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Plenary Opening Statement of the JMEC Chairperson, H.E Festus Mogae, Wednesday, March 15, 2017

 

OPENING STATEMENT BY H.E. FESTUS G. MOGAE CHAIRMAN OF JMEC DURING THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE JOINT MONITORING & EVALUATION COMMISSION

15th MARCH 2017

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. I welcome you all to our March plenary.
  1. In the past week we have witnessed global recognition of International Women’s Day. Here in South Sudan events were held across the country recognising the invaluable and inspiring contribution that the women of South Sudan continue to make despite enduring challenges.
  1. It is a small gesture but I wish to dedicate these opening remarks to the women of South Sudan. They have suffered the greatest injustices and born the greatest burden of conflict but they continue to nourish, nurture, protect and provide for the families and communities of this country and they do so with unfailing courage and commitment.
  1. The women of South Sudan are strong and capable and we would wish to see their contribution increase across all aspects of national life. Peace processes are inevitably more successful with strong female involvement and I firmly believe that there can be no sustainable peace in South Sudan without the full participation and leadership of women.
  1. Last week, I had a fruitful mission to Washington where I met with Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Senator Jeff Flake, Chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They expressed their concerns at the failure to end hostilities and the lack of progress in the implementation of the peace agreement, despite the amount of effort and resources being expended to help the country.
  1. I welcome the most recent visit last week of the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, H.E. President Konare. The engagement of the African Union within South Sudan is crucially important to the delivery and implementation of the Agreement, and his personal commitment and support is greatly appreciated.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. Whether by design or default, a war is being waged around this country and the security and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. And so I wish to spell out the three defining questions that we, as JMEC, face together right now.
  1. How do we stop the fighting? How do we stop innocent people dying of starvation? And how do we ensure that the interests and concerns of all South Sudanese communities are fully represented and considered? Peace, relief and inclusivity.
  1. These three issues are wholly interconnected. The humanitarian crisis, now officially a famine, is the direct result of insecurity and armed violence perpetrated by all parties to the Agreement.
  1. This insecurity and armed violence is a direct result of the perception and reality of political exclusion from the peace process.
  1. And therefore, only when all the people and communities of South Sudan see that their interests and concerns are being represented, can peace return to this country, and the people return to normal life.
  1. There can never be a military solution in South Sudan. To find a sustainable solution, we must be willing to listen to all views, accommodate all constituencies and compromise.
  1. Equally, a political solution cannot be imposed upon any one side by any other. We must be willing to find the appropriate solution that answers the interests of all and creates opportunity through a genuinely democratic dispensation.
  1. Two weeks ago, I met with the President of South Sudan, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, and had an important discussion primarily focused on the National Dialogue initiative, which has the potential to address national grievances if it is genuinely and sincerely inclusive.
  1. I have reiterated my view that the National Dialogue must hear and address the views of all communities in South Sudan, not simply those who agree with the Government.
  1. The National Dialogue must be authentic, autonomous and impartially-led for it to be credible and deliver a true and reliable representation of all views and concerns.
  1. I had the pleasure of attending the National Prayer Day last Friday at the John Garang Stadium in Juba. I share the sentiments expressed by Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro when he said that this Prayer was for peace and that therefore we expect to see genuine, honest and explicit efforts made towards reconciliation and an end to all armed conflict.
  1. For this National Prayer to have any meaning or authenticity to the people of South Sudan, it must be be accompanied by an immediate end to the on-going hostilities and violations of human rights which continue unabated.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. In summary of our assessment of the situation in the South Sudan I must report the following:
  1. Sadly repeated calls for peace have gone unheeded. CTSAMM will brief us later but since the last Plenary, we have received reports of new and intense fighting between the SPLA–IG and the SPLA–IO loyal to Dr. Machar in Fangak State and in the Equatorias, with the worst incidents in and around Yei and Kajo Keji, with civilians continuing to be displaced at an alarming rate.
  1. Whilst we in this room are trying to encourage implementation of the Peace Agreement, the SPLA-IG and the SPLA-IO loyal to Dr. Machar, and other armed groups, wage relentless war and engage in the destruction of lives and communities in total violation of the ceasefire agreement.
  1. It is not acceptable and I strongly condemn the violence, the killings, the human rights abuses and the destruction of homes by all armed groups around this country. Those responsible must be held accountable for the continuous suffering of innocent civilians.
  1. I am also disappointed to learn that the CTSAMM team in Malakal was, on several occasions, denied freedom of movement by the SPLA-IG as they tried to investigate the fighting that took place in Wau Shilluk in early February.
  1. CTSAMM and the JMCC must work together to report freedom of movement violations complete with the names of the commanders responsible, so that the TGoNU can take action against the culprits. CTSAMM must be afforded the freedom of movement to execute their mandate.
  1. Repeated and ongoing violations of the ceasefire must be more openly addressed. There must be accountability for these violations and I ask everyone around this table to facilitate and support CTSAMM in their mission.
  1. In January a member of the CTSAMM monitoring and verification team in Wau was killed, reportedly by SPLA-IO (Machar). I strongly condemn this killing and any intimidation or interference with CTSAMM representatives by any Parties to the Agreement.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. On 20th February, UN Agencies WFP, UNICEF and FAO declared a localised famine affecting about 100,000 people in northern Unity State. An additional one million are on the brink of famine in several other parts of the country where farming has been severely hampered and food prices have soared since the outbreak of fighting in July last year.
  1. A formal famine declaration means that people have already started to die from starvation. This famine, however, has nothing to do with failing rains, drought or infertile soil. It is entirely the product of violence and insecurity. When people are driven from the land in fear of their lives, production stops, food becomes scarce and people starve.
  1. I will invite a more detailed report on the humanitarian situation from the UNMISS SRSG, Mr David Shearer, but I find continuous reports of the denial of access for critical humanitarian aid, predominantly by the government, to be deplorable.
  1. Every single act of violence results in ever growing numbers of refugees or IDP’s and this is deeply regretable. All Parties to the Agreement must take responsibility for the protection of the South Sudanese people.
  1. There is a huge gap between the required humanitarian assistance and the actual supply. Therefore, on behalf of those innocent people now suffering, I appeal to the international community to increase their support for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan.
  1. In the interim, we must urgently look again at all possible practical measures that we can take to alleviate the desparate suffering that millions of people are facing every day.
  1. The economic crisis is deepening further. Increased insecurity in rural areas has contributed to a significant reduction in agricultural production and has also negatively impacted oil production. Together with low oil prices, these developments have caused a dramatic decline in revenues and living standards across the country.
  1. The Transitional Government of National Unity has from 1st March announced an increase in work permit fees from $100 up to between $1,000 and $10,000. These measures are no doubt aimed at increasing non-oil revenues in foreign currency.
  1. However, such measures will affect both the public and private sectors in South Sudan by impairing future economic growth and development through a reduction in the transfer of skills and lowering foreign direct investment.
  1. Increased fees levied on foreign humanitarian workers will hinder the humanitarian relief effort in a manner that is inconsistent with the spirit of Chapter III of the Agreement. I appeal to TGoNU to reconsider these measures.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. With regard to the implementation of the Agreement, I can report the following:
  1. The NCAC has held two meetings during which all the amendments to the Constitution to incorporate the Agreement have been discussed. NCAC has also met both the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Minister for Cabinet Affairs and briefed them on progress. Both Ministers have affirmed the government’s commitment to the implementation of the agreement and pledged to support the work of NCAC. The Committee is working hard to complete the review of the Constitution before the end of the month.
  1. In February, JMEC formally submitted CTSAMM Board-certified ceasefire violation reports, including attribution, to the TGoNU and requested that both Honorable Michael Makuei for SPLA-IG and Honorable Dhuei Mathok for SPLA-IO advise JMEC on actions taken regarding the reported violations.
  1. The JMCC has continued to develop plans for cantonment and we hope that a pilot programme will commence soon. I am aware of the challenges that the JMCC is facing but I hope that it will explore every option to deliver a practical and realistic solution.
  1. I further applaud the JMCC for successfully resolving a number of illegal occupations in Juba, and restoring properties to their rightful owners.
  1. The Joint Integrated Police have developed a full Action Plan for 2017 and remains ready to engage training for over 1,000 police at Rajaf Training Centre. However, delays to the vetting and registration process and to resource allocation appear to be stalling progress and we urge the TGoNU to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
  1. I call upon the TGoNU to demonstrate commitment to these Agreement institutions by funding the provision of resources and facilities required to successfully achieve objectives; and I encourage the regional and international partners to support them.
  1. The SDSR Board Chairperson and his team continue to work towards completing the Strategic Defence Review and have been working with partners on developing an initiative that will set a number of key parameters, such as armed group integration, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), and the right-sizing of security forces.
  1. Chapter Four of the Peace Agreement underlines the need for economic stability. Data for government spending for the first half of 2016/17 shows that, despite overspending on some areas, the Government is close to meeting its goals on the implementation of its ambitious stabilization plan.
  1. Beyond the establishment in December 2016 of the Technical Committee for the National Consultative Process for the Establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTHR), there has been no further progress on establishing Chapter Five mechanisms and institutions. I have heard nothing from the African Union Commission on the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan.
  1. These are matters of great concern. Given the escalation of the conflict, progress towards Chapter Five mechanisms is needed now more than ever before and I appeal to all parties to move with haste to enable their swift establishment. There must be accountability for the atrocities that are being committed daily across South Sudan.
  1. I would like to urge the TGoNU to ensure that victims, especially victims of sexual and gender based violence, are assured of witness protection and support measures to encourage them to participate in the proposed consultations on the CTHR.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. Around this table we are all JMEC members, and as such we all have a role in guiding, supporting and encouraging the TGoNU in its essential task of implementing the Agreement. To do that we need to act and work together. The people of South Sudan look to us to help their leaders live up to their commitments under the Agreement.
  1. There is a proposal before us today that seeks to form working committees, as permitted by the provisions of Chapter Seven of the Agreement, and which results from the consultations conducted at the JMEC Evaluation Review Workshop two weeks ago.
  1. The proposal we are making today is about utilising the capacity and potential of this Commission and taking a collaborative approach to enhancing our oversight role, and maximising our collective ability to assess, evaluate, and support the implementation of the Agreement.
  1. I commend the TGoNU and all JMEC members for their valuable contributions to finalising this initiative and I trust that it will have our full approval for immediate implementation.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. Finally, I recommend that JMEC must continue to demand:
  1. the total cessation of violence around the country and the immediate deployment of the Regional Protection Force;
  2. the full and credible inclusion of all Parties and stakeholders in the political process;
  3. the constant encouragement to the TGoNU to ensure a genuinely inclusive National Dialogue that involves all the estranged parties to the Agreement, other armed groups, communities, civil society and women’s groups;
  4. the continued support to the NCAC to conclude the necessary work to fully incorporate the Agreement into the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan;
  5. continued implementation of Chapter II Transitional Security Arrangements and cantonment activities;
  6. a dramatic and immediate improvement of the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance and the establishment of the Special Reconstruction Fund (SRF) and its Board as provided for in Chapter III of the Agreement;

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. In conclusion, I expect this Plenary meeting to:
  1. approve the new JMEC Working Committee structure for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the ARCSS;
  2. receive a briefing from the TGoNU on recent progress made in implementing the Agreement and an update on the petroleum sector reform programme;
  3. receive an update from TGoNU and UNMISS on the current humanitarian situation and the cooperation of the TGoNU to enable unhindered humanitarian assistance; and
  4. receive summary reports on the status of the various boards and commissions of the Agreement and the progress towards their objectives.
  1. At the end of this Plenary meeting, I have invited a brief presentation from the JMEC representatives of the Faith based groups so that we might better understand the impact of insecurity on the poorest and weakest people within our society.
  1. Finally, I take this opportunity to thank all our partners in TGoNU, the other South Sudanese stakeholders, IGAD, AU, Troika, EU, China, the UN, UNMISS, and the International Partners and Friends of South Sudan for their commitment and continued support to JMEC and the Peace Agreement for South Sudan.
  1. May God bless us all and continue to guide us in the relentless pursuit of peace.

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