Executive Summary for July 23rd

We review the latest peace and security issues, including the president of South Sudan saying he is ready to sign a peace deal, former FARC rebels taking up seats in Colombia’s congress and President Trump ordering U.S. diplomats to talk directly with the Taliban.

Published on July 23, 2018 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

South Sudan President Says He Is Ready to Sign Peace Deal

South Sudan’s president on Wednesday said he is ready to sign a peace deal that would end the country’s five-year-long conflict and set up an inclusive government, Reuters reported.

“The people of South Sudan are looking for peace and if that arrangement can bring about peace to the people of South Sudan, I am ready to take it,” President Salva Kiir was quoted as saying.

The peace agreement currently being negotiated between Kiir and the opposition would give the country some form of power-sharing arrangement that distributes power between five vice presidents.

However, the White House on Sunday expressed doubts over whether the leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties have the qualities needed to deliver peace, Reuters said.

“We are deeply concerned about the direction of the current peace process … A narrow agreement between elites will not solve the problems plaguing South Sudan,” said the statement.

“South Sudan’s political leaders … have not demonstrated the leadership required to bring genuine peace … We remain sceptical that they can oversee a peaceful and timely transition to democracy and good governance,” it added.

Former FARC Rebels Take Seats in Colombia Congress for the First Time in Country’s History

Ten former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (known as the FARC) took up their seats as new members of congress on Friday, CNN reported.

Five former FARC rebels took seats in the Senate and another five joined the House of Representatives, marking the first time in Colombia’s history that former FARC members have become legislators.

It comes as part of a 2016 peace deal between the FARC and the government that awarded former rebels seats in the Senate and in the lower house.

“Today we are witnessing a true milestone in our history,” outgoing president Juan Manuel Santos was quoted as saying.

Trump Orders U.S. Envoys to Engage Directly with Taliban Over Peace Deal

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, in an attempt to kick off a wider peace process that could settle the 17-year-long conflict, the Telegraph reported on July 16.

The order marks a change in U.S. policy toward the conflict, which has previously held that talks with the Taliban should be carried out by the Afghan government. The decision is also a concession to the Taliban, which has previously said it would only negotiate directly with the U.S. and not with the government in Kabul.

Sohail Shahin, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, welcomed the U.S. decision.

“This is what we wanted and were waiting for, to sit with the U.S. directly and discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan,” he was quoted as saying.

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