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Executive Summary for July 16th

We review the latest peace and security issues, including weakening prospects for a South Sudan peace deal, religious scholars meeting in Saudi Arabia to push for peace in Afghanistan and Myanmar concluding its third round of peace talks with ethnic armed groups.

Published on July 16, 2018 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Developments Weaken Prospects for South Sudan Peace Deal

South Sudan’s rebels on July 9 refused a deal that would reinstate the country’s former vice president as part of an effort to end the country’s nearly five-year-long war, Reuters reported.

The opposition said that the deal was not enough to weaken President Salva Kiir’s grip on power.

“We will not fall only for the position of the first vice president in this negotiation. We are focusing more on structural and institutional issues to constrain Kiir’s regime both in the executive and legislature,” said Puok Both Baluang, deputy spokesperson for the SPLM-IO rebel group. He added that rebels should appoint two of the country’s four vice presidents.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s parliament voted on July 12 to extend Kiir’s mandate until 2021, Reuters reported. The move is likely to dim the prospects of a peace deal since the extension is rejected by members of the country’s opposition.

“We regret the move as it shows the regime is playing games at the negotiating table. The international community should not recognize this move and the regime should be declared as a rogue regime,” said Mabior Garang de Mabior, SPLM-IO spokesperson, told Reuters by phone from Nairobi.

Separately, the United Nations Security Council on Friday imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan in an attempt to protect civilians and revitalize the country’s peace process, according to Reuters.

“This decision is long overdue and critically needed to cut off the flow of weapons into the country,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes.

However, Ethiopia’s United Nations ambassador Tekeda Alemu and South Sudan’s U.N. ambassador Akuei Bona Malwal told the security council that the embargo would undermine the peace agreement. Malwal described the embargo as a “slap in the face of those organizations who are trying to bring peace in South Sudan.”

Religious Leaders Meet in Saudi Arabia to Push for Peace in Afghanistan

A delegation of Muslim scholars convened in Saudi Arabia on July 10 to support efforts to broker peace in Afghanistan, Asharq al-Awsat reported.

More than 200 delegates, including at least 35 Islamic scholars from Afghanistan, attended the International Conference of Muslim Scholars on Peace and Stability in Afghanistan, according to Tolo News.

The two-day conference comes roughly one month after the Taliban and the Afghan government brokered a three-day cease-fire on the occasion of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday. The truce marked the first nationwide lull in hostilities in 17 years.

According to the United States Institute of Peace, Afghanistan’s religious leaders played an instrumental role in helping achieve the Eid al-Fitr cease-fire.

Despite last month’s truce, civilian deaths in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of 2018, Reuters reported, citing a U.N. report that stated that around 1,692 people have been killed in the first half of the year.

Myanmar Concludes Third Round of Peace Talks With Ethnic Armies

The third round of peace talks between the Myanmar government and ethnic armed groups ended on Monday, with participants making progress toward a potential cease-fire accord between warring parties, Xinhua reported.

Myanmar’s 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference aims to bring warring parties to the negotiation table, broker a cease-fire accord and ultimately create a democratic federal union through dialogue.

Participants in this round of negotiations agreed on 14 new political, economic and environmental principles as part of the Nationwide Cease-Fire Accord.

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