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OPENING STATEMENT BY H.E. FESTUS G. MOGAE CHAIRMAN OF JMEC DURING THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE JOINT MONITORING AND EVALUATION COMMISSION 24 MAY 2017 JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN

 

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. I welcome you all to our May Plenary. Last week marked a historic moment in the birth of this young nation – the 34th anniversary of the launch of the South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement. I congratulate all the leaders and people of South Sudan on this important milestone.
  2. The theme for this anniversary is very important and timely. “Let us dialogue to forgive one another for sustainable reconciliation, peace and development.” It is a matter of deep regret, however, that, after a successful liberation struggle, this historic liberation movement now finds itself embroiled in fighting among former comrades.
  3. I want to appeal to all the sons and daughters of this land, to use this 34th anniversary to summon the spirit of comradeship that won their liberation to heal the bitter divide between SPLM factions which are now engaged in such unfortunate and destructive conflict.
  4. For peace and stability to endure in this country, and for the fruits of the liberation to translate into reality, we need a strong, united peaceful and democratic South Sudan.
  5. I therefore welcome H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit’s call for nationalism and patriotism on this day, and I want to appeal to the government and all the parties in opposition to honor the sacrifices that have been borne by all South Sudanese by making peace, not waging more war.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. The official launch of the National Dialogue this week is therefore very timely and a welcome development. I am encouraged by the declaration that the National Dialogue will be inclusive, transparent and conducted with integrity.
  2. The National Dialogue does not replace the implementation of the Peace Agreement; it is complementary. Let us all give peace and dialogue a chance in order to create a conducive environment for the full implementation of the Agreement.
  3. I commend the President for declaring a unilateral ceasefire and for recommending the release of political detainees. I urge all those in Opposition to follow suit immediately.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. We are now into the eighteenth month of the the implementation of the ARCSS and since this Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission was formed, and thirteen months into the Transition Period following the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) on April 29, 2016. This means, we have barely seventeen months left to October 2018 and the end of the Transitional Period.
  2. Some of the JMEC Working Committees have now held their second or third meetings since our last Plenary, and they have developed and adopted a roburst framework for evaluating progress for each chapter of the Agreement.
  3. I am encouraged by the real commitment and determination of all the Working Committees to undertake their tasks. I am confident that the work of these Committees will constitute an important and integral part of JMEC’s assessment, reporting and recommendations in the months ahead.
  4. I must also appreciate the commitment and determination shown by members of JMEC. Even the modest progress we have made so far would not have been possible without your concerted efforts and sustained contributions.
  5. However, time is catching up with the implementation of the Agreement. Our pace is far too slow and the situation is not getting any better. We need to ask more questions and demand more concrete steps from the TGoNU to expedite the implementation of the Agreement.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. Since the last Plenary, more fighting has been reported between the SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO (Machar) in Tonga, Kodok, and Aburoc in Upper Nile and very recently in Wau and Waat. Ambushes and attacks against civilians took place on Juba-Bor road and in Parajok.
  2. JMEC condemns this senseless continuation of violence and the resulting loss of civilian life and urges CTSAMM to quickly verify and report the parties responsible.
  3. These ongoing violations of the permanent ceasefire by the SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO MUST stop, and I expect the JMCC to make substantial recommendations to help the TGoNU and JMEC to achieve this outcome. The other armed groups contributing to these violence MUST also stop and pursue a peaceful path towards engagement in the peace process.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. I remain deeply concerned by the continuous deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country. The ongoing hostilities exacerbate the challenges and create even more humanitarian needs.
  2. The renewed violence reported in Yuai, Waat, Tonga and Kodok areas reportedly displaced between 50,000 and 100,000 people, of which at least 25,000 people fled to Aburoc and Sudan.
  3. According to the UN OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin of May 9th, 2017, the number of South Sudanese refugees in the neighbouring countries continues to grow and has reached 1.8 million, while the number of internally displaced persons now stands at about 2 million.
  4. These figures are staggering and continue to illustrate the scale of the impact of the ongoing conflict. Civilians are routinely and forcefully removed from their villages by the conflict and have their lives uprooted and livelihoods dismantled.
  5. Yet humanitarian access remains a constant challenge. For example, it is regrettable that the recent conflicts in Waat and Walgak in Jonglei state resulted in the relocation of the humanitarian aid workers from the area. The violence that caused this cannot by any stretch of imagination be said to be defensive.
  6. More South Sudanese continue to flee violence and face a growing reality of hunger, all the while wondering if they will ever see the peace dividend that implementation of the Agreement is expected to deliver.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. The prospect of famine spreading to other parts of the country is also increasing. When famine was first declared, it was in the two counties of Leer and Mayendit. But now Koch, a third county, is also reported to be on the verge of famine. These are clear warnings that if the fighting does not stop, the number of food insecure people in South Sudan could rise for months particularly during the raining season.
  2. While I extol the efforts of the region, international community and friends of South Sudan in their response to address the humanitarian catastrophe, I continue to appeal for more good will and urgent action. The South Sudan 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan projected that at least 1.6 billion US Dollars would be required for humanitarian response in the country, but only 27 per cent of the required funding has been received so far – leaving a funding shortfall of about USD 1.2 billion.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. As I promised in my last address to this Plenary, I have continued with my diplomatic engagments in the region, specifically in line with our One Voice initiative, and I consulted with regional leaders and some South Sudanese stakeholders in the pursuit of peace.
  2. I held consultations with the IGAD Chairperson H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and the AU Commission Chairperson, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, and briefed them on the deliberations we had here in Juba and the situation in the country.
  3. I also met with H.E. Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, and H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya. The purpose of my diplomatic mission within the region was to identify a path out of the escalating violence and humanitarian crisis.
  4. I appealed for us all to adopt “one voice” in our engagment with the leaders of South Sudan, and the need for the regional leaders to align their messages and actions to prevent the situation in South Sudan from further deterioration.
  5. The regional leaders expressed their grave concern with the recent escalation of violence, the ongoing violation of the permanent ceasefire and the worsening humanitarian situation in the country. They emphasised that the conflict in this country requires a political, not military solution and they demanded wider inclusivity of and dialogue amongst the belligerents.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. I also had the opportunity to meet with some of the key South Sudanese stakeholders currently in opposition. I met with Madam Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, former detainees Pagan Amum, Kosti Manibe, Dr. Majak and Dr. Cirino Hiteng, and also with Dr. Lam Akol, Thomas Cirillo, James Oryema and others in order to listen to their grievances.
  2. My message to all of them was that those who are still fighting should stop immediately for the sake of this country that they say they love so much, and that all serious parties should pursue a political path to return to the Peace Process.
  3. In principle they welcomed my message. They demanded a negotiated ceasefire and expressed their willingness to participate in a credible political process outside South Sudan that might lead to their return to the implementation of the Peace Agreement. In this regard they underlined the importance of the deployment of the Regional Protection Force.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. JMEC welcomes the recent progress made by the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) in incorporating the ARCSS into the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (2011), and for embarking on the relevant legislative review and amendments process.
  2. However, it is regrettable that the TGoNU has delayed the submission of this Amendment Bill to the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and missed the deadline prescribed by the Agreement.
  3. I urge the TGoNU to expedite this constitutional amendment process and also to immediately initiate a Permanent Constitution making process.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. The economic crisis continues, driven by declining oil production, low oil prices and decline in food production. The South Sudanese Pound (SSP) continues to depreciate and inflation remains high. However the economic measures implemented by the TGoNU to enhance economic stability have had some success.
  2. There has been a substantial decline in the budget deficit and a marked decline in the inflation rate from 550 percent per annum in September 2016 to 273 percent per annum in April 2017. More recently, after reaching a peak of 200 SSP/USD in April 2017, the exchange rate fell to a range of 140-160 SSP/USD in mid-May.
  3. If the authorities continue to pursue tighter fiscal and monetary policies, inflation and exchange rate depreciation can be expected to moderate further thus contributing to an improvement in the overall economic stability.
  4. The country will continue to face a difficult budget situation over the medium term as, given the low oil prices and production trends, net oil revenue cannot be expected to increase significantly anytime soon. New domestically financed spending for development and other services will require reallocation within the present budget envelope.
  5. Even amidst these economic challenges and budgetary constraints, an end to the hostilities will bring about a tangible peace dividend and ease some economic burdens for the people of South Sudan. The present threats to their lives and property will recede, and people will be able to return home, rebuild their lives and resume productive livelihoods.
  6. Specifically, the return of farmers to their land will increase food supplies in the markets and lower prices. Safer transport routes and more stable economic conditions will add marketable goods and stimulate economic activity.
  7. Ultimately, implementing broad and sustained development initiatives in South Sudan will require peace, but robust planning for post-conflict development programmes should start immediately. I urge the TGoNU to continue with its reforms and put in place a framework that will ensure the best use of its available resources.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. I therefore recommend that JMEC must continue to demand:
    1. full commitment by all parties to the restoration and implementation of the permanent ceasefire;
    2. total cessation of violence around the country and a commitment to pursue a political path to reconciling their differences;
    3. deployment of the Regional Protection Force to build confidence and encourage a return to inclusive implementation of the Peace Agreement;
    4. full and credible inclusion of all parties and stakeholders in the National Dialogue and implementation of the Peace Agreement;
    5. immediate initiation of the Permanent Constitution making process and a clear timeline to the end of the Transition Period;
    6. continued implementation of Chapter II Transitional Security Arrangements and cantonment activities; and allow unhindered and unfettered access to CTSAMM, and
    7. ABOVE ALL an immediate and sustained improvement of the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance; and
    8. the fast-tracking of the Amendment Bill incorporating the ARCSS into the Transitional Constitution and continued support to the NCAC to review and amend the necessary legislation within their mandate.
      1. reiterate our appeal to the IGAD leaders to speak with one voice, and align the messages and actions to South Sudanese leaders.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

  1. In conclusion, I expect this Plenary to:
    1. receive a briefing from the TGoNU on recent progress made in implementing the Peace Agreement;
    2. receive an update from TGoNU and UNMISS on the current humanitarian situation, in particular on steps taken to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access;
    3. receive summary reports on the status of the various boards and commissions of the Peace Agreement and the progress towards their objectives; and,
    4. welcome the progress that is being made by the various JMEC Working Committees and commend the Chairpersons and members for their commitment and contributions.
  2. At the end of this Plenary, I shall invite a brief presentation from the JMEC Civil Society representative.
  3. 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 process in South Sudan.
  4. May God bless us all and continue to guide us in the relentless pursuit of peace. Thank you.

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