Revitalizing Peace in South Sudan: Citizen Perceptions of the Peace Process

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From October to November 2018, the South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF), a coalition of more than two hundred South Sudanese civic organizations, surveyed 1,147 people in five locations in South Sudan and a refugee camp in Uganda to better understand their views on the peace process and the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). The report summarizes the main findings and recommendations.

Among the report’s recommendations is that the signatories, guarantors and supporters of the R-ARCSS should urgently invest in civic engagement efforts in order to raise awareness and generate a sense of ownership over the agreement among citizens. Other findings include the following:

  • Overall, respondents expressed relatively high levels of awareness about the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF), but less than half (43%) thought the R-ARCSS would bring lasting peace.
  • Respondents who felt well informed about the peace process were twice as likely to think that the R-ARCSS would bring lasting peace than those that felt uniformed.
  • Respondents in general, and women and refugees in particular, were mostly uninformed about the governance arrangements provided for in the R-ARCSS. When told that the R-ARCSS increased the number of vice-presidents from two to five and the number of parliamentarians from 440 to 550, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they opposed the decisions.
  • Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they did not support the decision to create 32 states. Most respondents (57%) said there should be 10 states in South Sudan.
  • Forty percent of respondents said that they or someone in their household knew women and children that had been abducted by armed groups since the conflict began in December 2013.
  • A sizeable majority of respondents (70%) said the decision to impose an arms embargo was the right decision.
  • Respondents across survey locations were sharply divided on whether neighboring countries should deploy troops to provide security in South Sudan. For example, 54 percent of respondents in Bentiu town supported the deployment of Sudanese troops while not a single respondent in Bor supported their deployment. Conversely, 77 percent of respondents in Bor supported the deployment of Ugandan troops while just six percent of respondents in Bentiu supported their deployment.

The period leading up to the establishment of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) will be a test of the parties’ commitment to peace and their ability to make decisions in a deliberate and collective manner. By demonstrating leadership, a spirit of compromise, and a willingness to engage in open dialogue, the parties can demonstrate to their people and the broader international community that they are committed to opening a new page for South Sudan. The South Sudan Civil Society Forum hopes that the findings in this report can contribute to these efforts.

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South Sudan Civil Society Forum

The South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF) is a coalition of more than 200 independent civic groups, including civil society organizations, women and youth groups, academia, community based organizations and faith-based organizations from across South Sudan. The coalition was established in December 2017 to provide unified contributions from civil society to the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) and to act as a bridge between the HLRF and the South Sudanese population.

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