SA continues to mediate in South Sudan

Cape Town � Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa continues to offer its assistance in the South Sudan conflict.

The Deputy President said this when he fielded oral questions at the National Assembly on Wednesday. He had been asked to provide an update on developments in the conflict-torn South Sudan, particularly on progress that has been made with the implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement in his capacity as an envoy to South Sudan.

The Deputy President was also asked to brief the House on steps that would be taken by the task team that has been established to address the reasons for the failure to reunify the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and subsequently the government of South Sudan.

South Africa will continue to pursue its involvement in South Sudan through its participation in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus Peace Process and the inter-party process led by the African National Congress and Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania, he said.

As South Africa's envoy to South Sudan, the Deputy President said he met with the First Vice President of South Sudan, Taban Deng Gai, on 13 September, where he was briefed on recent developments in the country, including the fighting that took place in July 2016, which resulted in the death of many soldiers and the subsequent flight of Dr Riek Machar, the former First Vice President.

The Deputy President said he was briefed on the process that led to Gai's appointment as the First Vice President, a position he holds pending the return of Dr Machar.

It was instructive to learn that the transitional government was working not only to implement the peace agreement, but also to implement the government programme. Security sector reform and the need for economic development are priorities.

The First Vice President furthermore conveyed the continued commitment of the Government of South Sudan to supporting the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission chaired by former President Festus Mogae, he said.

In August last year, Sudanese President Salva Kiir signed a peace deal with rebel forces to end a protracted civil war that has left over two million people displaced.

Following the signing of the peace deal, rebel leader Machar returned to office as the country's Vice President in April.

Reports of clashes between Machar's supporters and those of President Kiir in July left many people dead, and led to Machar vacating his office.

In spite of recent challenges, such as the clashes that took place on 8 July 2016 and the subsequent split in the SPLM-In Opposition, all factions of the SPLM still believe that the Arusha Agreement remains an important tool in the resolution of conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.

The members that were expelled from the SPLM after the outbreak of war on 15 December 2013 have been reinstated to their previous positions.

On 7 January 2016, the first Extra-Ordinary National Convention was held, in which all three of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) factions participated, the Deputy President said.

Source: South African Government News Agency