Statement delivered to the IGAD Council of Ministers 59th Extra-Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia by H.E. Festus G. Mogae Chairperson of JMEC on 17th December 2017

Sunday, 17 December 2017 09:01

Chairperson,

Honourable Ministers,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

1. Thank you for your kind invitation to brief you all today. It is an important meeting as we look to end the year on a positive note for South Sudan.

 

2. I would like to begin by commending the IGAD Council of Ministers for your leadership at this critical time and for your commitment to advancing peace in South Sudan through the mandate given to you by the IGAD Heads of State and Government to urgently convene a High Level Revitalisation Forum. I would also like to congratulate Ambassador Dr. Ismail Wais, the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, for his determined approach to this complex and difficult process.

 

3. Your meeting here today is yet another milestone in the revitalization process that has been six months in the making. The end of the beginning, if you will. It is a display of collective commitment that will reassure the people of South Sudan of your determination to address their desire for peace and stability.

 

4. As I have said before, the Peace Agreement can recover from the turmoil of the past eighteen months, but for this to happen we must first take stock of the current situation, review progress to date and identify the key challenges that restrain comprehensive implementation of the Agreement. Of particular note, we must address the violations of the Permanent Ceasefire, lack of accountability for spoilers and violators, slippage in the implementation timelines, a lack of dedicated funding to the implementation of Peace Agreement, and the need for inclusive governance arrangements.

 

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

5. At my last meeting with H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chairperson of IGAD, I briefed him on recent JMEC engagements and activities and our support to the IGAD Council of Ministers and the Special Envoy.

 

6. I reinforced the One Voice message, and the need for the region to approach revitalisation unified and with strength of purpose. Collectively, it is crtitical that the IGAD Heads of State and Government prevail over the South Sudanese leadership to rethink the current trajectory of the country and take the necessary steps to restore peace and inclusive governance.

 

7. I also shared with the Prime Minister my priorities for the revitalisation process – priorities required to get the Peace Agreement back on track. I underlined my hope that the revitalisation process will achieve the following:

a. A cessation of all hostilities and a renegotiated permanent ceasefire that includes all armed groups;

b. An inclusive political process which brings together all Parties and estranged groups;

c. Revised Transitional Security Arrangements and timelines with robust verification and enforcement mechanisms;

d. An overall enforcement mechanism that includes accountability measures for spoilers and violators;

e. Clear measures to address the current dire humanitarian situation and facilitate eventual voluntary return of internally displaced persons and repatriation of refugees;

f. Specific reforms that ensure the conduct of credible, free and fair elections at the end of a transitional period;

g. And finally, dedicated funding for implementation of the revitalised Peace Agreement.

 

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

8. Over the past nine months we have consistently posed three key questions that have coalesced our thinking – how do we stop the fighting, how do we stop people starving and how do we restore inclusivity to the implementation of the Agreement? In combination with our One Voice message, these thoughts have played their part in leading to this Forum.

 

9. In parallel, the JMEC Working Committees have carefully assessed implementation of the Peace Agreement and the JMEC evaluation report, delivered to you all two months ago, clearly demonstrates the necessity for revitalisation.

 

10. Briefly, I should like to reiterate to you some of the principal observations and recommendations from our report:

 

a. Observations:

 

i. The political, security, humanitarian and economic situation in South Sudan remains precarious and not conducive for the full implementation of the Peace Agreement.

 

ii. The renewed conflict since July 2016 and the escalation of armed violence, the flight of key opposition figures and the emergence of new armed and political opposition has undermined the credibility of the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

 

iii. Continued conflict exacerbates a worsening economic and humanitarian situation and is an impediment to inclusive political, social and economic progress in the country.

 

iv. Gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law continue unabated and access to humanitarian relief continues to be inconsistent.

 

v. Since July 2016 there have been new political developments, including splits within some Parties to the Agreement and the flight of Dr. Riek Machar and other key opposition leaders, which has undermined inclusive implementation of the Peace Agreement and the credibility of the current peace process.

 

vi. The TGoNU has faced a number of impediments to implementation including financial constraints, weak technical capacity and a lack of effective coordination, particularly in cases where implementation requires cooperation across ministries. But it is also evident that insufficient political commitment and poor prioritisation is holding progress back.

 

vii. The continued lack of accountability and prevailing impunity undermines efforts towards reconciliation, healing and recovery.

 

viii. Furthermore, the governance reforms prescribed in the Peace Agreement are undermined by the non-implementation of key provisions of the Peace Agreement, including those in Chapter Six. A Permanent Constitution is a pre-requisite for reforms including the holding of elections at the end of the Transitional Period.

 

b. Recommendations:

 

i. All Parties to the Agreement and estranged groups must continue to be pursuaded to embrace and participate genuinely in the revitalisation process.

 

ii. The IGAD High-Level Revitalisation Forum must agree on specific steps and reforms to be implemented within prescribed timelines as a pre-condition for fair and democratic elections at the end of the Transitional Period.

 

iii. There must be an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to all forms of violence.

 

iv. Free and unhindered humanitarian access and the security of all major corridors and trading routes should be ensured.

 

v. The enactment of the Constitutional Amendment Bill (2017) should be expedited and the Permanent Constitution making process should commence immediately.

 

vi. IGAD, in collaboration with the AU and the UN, should put in place mechanisms to enforce compliance.

 

vii. The AU and the TGoNU should resolve issues surrounding the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and provide relevant support to the comprehensive transitional justice and accountability efforts in South Sudan. The TGoNU should also establish all other transitional justice institutions within the timeframe provided in the Agreement.

 

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

11. I would like to say that I am very impressed by the quality of work produced by the Special Envoy and the Taskforce. I have now seen the range of views and perspectives from our colleagues in the TGoNU and all other stakeholders as contained in the pre-Forum consultation report. Within the proposals submitted there will without doubt be some valuable inputs that will give the Peace Agreement a new lease of life and restore hope to the people of South Sudan.

 

12. Throughout this revitalisation process, I call upon us all to remain focused on the desperate plight of the people of South Sudan. For them, we must stop the fighting, end the violence, deal with criminality, prevent sexual and human rights abuses, reduce human suffering and address the economic crisis. The consequences of failure do not bear thinking about.

 

13. Progress of any sort is only possible within a peaceful and secure environment. It is simply not possible to overstate the fundamental necessity for an immediate cessation of all hostilities. Without that, we stand no chance of stemming the tide of displacement, enabling unhindered delivery of aid to those in need or contemplating the return of IDPs and refugees to their homes.

 

14. I reiterate my call to all South Sudanese stakeholders that, as they come to the table in search of a sustainable political solution, they must renounce violence and demonstrate political will to compromise and accommodate one another.

 

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

15. I hope that this Council will remain united under one voice and encourage the South Sudanese leadership to seize this opportunity to restore the Peace Agreement to centre stage. I appeal to IGAD to be resolute, without fear or favour, in their determination to ensure the success of the revitalisation forum. This is a huge opportunity that cannot be wasted or squandered.

 

16. I should also like to underline the important role to be played by the international community, especially the African Union and the United Nations, in support of this IGAD-led process.

 

17. To conclude, I take this opportunity to thank the TGoNU, the 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, and appeal for full support from everyone for this revitalisation process.

 

18. Finally I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May God bless us all and continue to guide us in the relentless pursuit of peace in South Sudan.