Members of the Council,
- I would like to thank the President of the Security Council, H.E. Liu Jieyi, for his kind invitation to me to brief the Security Council today.
- You will recall that in my last briefing to you in March, we were confronted by unprecedented hostilities targeting civilians, resulting in gross human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, a dramatic increase of refugees and internally displaced persons and an appalling humanitarian crisis in the country.
- In that context, I posed the following questions – How do we stop the fighting? How do we stop people dying of starvation? And how do we ensure inclusivity of all parties, communities and stakeholders in the peace process? Peace, relief and inclusivity.
- Immediately after that briefing, my team devised and drafted the One Voice initiative – a twelve point message from us ALL to the South Sudanese leadership demanding the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of the permanent ceasefire. It remains as pertinent and relevant today as it was when it was written.
- With the blessing of the IGAD Chairperson, H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, I engaged in a comprehensive and constant round of consultations with all the critical stakeholders, specifically in line with our One Voice initiative and in the pursuit of peace.
- I have maintained regular and forthright dialogue with the President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the First Vice President, General Taban Deng Gai, constantly reiterating our message of peace, humanitarian relief and political inclusivity.
- I have met and briefed the IGAD Heads of State and Government, the IGAD Council of Ministers, the AU Commission Chairperson, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the AU Peace and Security Council.
- I 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, with the purpose of identifing a way out of the escalating violence and humanitarian crisis.
- I appealed to IGAD, the AU, the UN and our international partners to adopt “one voice” in our engagement 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.
- 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, and not a military solution and they demanded wider inclusivity of and dialogue amongst the belligerents.
- In South Africa I met with the Vice President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as South Africa’s Special Envoy to South Sudan, and then with Dr. Riek Machar, the former First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan.
- The message I conveyed to Dr. Riek Machar was to renounce violence, declare a unilateral ceasefire and participate in the National Dialogue. He declined to do so. However, he demanded a new political process by the region outside South Sudan.
- I have also taken the time to meet with some of the key South Sudanese stakeholders in opposition and currently out of the country. 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.
- My message to all of them was that those who are still fighting should stop immediately for the sake of their country that they say they love so much, and that all serious parties should pursue a political path to return to the Peace Process.
- In principle most welcomed my message. Like Dr Riek Machar, 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.
- I hoped that by engaging so determinedly in this way, we would drive a peaceful, open and transparent dialogue that is imperative if we are to achieve an inclusive political process and silence the guns.
- Accordingly, IGAD held an Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa on 12th June 2017 and, following my recommendation, they decided to convene a High-Level Revitalization Forum of the parties, including estranged groups, to discuss concrete measures to:
- restore the permanent ceasefire,
- return to full implementation of the Peace Agreement and
- develop a revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards democratic elections at the end of the transition period;
- We should all welcome this timely decision of the IGAD leadership and seize the opportunity to end the senseless fighting, revitalise the implementation of the Peace Agreement and restore hope and aspiration for the people of South Sudan.
- The revitalisation of the implementation of the Peace Agreement is NOT a renegotiation. The Forum will explore options that can restore activity and prominence of the peace process. It is our hope that this revitalisation process will be pursued in the spirit of peace, inclusivity and compromise.
- I hope that all reasonable and positive proposals to restore and reinforce effective implementation of the Peace Agreement will be put forward, discussed and considered at the Forum. I encourage all Parties and estranged groups to seize this opportunity to put the country first, make compromises and accommodate one another for the sake of peace.
- Pursuant to this mandate, the IGAD Council of Ministers met on 02nd July 2017 and adopted guidelines and an indicative matrix for the convening of this High Level Revitalisation Forum within three months.
- This revitalization process is intended to ensure the broadest possible consultation with stakeholders, and to generate proposals that could make the Peace Agreement implementation more accommodative, viable and sustainable.
- Ultimately, the success of this process will require a willingness on the part of the Parties to the Peace Agreement and estranged groups to compromise and accommodate one another politically.
- A window of opportunity has arisen and we must all seize it. I believe that with a resolute and unified approach by IGAD, the African Union, the UN and the International Community, and with cooperation from the South Sudanese leaders, we can recover lost ground and restore hope to the people of South Sudan.
Thank you, Mr President.