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South Sudan can resolve outstanding issues with rebels

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said Friday that it is capable of finding solution from within to the key outstanding issues with rebels rather than outside the country following approval by the main rebel group to sign the final peace deal in the Sudanese capital.

Mawien Makol, the foreign ministry spokesman, said outstanding issues can better be solved from within when the rebels return to Juba than at the forthcoming forum of the East African bloc IGAD that has been mediating the peace deal.

“There are issues in the agreement that can be discussed here. The outstanding issues cannot be discussed outside the country,” Makol told Xinhua in Juba.

He added that they are relieved by the decision of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) leader Riek Machar to initial the final peace agreement in Khartoum after he had refused to sign on Tuesday.

The outstanding issues that include revision of the current 32 states and the writing of new constitution are expected to be concluded at the next meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers, according to mediators.

“We are finally happy that he (Machar) has approved the peace agreement. We agreed that some issues be discussed from within and should not be taken outside South Sudan,” Makol disclosed.

Meanwhile, Edmund Yakani, the head of  local civil society CEPO that monitors the peace agreement welcomed the SPLM/A-IO’s approval of the peace agreement, saying it will help build lost trust between the  government and rebels who have been fighting for over four years since December 2013.

“CEPO appreciates the efforts of Sudan mediation for making progress in making the conflicting parties resolve the outstanding issues of governance and security including making the parties initial the revitalized peace agreement,” he said.



South Sudan optimistic peace will bring development aid for reconstruction

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said Friday that it expects badly needed development aid from international community to kick start reconstruction from conflict after warring parties recently concluded the final peace agreement in the Sudanese capital.

Wani Buyu, the undersecretary for planning in the ministry of finance, told journalists that they are currently undertaking key institutional reforms especially in the revenue sector to win back the confidence of investors and development partners who abandoned the country following outbreak of conflict in 2013.

“We expect the development partners to come in, some of them have actually lost confidence in South Sudan because of the war but with the coming of peace I am sure they will have trust in us,” Buyu said in Juba.

He disclosed that China and Japan are undertaking key development projects and provision of essential services in the country.

The South Sudanese government recently approved 600 million U.S. dollar 2018/19 budget that will be largely funded by local revenue since development partners were not forthcoming, and payment of salaries of civil servants takes the lion’s share of the budget leaving little for capital development.

Buyu said transparency and accountability are crucial for South Sudan to benefit from its massive available resources.

He said the establishment of the national revenue authority and ongoing training of tax officials will help them in their bid to widen the tax base as non-oil revenue has since risen ahead of the previously much depended-upon oil revenue.

“There is a great improvement in non-oil revenue collection because right from Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) until 2011 we were entirely depending on oil revenue but when we shut down oil production in 2012 we realized we have enough resources we can collect from our borders,” he said.

The CPA, agreed in 2005 between Sudan and South Sudan, paved way for the independence of the latter from Sudan in 2011, but it came with challenges stemming from weak institutions and corruption.

Meanwhile, Frederick Mugisha, the head of strategy and analysis unit at the UN Development Program (UNDP), said South Sudan needs to diversify its economy away from oil and strengthen the non-oil tax base.

“For a long time South Sudan has focused much on the oil revenue. It is now an opportunity that we are trying to push for the non-oil revenue and revenue authority is an important component for mobilizing of non-oil revenue,” he said.

Mugisha also cautioned that South Sudan is a project still in the works and needs time to emerge from conflict and embark on development path.

“If we have not been having non-oil revenue for a long time it will take a while for people to appreciate the value of paying tax and for systems to work to the maximum,” he said.


More South Sudan rebels rejoin government amid wave of defections

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- A top South Sudanese rebel commander and his forces on Friday rejoined the government of President Salva Kiir amid a wave of opposition fragmentation since an amnesty was granted to armed groups in the country’s civil war early this month.

Gathuoth Mut, who was until recently the spokesperson of the rebel group, the South Sudan United Movement/Army led by Peter Gadet, arrived in the South Sudanese capital Juba on Friday with more than 20 soldiers.

He said at least 5,000 of his forces have assembled in the northern part of the country awaiting transportation to the capital, a claim not independently verified.

Mut said he responded to the amnesty in order to end the ongoing civil war in the East African nation.

“We welcome the initiative made by the president of South Sudan to open the road for everybody outside South Sudan and I urge those who are still outside to come home. Peace is more important now because our country is already devastated,” the rebel official told reporters upon arrival.

South Sudanese leader Kiir in early August pardoned his rival and former deputy Riek Machar and other estranged groups, after they signed a new peace deal in neighboring Sudan on Aug. 5.

Following the announcement of the amnesty, several rebel commanders and hundreds of forces have rejoined the government and it signifies the quest for peaceful resolution of the conflict, said Lul Ruai Koang, spokesperson for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.



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