NAIROBI, Kenya–Abraham Awolich, a policy analyst at the Juba-based Sudd Institute, said recent resumption of oil production in northern oil fields will help achieve peace implementation without entirely depending on outside support.
The South Sudanese expert on Thursday urged the government to take the lead in financing the recently signed revitalized peace agreement before appealing for international for support.
“South Sudan obviously is broke; we don’t have money, but if we can finance war, we can finance peace. That’s the bottom line,” he told a policy discussion session in Juba. “Wherever we used to get the money to buy bullets, let’s get the same money to implement the peace agreement, even if it means we borrow. Let’s borrow.”
Awolich said the warring parties are committed to peace implementation this time around following the collapse of previous agreements that have left the international community wary of funding the peace deal.
“They have demonstrated this in a number of ways, but there are challenges obviously, one of which is funding,” he added.
The Transitional Unity Government, led by President Salva Kiir, and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition under Riek Machar have formed the various key mechanisms implementing peace in the capital. Both groups are yet to unify the national army and undertake the crucial demarcation of boundaries to determine the number of states, due to lack of funds.
“Fortunately, we now have opened up more oil wells and the price of oil is not as bad in international market,” Awolich said. “We just have to give peace priority.”
“We need to put all our money on it and if we run short (of funds), we can always ask our friends to put in more, especially if they see that we are committed,” Awolich said.
“The excuse that we don’t have the money and therefore we cannot have peace is not acceptable to me. I don’t think it’s acceptable to any citizen in this country,” he said.
South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.
A peace agreement signed in 2015 to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital, Juba, forcing Machar to flee into exile.
The United Nations estimates that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.
President Salva Kiir, his former deputy Machar and several opposition groups in September signed the new power-sharing deal aimed at ending the five-year-old conflict.