to hang on to power; as such, they will show some more commitment to the implementation of the present peace deal, many believe.
Clearly, most people in South Sudan are more or less tired of the endemic conflict, and likely would like to have a normal life. It does not hurt that the government has officially declared Monday a public holiday to celebrate the newly signed peace accord.
With the tolerance, endurance, and optimism shown by many South Sudanese since the country’s independence and brutal civil war thereafter, the government of South Sudan should never take the optimism of the citizens for granted. Like Mr. Machar warned the mediators after the signing of the deal, “the devil lies always in the implementation.”
It is now left in the hands of the warring parties to either implement the peace deal and reap the fruit of peace in the land blessed with enormous natural resources or go back to the senseless and brutal war. Either way, the world is watching and the future of the South Sudanese is in the hands of their leaders.
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