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STATEMENT BY H.E. FESTUS G. MOGAE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT MONITORING & EVALUATION COMMISSION TO THE 19th JMEC PLENARY THURSDAY, 24th AUGUST 2017 JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN

Honourable Ministers, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. I welcome you all to our August plenary.
2. Last week the second anniversary of the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan passed relatively unnoticed.
3. Our perception at the time of the signing of the Peace Agreement in August 2015 was that it had ended a tragic internal conflict that had threatened to tear Africa’s youngest nation apart and it was hoped that disagreements amongst the Parties over substantive issues had been resolved.
4. The Peace Agreement brought JMEC into being and we believed that our task would be simply to oversee and guide its implementation by the TGoNU, including the adherence by the Parties to agreed timelines.
5. By now the Peace Agreement should have achieved considerable progress towards improved security and governance in this country. From day one, however, we have had to persuade the Parties to implement each and every task in accordance with the Peace Agreement.

6. Disagreements between the key principals and the lack of any appetite for compromise, slowed progress to a standstill and led to a growing tension in Juba that ultimately resulted in the violence of July 2016 and its continuing repercussions. Two years on since the signing of the Peace Agreement there has been little meaningful progress in its implementation.
7. Since July 2016, we, as JMEC, have remained profoundly shocked by the rampant hostilities across the country and the rapid deterioration of the political, security, humanitarian and economic situation in South Sudan. As a result, we are now rightly absorbed in a process to restore and revitalise the prominence of the Peace Agreement. I shall return to this later.
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
8. Since our last meeting in July, the security situation in the former Upper Nile State has worsened due to the recent offensive operations by forces of the SPLA-IG against the SPLA-IO (Machar) in Matthiang and Pagak.
9. I condemn all the violence that has occurred in and around Pagak over the past month and urge that military operations cease immediately. I also urge all Parties involved to facilitate CTSAMM’s access to investigate and report on the situation in Pagak.

10. In this month that we have marked World Humanitarian Day, tens of thousands of people in Upper Nile have been forced to flee their homes, and humanitarian aid workers had no choice but to relocate from the area and suspend delivery of support to those in need.
11.This cycle of violence, displacement and deprivation of humanitarian support has been repeated around the country over the past year and has led to untold misery among those who seek only to live peacefully and provide for their families.
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
12. More generally, CTSAMM continues to receive reports that all Parties are carrying out serious breaches of the Permanent Ceasefire across the country and as a result the suffering of the South Sudanese people continues without remission.
13.In the majority of CTSAMM violation reports the same recommendation is made but ignored: that leaders must ensure adherence to the provisions of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements.

14. Offensive military campaigns like those seen now in Pagak should not be taking place, especially after the recent unilateral declaration of a ceasefire by H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan. An immediate restoration of the Permanent Ceasefire is needed to ensure that recommendations are implemented and the violence ends.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
15. I commend the Transitional National Legislative Assembly for electing its representatives for the first time to the East African Legislative Assembly, an important organ of the East African Community. This is a significant development for the country towards regional integration.

16. The Strategic Defence and Security Review Board is making slow progress in stage one of their responsibilities, namely the presentation of a strategic security assessment, a security policy framework and a revised defence policy. We hope that the one million US dollars pledged by the TGoNU will be delivered promptly to assist its activities.

17. We note that the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission is reporting the possible assembly and cantonment of opposition troops in five areas of the country but verification through CTSAMM will still be required.

18. However, there has been no movement on the establishment of a second training cohort for the Joint Integrated Police since the graduation of the first group in June.

19. On a positive note, I welcome the opening of the Joint Operations Centre and the conclusion of the initial training of operational managers and staff, under direct support from the United States. The opening of the Joint Operations Centre is a welcome achievement under the Peace Agreement. I now urge the security sector to prioritize its ulitization and to finalize implementation of the agreed, and long overdue, Transitional Security Arrangements for Juba.
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

20. On 22nd June the UN announced that the famine in South Sudan had eased. This is largely due to the financial and operational support provided by the international community towards the alleviation of this desperate humanitarian crisis. By mid-August 2017, the Humanitarian Response Plan had been almost two-thirds funded to the tune of 1 billion US dollars. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the international community for this resolute support. However, a funding gap of 600 million US dollars still remains.

21. The imminent threat of famine may have receded, but the number of people who are severely food insecure continues to rise. According to figures released by the UN, since our last meeting a further half a million more people are food insecure, many on the brink of famine.

22. Six million people – half of the entire population – are now severely food insecure, and the continuous displacement from the Equatoria region, the bread basket of South Sudan, might further increase future food insecurity as cultivation is disrupted.

23. The total number of displaced South Sudanese people is now four million, of which two million are internally displaced and two million are refugees in neighbouring countries. The UN continues to report the occurrence of gross human rights abuses, in the form of indiscriminate killings, rape, sexual violence against girls, boys, women and men, and the destruction of property.

24. Although famine has been averted for now, the overall humanitarian situation remains dire and there is no room for complacency. Humanitarian access is still frequently hampered and according to recent UN OCHA figures, the number of reported humanitarian access incidents rose from 89 in May to 136 in July 2017.

25. I am encouraged, however, that immediately following our last plenary, JMEC organised and hosted a joint Humanitarian Affairs Discussion Forum, with the participation of the TGoNU, humanitarian community and donors, to discuss steps in reducing the impediments to delivery of humanitarian assistance. I hope that the outcome of the Forum will contribute to improved humanitarian access in line with the provisions of Chapter III of the Peace Agreement.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

26. On the economy, I welcome the progress made by the TGoNU in reducing the severe level of economic instability experienced since 2016. High levels of borrowing from the Central Bank had contributed to increased inflation and exchange rate depreciation. This borrowing has now been substantially reduced. The pursuit of economic stability must continue to provide a framework for economic recovery.

27. Strengthening oil prices have helped government revenue evolve more favourably than had been anticipated, but revenue growth continues to be limited by low oil production, poor prospects for increasing oil production in the near future and low levels of non- oil revenue. In that regard I welcome the efforts of the TGoNU to increase revenue performance by pushing ahead with the establishment of a fully functional National Revenue Authority.

28. To further streamline spending and increase budget efficiency I would urge the TGoNU to continue with its plans to unwind the petrol subsidy and to pay down the arrears owed to public sector workers and suppliers of goods and services. Indeed it is critical to lay the foundation for sound budget management and economic growth, both of which are key components in the realization of the implementation of Chapter Four of the Peace Agreement.

29. I must again stress that an urgent resolution to the conflict in South Sudan is a necessary condition to strengthen and consolidate economic stability while beginning the huge task of creating conditions for broader economic growth and development. This will necessarily include increasing agricultural production, improving oil and other revenue sources, and encouraging growth in the rest of the private sector, particularly the service sector.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

30. I regret to note that the preparatory work by the multi-stakeholder committee on consultations on the Commission on Truth, Reconciliation and Healing has not progressed beyond that which I reported last month. This committee has not conducted further awareness raising missions as planned, partly due to the lack of resources.

31. On the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, I am happy to report that the African Union Commission Office of the Legal Counsel and the TGoNU held preliminary consultations in Juba and Addis Ababa to discuss the draft legal instruments necessary to establish the Court. I am informed by the African Union Commission that an agreement on the legislative framework for the establishment of the Court could be complete by the end of October 2017.

32. I urge the African Union Commission and TGoNU to maintain the momentum achieved over the last few weeks and move to establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan as soon as possible. As I have said before, accountability and justice are important building blocks for peace and reconciliation, and the Hybrid Court will constitute a cornerstone in building accountability and the rule of law for this Republic.

33. A new Permanent Constitution is a pre-requisite for the conduct of elections at the end of the Transitional Period. Even though we are out of time, and rightly in pursuit of revitalization and revision of timelines, the initiation of a Permanent Constitution–making process remains a priority. The new constitution will embody the aspirations of the people of South Sudan and establish a benchmark for democratisation and the rule of law.

34. It is a matter of regret, therefore, that even the process of incorporating the provisions of the Peace Agreement into the Transitional Constitution remains outstanding – it is now four months since the Constitutional Amendment Bill was handed over to the TGoNU by the National Constitutional Amendment Committee. I urge the TGoNU to finalise this process immediately and demonstrate its commitment to the Peace Agreement.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

35. The six JMEC Working Committees are all meeting on a regular basis and since the last plenary, collectively, they have met twelve times.

36. I should stress that the tasks of these Working Committees are not only to monitor and evaluate each chapter but also to provide advice and recommend remedial actions to be undertaken by the TGoNU and other bodies responsible for implementation of the Peace Agreement.

37. Currently all Working Committees are in the process of preparing and adopting an evaluation of the current status of the Peace Agreement, chapter by chapter, with clear recommendations ahead of the High Level Revitalisation Forum.

38. To this end, a JMEC Evaluation Workshop will result in a final evaluation report which I will forward to the Chairperson of IGAD as JMEC’s contribution to the IGAD High Level Revitalisation Forum.
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

39. I will now return to the issue of the IGAD-led High Level Revitalisation Forum for the Peace Agreement.

40. We will all recall that the IGAD Council of Ministers met on 24th July 2017, for the first time in Juba. In their Communique that day, the Council of Ministers empowered the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan to coordinate the revitalization process including all stakeholders and institutions charged with the responsibility for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. The Council also urged all South Sudanese stakeholders to embrace the objectives of the High Level Revitalisation Forum and collaborate with the IGAD Special Envoy to achieve a positive outcome.

41. It is essential to stress a number of issues regarding this Revitalisation Forum in order to avoid any misunderstandings:

i. The Revitalisation Forum is an IGAD initiative mandated by the Summit of Heads of State and Government and executed by the Council of Ministers through the office of the new IGAD Special Envoy. Our role, as JMEC, is to support IGAD in its efforts to convene this Forum.

ii. Whilst the Forum sets out with three objectives – 1) to reinstate the Permanent Ceasefire; 2) to reinstate full and inclusive implementation of the Peace Agreement; and 3) to develop revised and realistic timelines for implementation towards elections at the end of the transition period – the outcomes of the Forum are not pre-determined.

iii. It will be for the Parties and estranged groups to determine and commit to the outcomes of this Forum. After all, in the end, the responsibility for the implementation of the Peace Agreement lies squarely with these same Parties.

iv. This is a Forum through which to explore options that can restore the prominence of the peace process taking account of current realities. It is our hope that this revitalisation process will be pursued in the spirit of peace, inclusivity and compromise.

42. In JMEC’s perspective, for the Revitalisation process to succeed and for effective implementation of the Peace Agreement to be achieved, there is need for demonstrable political will by the Parties and estranged groups to be inclusive and to accommodate one another politically, rather than defeat each other militarily.

43. We must all speak with “one voice” to the leaders of South Sudan and align our actions. There should be clear consequences for intransigent groups, spoilers and violations. The Parties must commit to adhere to any revised timelines and implementation schedules and there is need to determine and secure adequate funding for implementation of the revitalised Peace Agreement.

Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

44. Over the past week, there has been some unfortunate confusion and dispute over the deployment of advance elements of the Regional Protection Force. One impact of this dispute was the temporary grounding of all UN flights which had a direct impact on the operations of CTSAMM. This is deeply regretable and I urge TGoNU to resolve issues with UNMISS swiftly and facilitate the deployment of this force without further hindrance, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2304 (2016).

45. To that end, I further urge IGAD to urgently convene the meeting between the Chiefs of Defence Forces of the Troop Contributing Countries, the TGoNU, and UNMISS as specified in the IGAD Communique of 12th June 2017. This meeting has not yet taken place and as a result, key issues affecting the practical deployment of this force have not been addressed and serious challenges are arising.

Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

46. I conclude with the following recommendations for this Plenary:

a. We demand a total cessation of violence around the country and a commitment by all parties and groups to pursue a political path to reconciling their differences; we further urge all parties to the Peace Agreement to facilitate access to CTSAMM to conduct their work;

b. We welcome and commit to the revitalisation of the implementation of the Peace Agreement, and call upon all parties and estranged groups to seize this opportunity and make concrete proposals for consideration at the Forum;

c. In line with the Communique of the IGAD Summit of 12th June 2017, we urge IGAD to convene the meeting between the TGoNU, UNMISS and the Chiefs of Defence of the Troop Contributing Countries with regard to the deployment of the Regional Protection Force. We strongly recommend that this meeting be held in Juba.

d. We urge the TGoNU to immediately conclude the Constitutional Amendment process, and to initiate the Permanent Constitution-making Process;

e. ABOVE ALL we demand a sustained improvement of the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance; and finally,

f. We urge full cooperation of all Parties and groups to fulfil the mandate of the Revitalisation Forum and I call upon the EU and IGAD to urgently convene the JMEC Partners Forum to discuss and commit support for the revitalisation process.

47. I expect this Plenary to:

a. receive a briefing from the TGoNU on recent progress made in implementing the Peace Agreement;

b. receive an update from TGoNU and UNMISS on the current humanitarian situation, in particular on steps taken to facilitate unfettered humanitarian access;

c. receive summary reports on the status of the various Boards and Commissions of the Peace Agreement and the progress towards their objectives; and,

d. welcome the progress that is being made by the various JMEC Working Committees, and commend the Chairpersons and members for their commitment and contributions.

48. Finally, I take this opportunity to thank all our partners in the 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 appeal for full support for the revitalisation process.

49. May God bless us all and continue to guide us in the relentless pursuit of peace.

I thank you.

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