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JMEC December Plenary – Chairman’s Opening Statement December 16, 2016





Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

I welcome you all to this last JMEC Plenary of 2016. It has been a dramatic year and one in which South Sudan might best be described as having taken one step forward and two steps back.

December is a very important month in our calendar. Not just as the Christian celebratation of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but also for a number of other important reasons.

In many parts of sub-saharan Africa, December is a month of harvest. It is a month during which we reap what we have sown. December is also a month of reflection upon the year past and planning for the year ahead.

I invite us all to reflect on this past year – the achievements, the progress and also the many missed opportunities that have cost us dearly as we search for a durable peace in this country.

As we approach Christmas, the message is one of “peace and goodwill to all people” and that must be central in our message to all the people of South Sudan. We must all commit here and now to making 2017 a year of peaceful progress.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Back in January, in my opening address to the very first JMEC plenary, I set out a few objectives for the implementation of the Peace Agreement, as follows:

  • that the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) would be formed and be fully functional;
  • that the new TGoNU takes bold steps to rapidly address the dire humanitarian situation in the country;
  • that insecurity would end and the new unity government would direct appropriate resources to much-needed education and service delivery;
  • that there will be greater cooperation and compromise within the new government of national unity and hence a fast-tracked implementation of the peace agreement;
  • that there would be establishment and operationalisation of all key Transitional Security Arrangments Institutions and Mechanisms (JMCC, SDSR, JOC, JIP, etc); and
  • finally, that key pre-transition tasks, including the work of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC), the SDSR and JIP, would be completed.

I had hoped that there would be an amended Transitional Consitution, that Juba would be demilitarised and secured by the civil police service, and a roadmap would be formalised for the transformation of the security sector for South Sudan.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

I leave the verdict to each one of you but I think we can all agree that we have not fulfilled our obligations to the Agreement or to the long suffering people of this country. We all know very well that our modest accomplishments have been outweighed by a number of squandered opportunities. Suffice to say, however, that, if it weren’t for the unfortunate events of July, we may very well have achieved something more substantial.

During 2016, the TGoNU was inaugurated in April; some of the Agreement institutions and mechanisms like JMCC, CTSAMM, SDSR, JOC had been established, and others fully operationalised; the JIP was assembled, ready for training; and the NCAC had undertaken some commendable work.

Sadly, following the July fighting and subsequent turmoil, many of these acheivements unravelled and we were almost thrown back to square one. We found ourselves having to reconstitute many of the Agreement institutions in the face of diminished inclusion and various new factions, some opposed to or deliberately undermining the peace efforts. The hopes of many ordinary South Sudanese were dashed.

Over the past few months, I have repeatedly called for an end to the fighting, for the full implementation of the ceasefire; for the restoration of full inclusivity within the political process; and for the TGoNU to address the desperate humanitarian situation. Most of all I have called for dignified and unified political leadership.

In light of this, I welcome the pronouncement a few days ago by H.E. President Salva Kiir when he reached out to his people with such strong and heartfelt words as he launched the much-needed National Dialogue initiative.

The President has seized a critical opportunity for national reconciliation, he has appealed for a spirit of forgiveness and togetherness, and he has set in motion a campaign to address the concerns and grievances of the South Sudanese people.

I applaud the President’s leadership in this matter and we in JMEC will support the National Dialogue in any way we can. The President has called for peace, unity, forgiveness and dialogue and this is undoubtedly a very good starting point for the New Year.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

I also wish to highlight those areas where progress has been made:

  • the TGoNU is established and operational;
  • the TNLA has been expanded and has commenced business;
  • representation of the other political parties and other stakeholders to the Agreement institutions has largely been resolved, with a few exceptions;
  • the Transitional Security Arrangement Mechanisms have been created and some have been operationalised:
    • CTSAMM has fully transitioned from the MVM and dutifully reported on its operations and investigations amidst enduring challenges,
    • the SDSR Board has been meeting and has set out an ambitious and robust path towards providing the Council of Ministers with revised assessments and policies in early 2017,
    • the JMCC recently held it’s second cantonment workshop in the presence of high ranking officials of the TGoNU, including Cabinet Ministers, and the SPLA Chief of General Staff. The JMCC is pressing forward to gain TGoNU approval for their plan to establish the first four cantoment sites across the greater Equatoria region from February to May 2017,
    • the JIP has made preparations to train approximately 1200 police men and women;
  • the NCAC now has a Chairperson;
  • a programme for economic and fiscal stabilisation is underway as reported in my last Plenary statement. Importantly,
    • the cash management system appears to be working and expenditure for the first quarter of this fiscal year was within the proscribed ceiling,
    • there is constructive dialogue between the TGoNU and the IMF
  • and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has now inagurated a Technical Consultative Committee for the Commissition for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing. I welcome this important development towards establishing a much-needed process for accountability and transitional justice.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Alongside the renewed efforts of the President, I am also grateful for the display of unity presented by the Chiefs’ Council, with whom I met last month.

Six hundred and fifty five Chiefs from 64 tribes gathered together to discuss their role in bringing peace to their country. It was an honour to address them and listen to them. They believe this is a political struggle, not a tribal struggle and they say they are ready and willing to play their part in bringing people together.

In light of the President’s initiative, I hope that the Chiefs will be afforded a role in the National Dialogue so that, through them, voice can be given to the hopes and aspirations of all people.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is appropriate to appreciate and acknowledge the sentiments expressed in the communique of the most recent IGAD Heads of State Summit, held in Addis Ababa on 09 December.

They have expressed their concern and dismay that the implementation of the Agreement has been so badly disrupted, but remain of the firm conviction that the Agreement is the only viable means through which to deliver peace.

They have called upon the TGoNU and the leadership of the Republic of South Sudan to fully cooperate with essential security and humanitarian operations and to immediately condemn acts of discrimination, hostility and hatred that could constitute incitement to violence. H.E. President Salva Kiir has responded positively and set the example for others to follow.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

In conclusion, I recommend that we use this Plenary meeting to:

  • Reflect on possible steps that should be taken in 2017 to address the revival of the full implementation of the Peace Agreement, and to catch-up with the implementation schedule;
  • To receive a briefing from the TGoNU on recent progress made in implementing the Agreement, and in particular steps being taken to address the deteriorating security situation in some parts of the country;
  • We receive an update on the current humanitarian situation from UNMISS and steps being taken by the TGoNU to enable unhindered humanitarian assistance;
  • To receive summary reports on the status of the various boards and commissions (JMCC, SDSRB, CTSAMM, JIP-MT) and their progress and strategies towards implementation of their tasks.

Over the next few Plenary meetings, I intend for us to hear the voice of everyone around the table and particularly their plans to support JMEC and the implementation of the Peace Agreement.To start this conversation, I have invited a presentation from the JMEC youth representatives. We look forward to hearing the views and plans of all representatives over the next few Plenary meetings.

Finally, I must take this opportunity to thank all our partners in TGoNU, the other South Sudanese stakeholders, IGAD, AU, Troika, EU, China, UNMISS, the International partners and friends of South Sudan for their commitment and continued support to JMEC and the peace process in South Sudan.

We appeal to all the parties, the leadership and people of South Sudan to observe peace during this festive season and beyond.

May the New Year of 2017 bring fresh inspiration and a renewed spirit of cooperation. I expect us all to make up for lost time, catch up with the implementation schedule and make real progress.

I wish you all a merry christmas, a happy new year and a restful and reflective holiday. May God bless us all, give us wisdom in the new year, and continue to guide us in the relentless pursuit of peace.

H.E. Festus Mogae, JMEC Chairman

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