The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Amb. Ismail Wais (PhD) would like to congratulate the Parties and Stakeholders to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), the people of South Sudan as well as IGAD Member States and the International Community as we mark the first year anniversary of the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) on 22nd February 2020.
A year on, commendable progress has been made particularly in the implementation of governance related tasks under Chapter I of the R-ARCSS considering the confluence of natural calamities that have hit South Sudan ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding and locust invasion. Thus far, the Executive, composed of the Presidency and the Council of Ministers, has been formed; the Governors and Deputy Governors of the ten (10) States as well the Chief Administrators of the three (3) Administrative Areas have all been appointed; and agreements have been reached on the structures and allocation of remaining positions at the State and Local Government levels as well as in the three (3) Administrative Areas. The ceasefire is largely holding, which is creating a relatively conducive environment for the overall implementation of the R-ARCSS.
However, despite these encouraging progresses, a year after the commencement of the Transitional Period, some critical Pre-Transitional tasks which were carried over are yet to be completed. The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) has not been reconstituted; nomination and appointment of State and Local Government positions, other than the ones referred to hereinabove, are pending; and training and unification of forces is way behind schedule. With respect to unification of forces, as the recent joint visit by regional Ambassadors, RJMEC and IGAD to Maridi and Rajaf Training Centers revealed, the situation in the camps is deplorable with no adequate food, shelter, water and medicines. Moreover, there seems to be no clear timeline for the graduation of the first batch of Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) forcing many to abandon their camps. Therefore, no significant development has occurred with regard to Transitional Security Arrangements in the last one (1) year.
Defections and ensuing clashes between some forces is further eroding trust among the Parties and threatening the hard won peace in South Sudan. Cattle raiding and inter-communal conflicts also continue to claim the lives of civilians unabated and are alarmingly becoming more deadly and devastating posing additional threat to the already fragile security situation in the country.
Due to the delay in the implementation of Pre-Transitional tasks, implementation of Transitional Period tasks have either stalled or not commenced at all especially those under Chapters V and VI of the R-ARCSS on Transitional Justice and Permanent Constitution making respectively. In this regard, IGAD welcomes the recent decision of the South Sudan Council of Ministers authorizing the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs to start preparations for the establishment of Transitional Justice Mechanisms under Chapter V of the R-ARCSS and lauds the Minister’s quick decision and action in establishing a Taskforce to spearhead and coordinate the Ministry’s work in the implementation of Chapters V, VI and judicial reforms under Chapter I.
The humanitarian crisis and food insecurity have been exacerbated by natural and man-made disasters. According to reports from UNOCHA, in 2021 over 8.3 million people in South Sudan are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, that is hundreds of thousands more from last year. The economy is also severely affected by the cummulative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, plunging of oil prices and soaring inflation.
The ongoing talks between the Government of South Sudan and the non-signatory group, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio have registered encouraging results since January last year, and IGAD hopes that the talks will be concluded with positive outcomes within the shortest time possible.
IGAD also recognizes and appreciates the significant contribution that South Sudan is making to regional peace and stability by successfully hosting and mediating the Sudan talks as well as by offering to mediate between Ethiopia and Sudan to help peacefully resolve the ongoing border dispute between the two countries. This is one clear indication that besides the people of South Sudan the neighboring countries and the region at large are reaping the fruits of peace in South Sudan.
All in all, the last one year has witnessed a mixed-bag of progresses and delays with regard to the implementation of the R-ARCSS, and it is the right time for the Parties and Stakeholders of the R-ARCSS to take stock of achievements and challenges and have a genuine discussion and dialogue on the way forward. The Parties need to renew their commitment and redouble efforts towards a speedy and full implementation of the R-ARCSS in letter and spirit, including the adherence of the 35% women representation, within the resources available. In this regard, priority shall be given to unification of forces as that is the backbone of the R-ACRSS.
IGAD and the Office of the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan are committed and will continue providing and facilitating political and technical support, within their means and mandate, to the Peace Process in South Sudan, and also call upon the International Partners and Friends of South Sudan to continue and enhance their support towards the implementation of the R-ARCSS.
22nd February 2021
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia