By Okech Francis
South Sudan remains holed up in crisis despite a peace deal being implemented, the International Crisis Group said, urging drastic changes to the management of affairs in the new nation to avert more mayhem.
The peace deal reached in September 2018 plucked Riek Machar from rebellion, placing him in the second most prestigious position, deputizing President Salva Kiir in a three year transitional arrangement that will lead the country to democratic elections.
The oil rich nation’s crisis stems from a fallout between Kiir and Machar in 2013, then President and Deputy, leading to an all-out war, raging for six years leaving 400,000 people dead and displacing four million others.
The war also drastically reduced crude production, the country’s main source of revenue and led to economic crisis.
The Brussels-based crisis watchdog warned the country’s politics are consumed by a struggle for the presidency and that the president can fire state governors at will and in practice has near-complete control over the country’s finances.
“At the core of South Sudan’s rot is a centralized, winner-take-all political system,” the group said in an emailed statement.
“The South Sudanese are exasperated with their leaders’ self-dealing and bickering,” it said.
“Even the country’s polarized political class has finally acknowledged that the status quo is not working.”
It faulted South Sudan’s elite and their “outside partners” for failing to address the country’s “flimsy political foundations” at independence, noting that the job of state building was instead left to “a small army of aid agencies and a massive UN peacekeeping mission.”
Oil revenue continues to disappear among the elites and public finance has become a mirage in South Sudan, according to the group.
The oil industry “is notoriously opaque, and even many top government officials do not know how much money the treasury holds or how it is spent,” it said noting that public officials and soldiers go months without pay while “the country’s funds instead prop up a core security state and off-the-books patronage, which many South Sudanese now believe has simply turned into looting.”