Saturday, 27 January 2018 13:04


Honourable Ministers,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be here with you all today and I thank you for the kind invitation to brief you. In the short time since we last met a great deal has happened – some good, some not so good but 2018 has got off to a very rapid start, with high expectations for what must be achieved in South Sudan.

The successful convening of the High Level Revitalisation Forum just before Christmas was a huge and welcome step forward. A platform for inclusive, political dialogue has been established through which the challenges that confront us can be addressed and resolved.

I welcome the constructive engagement of all the parties and participants and trust that this will be sustained as we continue to make progress. I must congratulate Ambassador Dr. Ismail Wais, the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, for his determination in this matter.

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

The first phase of the Forum dealt with the critical issue of bringing violence in South Sudan to an immediate halt. And so, like you all, I am pleased that within four days of convening, a comprehensive Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access was signed by all parties on 21st December 2017.

According to the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) this new cessation of hostilities has had a generally positive effect on reducing the overall level of violence in the country. However, I am disappointed to note that within weeks of its signing, this agreement has been violated by no less than three of the signatory parties.

Since the 24th of December 2017, when the agreement came into effect, fighting and troop movements have been reported in Central Equatoria, Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile States, causing further displacement of civilians. CTSAMM quickly published reports on two outbreaks of violence, in Koch and Mundri, apportioning blame to SPLA-IO (Machar) and SPLA-IG respectively. The Chairman of CTSAMM has advised me that a number of other incidents and alleged violations are currently under investigation and I hope to receive further reports very soon.

I condemn the violations and call upon all signatories to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to disseminate the terms of the agreement to their subordinate commanders and ensure immediate and consistent compliance.

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

In recent days, statements have been made in the media by the Transitional Government of National Unity which, whether intentional or not, have the potential to undermine public confidence in regional and international peacekeeping efforts. In response, I have had cause to publicly demand full support for CTSAMM.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind us all that CTSAMM’s teams are the direct representatives of IGAD and the wider international community for the purpose of verification of ceasefire compliance in South Sudan and as such they deserve full respect and total cooperation.

I would also like to stress that they monitor and report with complete impartiality. Their reports are based on fact, not heresay or rumour, and they apportion blame only when the evidence gathered allows them to do so. There is always room for improvement in the management of their operations but it is deeply regretable that anyone should seek to undermine their integrity and commitment.

This week CTSAMM has conducted a workshop here in Addis Ababa with all the signatories, to put in place the practical mechanisms and cooperation required to deliver and enforce this cessation of hostilities agreement.

I commend CTSAMM for taking the lead on this and all the signatories for their participation. Furthermore, I urge the parties to cooperate fully under the terms of the Agreement so as to ensure unhindered access to the monitoring and verification teams in the field.

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

As we begin this new year, I remain firmly of the belief that the revitalisation process provides us all with the most effective platform upon which to confront and resolve the severe security, governance, economic and humanitarian crises that continue to overwhelm South Sudan.

The Forum will convene again on 5th February and will continue its systematic review and invigoration of the Peace Agreement. It is beholden upon us all to keep our faith in this process and support it with all the resources at our disposal.

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

The speed and alacrity with which some parties and individuals violated the cessation of hostilities agreement forces us all to confront, in much greater detail, the key issue of compliance.

We cannot stand by as South Sudanese leaders sign an agreement one day and authorise or allow its violation with impunity the next.

For the revitalisation process to be successful there must be a clear understanding among all South Sudanese leaders of the consequences of non-compliance and the determination of IGAD to ensure that agreements are complied with.

Articles 14.2 and 14.3 of the current cessation of hostilities agreement provide that the Chairperson of JMEC shall report any serious breaches to the TGoNU, IGAD, AU Peace and Security Council and UN Security Council for their action.

The actions refered to may include the measures decided by the 28th Extraordinary Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, issued on 7th November 2014, namely:

The enactment of asset freezes

The enactment of regional travel bans, and,

The denial of the supply of arms and ammunition, and any other material that could be used in war.

It is now time to revisit the range of practical measures that can be applied in earnest to those who refuse to take this process seriously. We must, with one voice, make clear the consequences to be faced by those who wilfully violate, spoil or derail the Peace Agreement.

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Briefly, on other matters, I can report that:

The National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC) continues to work diligently and expeditiously. We understand that the Constitutional Amendment Bill, submitted to the Minister of Justice back in April last year, is finally approved by the Council of Ministers but is yet to be tabled in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly for ratification.

Five security sector amendment bills were completed and submitted to the Minister of Justice two days ago, on 25th January, 2018. The NCAC is already in the process of reviewing the National Elections Act and Political Parties Act and has received submissions from parties and stakeholders which are now under consideration.

The humanitarian situation has seen very little improvement in recent months. Numbers of refugees and displaced persons remain at 4.1 million and UN-OCHA estimates that food shortages will leave around 5.1 million people unable to feed themselves properly by April.

Despite the November Presidential decree and the new Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, we await evidence of a significant improvement to humanitarian access around the country. In 2017 in South Sudan, there were 1,159 recorded humanitarian access incidents and 28 aid workers were killed. This is disgraceful. The High Level Humanitarian Oversight Committee meeting, anticipated since October, has still not taken place and as such the radical improvements needed in 2018 are nowhere in sight.

Improvements in economic stability in South Sudan have stalled. Annual inflation still hovers around 100 per cent and the exchange rate has started to weaken again after a period of stability. Payment of significant arrears in transfers to Sudan will require new borrowing if increased deficits and inflation are to be avoided.

Chairperson, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

As I said at the beginning, 2018 is full of expectation for South Sudan. Ultimate responsibility for the direction that the country takes lies with the Government and the parties, but IGAD, supported by the wider international community, has a critical role to play.

It is essential that IGAD remains engaged, committed and focused throughout the revitalisation process, so that the reinforcing and reassuring support of the African Union and the United Nations can be brought to bear effectively and efficiently. Together, we have to help the South Sudanese leaders find and sustain the spirit of compromise and engagement that will deliver long term peace and stability.

I urge this Council to maintain a unified approach, demonstrate One Voice, challenge those who peddle self-interest, and decide the application of real measures against those who violate the Agreement.

The IGAD Revitalisation Forum is a watershed and offers an opportunity that should not be wasted or squandered. I appeal to IGAD to be resolute, without fear or favour, in their determination to ensure its success.

I thank you.