By Ruot George
The current socio-economic and political crisis in South Sudan dates back to December 2013 when boiling political temperatures hit the iceberg.
More than 400,000 lives were lost and several millions displaced and live in camps to date.
Despite the myriad challenges, leaders across the divide had to put aside their personal and political differences to reunite the country. This followed heavy diplomatic pressure from the international community that vowed never to see the world’s youngest nation go on its knees.
Key plank in the contentious issues included the need to agree on security arrangements, a key component of a fragile 2018 signed peace agreement aimed at ending years of a devastating conflict.
However, as fate would have it, things have been slow, almost at a snail pace especially when it comes to implementation of the security arrangements as stipulated in the peace deal.
Three years down the line, soldiers from different factions are being screened for integration into a unified force/army.
The peace process has been characterised by claims and counter accusations from either sides over lack of commitment by the parties.
2021 unfulfilled promises.
According to the peace agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan 830,000 troops from the former warring forces were to be trained and unified to make the national army.
In February, Nhial Deng Nhial, the former minister of Presidential Affairs declared that the Presidency planned to speed up the process quickly.
By May 2021, the forces had not graduated and then Minister for Défense and Veteran Affairs, Angelina Teny told reporters in Juba that the graduation of the forces would start before the end of May 2021.
In June 2021, the Presidency made up of the President Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny, and the other four vices presidents in a meeting at the state House in Juba directed all the concerned security mechanisms in the country to speed up the graduation of forces. The lull continued.
In July 2021, Tut Gatluak, the Presidential Advisor on Security and Head of National Transitional Committee for the graduation of forces told reporters in Juba that graduation of first phase will begin after the eid al adha.
“We have directed all the relevant security committees – based on the directives of the President – to visit all the training centers, We can assure you that after the Eid Al Adha, we will start graduating all the forces in the training centers,” Tut Gatluak said boldly.
In September 2021, there was a change of statement. President Salva Kiir personally said the graduation of forces was delaying due to “lack of funds.”
But observers noted it was “lack of political will” given the millions of dollars the government offered the NTC.
The constitutional making process.
A bill on it was passed in May 2021 paving way for the permanent constitutional making process.
According to the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan – R-ARCSS, the permanent constitutional making process is one of the prerequisites for a credible election at the end of the three years transitional period.
Activist criticized the process saying people of South Sudan were being side-lined by politicians.
Still, it was passed by the Transitional Legislative Assembly in December 2021 in what activists says was not the right procedures.
Perennial flooding in most parts of the country further dampened the spirits of majority of rural populations.
Reeling fresh from the devastating effects of the conflict, more than 800,000 people were displaced by some of the worst flooding in the recent past.
Eight of the ten states were submerged in water. The worst hit was Unity State which also bore the brunt of the conflict.
More than 90 percent of the state was flooded forcing local communities to flee to higher and safer grounds. Some had surrendered their livestock to the floods.
Some of the affected families sheltered in churches, schools and other government administrative sites.
The floods severely impacted livelihoods and food production, destroying farmland, crops and livestock.
“The floodwaters remain standing and stagnant, with no sign of receding resulting in longer term displacement. In other areas, such as Jonglei and Upper Nile, water continues to rise as water overflowed or broke barriers,” the UN said.
“There has not been flooding on this scale in the region since 1962,” it said.
Many people were displaced in Magenis area of Upper Nile State over the issue as hostilities continue between the two factions.