New UN boss ‘very interested’ in reviving political process for S Sudan: diplomat

The new United Nations secretary-general is reportedly “very interested” in proposals to revive the political process for South Sudan, which regional powers have been reluctant to do since fighting in July that some say spelled the end of the August 2015 peace deal.

Speaking in New York on Thursday, Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations, endorsed the idea of a revived “political process” in South Sudan, mentioning a role for the African Union in this initiative, without elaborating on the modalities.

He went on to claim that the new UN chief is also supportive of this step.

“We should also revive the political process in South Sudan, and I think that the new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is very interested in that. Not necessarily the UN doing the whole thing, but working with the African Union and with IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and other regional players, the neighbours for instance,” said Ambassador Rycroft.

Regional and international powers have been ambivalent about starting any new political process, claiming instead that the mechanisms of the August 2015 peace deal are still alive and should continue to be used by all parties concerned.

But a number of armed groups and political movements reject the continued use of the August deal as a basis for political process, saying it has fallen apart and was violated by the government. Lam Akol’s National Democratic Movement, Riek Machar’s SPLM-IO – a principal signatory of the deal – and Joseph Bakosoro’s newly launched South Sudan National Movement for Change are among those saying that the current peace deal has failed to bring peace.

A member of the African Union Commission of Inquiry, Mahmood Mamdani, has been campaigning for a greater role for the AU in the political process and advocating for exclusion of top leaders of the warring parties from a new political dispensation.

Writing in the January 8th edition of The New York Times, Mamdani called for “African Union trusteeship” involving a three-person High Level Oversight Panel of Africans who in turn would oversee the appointment of a three-person South Sudanese transitional executive drawn from the Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal regions.