Four years ago this month, South Sudanese leaders signed a peace agreement that was supposed to end the country’s devastating civil war. Today, thousands are again fleeing their homes as disagreements between military-political elites spark renewed violence. The latest clashes stem from internal tensions between factions of the SPLA-IO, the country’s main opposition movement which is also a member of the transitional government. The conflict pits forces aligned to Simon Gatwech (a member of the Lou Nuer community) against fighters led by Johnson Olony (a prominent leader in the Shilluk community). Last week, Nuer fighters attacked a group of Shilluk at a displacement camp on Adidiang Island, near Malakal in Upper Nile state, causing hundreds of injuries and reported drownings. Tensions between Shilluk and Nuer also surfaced at the nearby Malakal Protection of Civilians site—which is guarded by UN peacekeepers. Elite power struggles have consistently undermined South Sudan’s transition, which was recently extended by two years due to the slow implementation of the peace deal. Experts say the agreement may actually be doing more harm than good, though diplomats still consider it the only game in town.
From The New Humanitarian, Sept. 16.
See our last report on the South Sudan peace process.