The government of South Sudan is lobbying the African Union to set up a peacekeeping force similar to that in Somalia, to ensure that the terms of the peace agreement are not violated by either side.
Juba doubts whether the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, to be transformed into the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism, will be effective in preventing ceasefire violations.
The newly appointed South Sudan Special Peace Envoy, John Andruga Duku, told The EastAfrican that the idea is to have a force with contributions from countries neighbouring South Sudan, controlled by the AU and funded by the United Nations, just like the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
He argued that it would be better for the AU to take charge because their experience with the Igad monitoring mechanism showed that it did not have the capacity to cover hotspots, and was prone to blaming both sides whenever the terms of the ceasefire were violated.
According to the recently signed Compromise Peace Agreement on South Sudan, troops from Igad partner states and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will take charge of Juba for 30 months of the transition period until elections are conducted in 2018.
Igad sources told The EastAfrican that the government was jumping the gun, as these are some of the issues on the agenda of the September 5 workshop on security arrangements, and how to implement them.
The workshop in Addis Ababa is discussing what type of command the force will have, where it will be stationed and what type of equipment it needs to ensure that the peace agreement is not violated in the 90-day interim period before the transitional government of national unity is put in place on December 1.
Other issues include the formation of a Joint Military Ceasefire Commission to oversee the cantonment of the soldiers and the Strategic Defence and Security Review team that includes participation of the warring parties, the political parties, churches, women’s organisations and youth groups.
Juba has not been happy with UNMISS since the civil war broke out in December 2013. UNMISS was established in July 2011 to help the newly independent nation develop capacity to provide security and longer-term state building, but the government says it has been unable to cope with the challenges of the civil war, which was not part of its mandate.
The focus for Igad after the signing of the peace deal is the demilitarisation of Juba and how to establish the Joint Integrated Police (JIP) by the warring parties, even though there is still mistrust between them and claims of violation of the permanent ceasefire by both sides.
The rebel side led by Riek Machar says that they have advised those who were camping at the UN camps in Juba, Upper Nile and Unity States to stay put until the Joint Integrated Police takes control.
According to Dr Machar’s representative in Kenya, Adel Sandrai, it is still too risky for the internally displaced to return to their homes when government forces have gone to the offensive in some areas.
While the ceasefire is holding in most parts of the country, both the rebels and the government have engaged in skirmishes in Malakal in violation of the agreement.
US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner, noted that recent fighting by forces on both sides runs contrary to the terms of the peace agreement, and announced that the US is working with the UN Security Council to pursue sanctions against those violating the agreement.
In the meantime, a group that defected from the rebels and is now calling itself Federal Democratic Party, has rejected a recently signed peace deal.
The group led by Gabriel Changson Chang, is calling upon Igad to adopt a new strategy in the peace process on the grounds that a lasting peace in South Sudan can only come when all parties and stakeholders in the conflict are included in the deal.
Mr Chang said in a statement that his group does not believe that President Kiir and Dr Machar will be able to work together after failing to gain trust despite working for eight years in the same government.
They are also not happy that the Igad compromise peace agreement failed to recognise the Juba massacre, which is a disappointment to the Nuer ethnic group in general and to the families of the massacred people in particular.