Following reports of horrific civilian abuses, the outside world put even greater pressure on the warring parties. At the end of August, both Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement that would result in a unified government and division of power at all levels. New elections were expected to be held in early 2018.
A Truth, Reconciliation and Healing Commission would investigate all human rights violations. An AU-backed special court would hear cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The government and the rebels had 30 days to withdraw their troops to the barracks, and Juba would become a demilitarized zone.
In fact, the parties’ mistrust of each other was abysmal. In particular, Kiir expressed doubts about the idea that Juba would be emptied of government troops and that peace would be monitored by Unmiss. Already the following month, information came in about new battles and refugee flows. Kiir was heavily criticized by the rebels as well as the United Nations, the United States and the European Union when he ordered that South Sudan be divided into 28 states instead of the 10 on which the agreement was based. The rebel side declared that the president’s decision meant a “death blow” to the peace agreement.
The coalition government takes office
The division of power within the future government was decided, but no date was set for the coalition government to take office. In February 2016, Kiir reinstated rival Machar as vice president, but Machar refused to take the position unless all government troops first left Juba in accordance with the peace agreement.
Out in the country, the fighting continued. In March, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused both sides of the conflict of serious human rights violations such as looting and rape. In particular, sexual violence was described as shocking. No one knew anymore how many people were killed in the war, the numbers varied between 50,000 and 300,000.
In April, Machar returned to Juba, where he was installed as vice president. This could happen after nearly 1,400 rebel soldiers under UN auspices had been flown to Juba to be responsible for Machar’s security. Shortly afterwards, the rest of the coalition government was installed.
Peace is broken
Just two months later, fierce fighting broke out in Juba between the government army and Machar’s rebels. Around 300 people, both civilians and combatants, were killed and tens of thousands of Jubans were forced to flee before Kiir and Machar ordered a ceasefire.
It was calm again in the capital after a few days, but the violence had spread to the country where peacekeepers reported regular fighting. Foreign governments began to evacuate their citizens and the UN appealed for the strengthening of Unmiss. In August, Kiir fired Vice President Machar, who fled abroad from where he declared war on South Sudan.
The same month, the UN decided to send a 4,000-strong regional peacekeeping force to South Sudan to bolster Unmiss, which has been sharply criticized for failing to protect the civilian population. Kiir reluctantly accepted the decision but initially opposed the deployment of a force. In May 2017, however, the first soldiers of the RPF (Regional Protection Force) arrived in Juba and in September, Kiir ordered the country’s police force to cooperate with it. In total, about 16,000 peacekeepers are in South Sudan.
The aftermath of the fighting is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with around a third of the population on the run and more than half of the population in need of help for their survival. There are many reports of rapes, expulsions and abductions committed by the parties to the war. The rebel side has split into several groups, and Machar no longer has control over the entire movement.
Sweden, Sudan and South Sudan
Sweden has bilateral relations with Sudan and is represented by the Swedish Embassy in Khartoum. The Ambassador is also accredited to South Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). A new performance strategy for development cooperation with Sudan was adopted by the government in December 2013 for the three-year period 2014-2016. The support amounts to SEK 120 million per year and will focus on conflict management in Darfur as well as support for HR and civil society. Sweden also has extensive humanitarian aid to Sudan. A number of Swedish companies trade with and invest in Sudan. Sweden’s Sudan policy is pursued primarily within the framework of the EU. The EU’s policy towards Sudan is communicated, among other things, by the EU’s Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, EUSR Rondos, who regularly visits the region and for dialogue with the government in Khartoum.
Sweden has a section office in Juba, South Sudan and Sweden’s ambassador in Khartoum is also accredited to South Sudan. In November 2013, the Government adopted a new strategy for development cooperation with South Sudan for the period 2014-2016 with a total volume of SEK 525 million. The support will primarily go to health care for women and children and to non-governmental organizations working to promote human rights and reconciliation. Sweden also has extensive humanitarian aid.
Sweden’s South Sudan policy is pursued primarily within the framework of the EU. The EU’s policy towards South Sudan is communicated, among other things, by the EU’s Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, EUSR Rondos, who regularly visits the region and engages in dialogue with it in Juba. Sweden contributes personnel to the UN peacebuilding effort UNMISS.