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Unity gov’t must address 4 major problems to function well – Shearer

Author: Ayuen Panchol | Published: Thursday, March 5, 2020

An aggrieved mother and her child in South Sudan | Credit | Amnesty International

South Sudan needs to address four issues for the cornerstones of a properly functioning state, the head of the UN mission in the country has told the United Nations Security Council.

In late February, President Salva Kiir appointed his five deputies – Dr. Riek Machar, Rebecca Nyandeng, James Wani Igga, Taban Deng and Hussein Abdelbagi.

This is in line with the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement, which calls for formation of an inclusive government of national unity.

The men and a woman are now expected to fully form the government, especially the cabinet and legislature.

Ravaged by political violence that erupted just two years after gaining independence in July 2011, the leaders are faced what a US diplomat described as the hardest work recently.

One of the major problems that David Shearer believes is a threat to the functioning of the state is impunity.

Several media and human rights groups reports suggest that perpetrators of serious human rights abuse are barely punish.

“South Sudanese authorities have allowed impunity to flourish over serious human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since brutal conflict broke out in December 2013,” wrote Amnesty International in October 2019.

David Shearer argues that “perpetrators should be brought to justice”.

“This will require increased support to police and the justice chain from the collection of evidence right through to the prosecution and court trials,” Shearer told UNSC briefing on Wednesday.

There has also been reports of grand corruption since the inception of the then regional government in 2005.

Billions of dollars from oil sales are said to have been pocketed by senior government officials, including President Salva Kiir, according to The Sentry report.

This is encourage by lack of financial transparency and accountability, and weakness of the concerned government institutions such as anti-corruption commission and judiciary.

“This requires financial accountability and transparency. Government mechanisms exist but are often bypassed,” the UN diplomat said.

“For example, if government workers and security services receive their salaries regularly every month, they will focus on their jobs, not on other activities to support their families.”

The five-year conflict, reports show, has uprooted millions of people from their homes – with some sheltering at UN camps and others living as refugees in the neighboring countries, mostly Kenya, the Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Uganda.

UN agencies such as FAO, Unicef and WFP say this has led to low food production, making over 6 million others prone to severe hunger by April 2020.

As a result, UN and humanitarian groups have been feeding families, particularly in conflict-affected areas, including Jonglei, Western Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Central Equatoria.

Shearer stated that: “It requires a determined shift by both the government and international community to support programs that promote self-reliance where it is appropriate. Yes, there are areas where humanitarian assistance is urgently required. But interventions should be progressively more surgical and vigorously monitored.”

The New Zealander also expressed concern about “exclusion” whereby the ruling class does not want to hear about dissenting voices.

Security organs have been threatening activists, arbitrarily detaining journalists, shutting media houses and pulling out articles critical of the government.

As a result, some journalists have either quit the profession or went to exile to avoid persecution.

Shearer said this has to change for a better South Sudan:

“This requires that all South Sudanese are part of the democratic process: a greater role for civil society, a political space where it’s okay to speak out and to criticize. These are foundation that underpin the constitution and election processes that are upcoming.”

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