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JMEC Statement to IGAD Heads of State Meeting December 8, 2016

STATEMENT BY H.E. FESTUS G. MOGAE, CHAIRPERSON OF JMEC TO THE IGAD HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT SUMMIT ADDIS ABABA ETHIOPIA ON THE STATUS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE CONFLICT IN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH SUDAN

9th December, 2016

H.E Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, and Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government,

H.E Omar Hassan al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan,

H.E Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti;

H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan;

H.E Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia. H.E Sam Kuteesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Uganda

H.E Amina Mohammed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kenya

 

Apologies from H.E Festus G Mogae

 

Excellencies; Ladies and Gentlemen;

I thank you for the opportunity to address you at this important summit. JMEC is grateful for IGAD’s support and guidance in what has been a challenging undertaking.

The peace process in South Sudan continues to face significant challenges. The security situation has deteriorated, the economy is near collapse, and the humanitarian crisis has deepened significantly since my last report to you.

The agreement to end hostilities and establish a permanent ceasefire which underpins the peace agreement continues to be violated. The widening of the armed conflict to the Greater Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions and the emergence of armed groups not party to the peace agreement has further compounded insecurity and complicated the environment for implementation of the peace agreement.

There remain notable gaps in representation in the current political process, and the institutions and mechanisms of the peace agreement. As you are aware, some parties to the peace agreement have abandoned the process following the events of early July. JMEC takes the view that the peace agreement can still be implemented. However, concerted efforts must be made to ensure inclusivity of all parties willing to resume the implementation process.

JMEC continues to encourage all parties to resume full implementation of the peace agreement. To this end, I have urged all parties, more particularly the Transitional Government of National Unity, to demonstrate leadership and campaign for peace and assume a more visible stance in propagating peace among all communities and citizens of South Sudan.

An inclusive political process can only be sustained within a secure environment. I welcome the recent statement by the Transitional Government of National Unity that all outstanding issues related to the deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF) had been resolved. The deployment of the RPF is a critical factor in establishing a safe and secure environment for the implementation of the peace agreement.

I must express my regret that the participation in UNMISS of one of our key partners has been disrupted. In light of Kenya’s historic and important role in South Sudan’s peace process, I plead with your Excellencies to urge H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of the Republic of Kenya to remain fully engaged including by participating in the Regional Protection Force.

The conflict has deepened and widened the humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people continue to flee the violence into neighbouring countries. This situation has worsened the regional humanitarian crisis, yet the UN Refugee Response Plan is underfunded.

The numbers of Internally Displaced Persons has also increased exponentially as people flee fighting and insecurity. The majority (over 80%) of IDPs are women and children. Additionally, almost 1/3rd of the population remains food insecure as the economic crisis worsens.

Humanitarian agencies have continued to encounter difficulties posed by insecurity in delivering much needed aid. I welcome President Kiir’s recent establishment of a High Level Humanitarian Oversight Committee tasked with coordinating humanitarian services. Government facilitation of unhindered humanitarian access and safe passage across the country is essential and should be assured.

The ceasefire is continously violated with devastating effect on civilians. Numerous clashes between SPLA- IG and SPLA- IO forces and other armed groups continue almost daily across Western Bahr El-Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Unity States. Regretably, CTSAMM continues to face challenges and obstacles in verifiying and reporting on many of these incidents.

There are increasing reports of targeted and revenge killings, sexual violence, torture and destruction of farmland and property being committed by uniformed forces of the parties and other armed groups in parts of the Greater Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions.

In Central Equatoria, armed militia groups continue to target vehicles and convoys carrying goods and civilians. There is also a rise in inflammatory rhetoric, which carries the potential for wider violent ethno-centric conflict.

There is little doubt that this continued and growing trend of violence is having a very negative effect on the hopes of the people of South Sudan on the peace process.

I have made constant appeals to all parties and armed groups to renounce violence and exercise maximum restraint in pursuit of peace. I commend IGAD Heads of State and Government for remaining actively engaged in seeking solutions to the deteriorating situation in South Sudan.

Economically, South Sudan is in the throes of a deep economic crisis. The July violence resulted in a marked deterioration in the economic situation. Annual inflation reached 835% in October 2016.

High levels of food insecurity now prevail due to low agricultural production as people continue to abandon the rural areas to escape the violence. Insecurity on major roads has disrupted transportation of goods to markets. All these factors create inflationary pressures and adversely affect production. With greater insecurity, international aid is being diverted from development projects to humanitarian relief, further weakening the prospects of growth.

The Transitional Government of National Unity should be commended for the Draft Budget for 2016/17, which has cut expenditure by 50% from the previous year’s budget. However, only half of the spending is financed by revenues and grants. Also, the resources allocated in the budget for education and health services are woefully inadequate. In 2015/6 earmarked spending in these areas accounted for only 5 1⁄2 % of total government spending. These services are a priority for the ordinary citizen and need to be urgently improved. The government in partnership with the international community needs to come up with agreed packages to reverse the deterioration of these services.

It is also important that for South Sudan to come out of the economic quagmire it finds itself in, and to enter into a growth trajectory, the government needs to undertake an urgent and genuine reform program in partnership with the international community. Going forward, a long-term horizon in economic policy is needed. The government sector will need to be downsized to a level that can be financed sustainably.

Despite some of the above mentioned challenges, I am pleased to report some encouraging signs of cooperation and progress in some areas of the Peace Agreement:

The Transitional Security Arrangement Mechanisms that I have previously described as “disintegrated” have been revived and re-constituted. Whilst they are not all fully representative or inclusive, they are balanced and capable of driving this critical element of the Agreement forward.

The Joint Military Ceasefire Commission has met consistently each week for the past three months and is actively pursuing its terms of reference. It has fair representation from all Parties, with the notable exception of those forces who remain loyal to Dr. Riek Machar.

JMEC has hosted two JMCC workshops, one on operationalising UNSC Resolution 2304 and the other on the critical objective of cantonments with a clear aim of resolving key practical issues.

Joint Integrated Police trainees consisting of over 1,100 men and women are currently in training at the Rajaf Training Centre. Once their training is completed they will be deployed in and around Juba. It is encouraging that the trainees are drawn from both principal parties to the agreement and contain approximately 24% female trainees.

The Chairperson of the Strategic Defense and Security Review Board is working closely with JMEC to continue the establishment of the Secretariat and Board. JMEC is confident that the previous work on security sector reform in accordance with the Articles of chapter two of the Agreement will continue and remains critical.

The TGoNU has also now approved the new chairperson of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee appointed by IGAD, and he is currentlt in Juba ready to commence his important responsibility.

The JMEC board plenary is meeting regularly, and receiving regular updates from the Transitional Government of National Unity on its efforts to implement the peace agreement.

I share the IGAD leaders’ conviction that South Sudan’s best hope for a sustainable peace lies in full implementation of the Peace Agreement. This conviction is equally held by the many war-weary South Sudanese I meet with in Juba everday and the international community. Every effort should therefore be made by the region to ensure a return to full implementation and to prevent a renewed armed conflict in the country.

In conclusion therefore, I recommend the following:

  • That you urge all the Parties to the agreement, including those currently out of the peace process, to denounce violence and pursue a peaceful path to addressing their grievances;
  • That all steps be taken to enforce the cessation of hostilities, restore the permanent ceasefire, and implement the Transitional Security Arrangements mechanisms.
  • That steps be taken to fast-track the deployment of the Regional Protection Force to establish a secure enviroment in Juba, guarantee stability, and enhance confidence, and support implementation of the peace agreement;
  • Encourage H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the TGoNU to welcome all agreement parties willing to rejoin the peace process to do so in the spirit of greater inclusivity, forgiveness and reconciliation;
  • Insist that TGoNU guarantees The Ceasefiire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism’s freedom of movement and support its mandate in monitoring compliance by the parties to the peace agreement;
  • Appeal to the International community for increased resources to meet the humanitarain needs and urge TGoNU to ensure unimpeded access, safety and security for humanitarian convoys and aid workers.
  • Support the TGoNU to undertake practical and genuine reforms provided for in the agreement to build an inclusive, peaceful and democratic society founded on the rule of law;
  • Ensure genuine accountability for gross human rights violations, including sexual and gender based crimes committed, and expedite the establishment of the agreed mechanisms and institutions provided for under Chapter 5 of the Agreement.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to your Excellencies for your continued and tireless efforts in pursuit of durable peace in South Sudan.

I thank you.

H.E. Festus Mogae, Chairperson, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission

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