Japan on Tuesday donated 3.2 million dollars to Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to help boost South Sudan peace process.
Ismail Wais, IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, said in a statement that the funds would be used towards the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.
He reiterated the East African bloc’s commitment to the ending of the conflict in South Sudan through collaboration with parties and stakeholders.
And also through involvement of all interested parties in giving the South Sudanese people the peace they desperately want.
The deal, which is meant to end a civil war that began in 2013, commits forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the rebel groups fighting them, to sharing power.
Kiir offered an unprecedented apology for a conflict that “was a complete betrayal to our people and the liberation struggle”.
“As your president, I want to apologise on behalf of all the parties for what we have caused you, our people … I deeply regret the physical and psychological wounds you have had.
“Today marks the end of the war in the Republic of South Sudan,” he said.
Riek Machar, the leader of the country’s biggest coalition of rebel fighters, returned to Juba for the first time since 2016 to take part in a ceremony involving singers, flags and drums staged before regional dignitaries.
“We came … for peace and … to end the suffering of people,” Machar said on his arrival at Juba’s airport. He was accompanied by his wife and a small retinue, but none of his troops.
“It’s the same model that spectacularly failed before, without the reasons for that failure being addressed,” said Alan Boswell, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.
Machar, who under the terms of the peace deal is to be reinstated as vice president, fled Juba two years ago pursued by helicopter gunships when an earlier peace accord collapsed amid allegations of a coup attempt.
Kiir said he had ordered the release of an imprisoned South African adviser to Machar and a rebel group spokesman as part of the deal.
The peace agreement was signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in September. However, though it has regional support, there has been little backing from major international powers.
South Sudan gained its independence with significant support from senior officials and celebrities such as George Clooney.
The Trump administration has shown little interest in the country’s worsening plight.
Experts say the conflict has now degenerated into chaos, with different factions, militia and self-defence groups battling for a share of what is left of South Sudan’s resources.
“The deal has got the backing of Uganda and Sudan, who have long been the puppet-string pullers, and that is some reason for optimism.
The UN previously accused government forces and allied militias of potential “war crimes”.
A third of the population has been displaced and two-and-a-half million people forced into exile as refugees.
Those remaining have endured repeated bouts of deadly famine.