Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 29 January 2019

International Community should support South Sudan peace implementation

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By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi

The latest South Sudan peace deal signed between the government of President Salva Kiir, various armed and unarmed opposition groups and other parties, including the SPLM/A-IO led by the former First Vice President Dr Riek Machar, is facing implementation challenges and at the centre of it, according to officials, is lack of funds.

The pact dubbed Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) was signed in September last year through the Igad-led revitalisation process of the 2015 Peace Agreement (known as ARCSS) which remains largely unimplemented due to the resumption of armed conflict in July 2016, barely three months after a unity government was formed then.

Now the R-ARCSS provides for the establishment of a “Revitalised Government of National Unity (RTGoNU)” whose term of office shall be thirty-six (36) months, commencing eight (8) months after signing of the R-ARCSS (as of September 12) or on completion of redeployment of “necessary unified forces.”

According to the R-ARCSS, Kiir shall continue as President of the Republic of South Sudan, and Dr Machar shall assume the position of the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan respectively.

In addition to the First Vice President, the R-ARCSS provides that there shall be four (04) Vice Presidents in the Republic of South Sudan, two of whom shall be nominated by the incumbent government and one each by the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and the Former Detainees (FDs) respectively. The deal also provides for formation of a Five Hundred and fifty (550) member Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) to be shared among the parties: Incumbent TGoNU: three hundred and thirty two (332) members; SPLM/A-IO: one hundred and twenty eight (128) members; SSOA: fifty (50) members; OPP: thirty (30) members; FDs: ten (10) members.

Since gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan has been operating under a Transitional Constitution. Thus, in addition to implementing the R-ARCSS, one of the mandates of the RTGoNU is to oversee and ensure that a Permanent Constitution-making process is successfully carried out and completed before the end of the transitional period. The R-ARCSS provides that the Permanent Constitution shall establish a federal and democratic system of governance that “reflects the character of the Republic of South Sudan and ensures unity in diversity.”

The R-ARCSS stipulates that the RTGoNU shall hold elections sixty (60) days before the end of the Transitional Period in order to establish a democratically elected government. The Agreement, inter alia, contains provisions for various institutional and legal reforms.

- Why the International Community should support the R-ARCSS

After the July 2016 clashes, the international community continued to support “implementation” of the ARCSS even when several factions pulled out of the ARCSS and declared it “dead”. Throughout, very little has been implemented, if any, from the ARCSS and war intensified.

Then now why is the international community showing little or no support to the R-ARCSS even when there is much more inclusivity, some progress and a higher momentum compared to those in the post-July 2016 ARCSS era? It is a more complex issue than it appears. For example, responding to me on the above question, one fellow said, “That ‘continuation’ of funding by the international community was premised on their earlier commitment. Now that South Sudanese failed them in the first attempt, the international community is not intent on BEING DIDDLED for the second time and take note that the decision of the international community is INFORMED by South Sudanese individuals/groups KNOWLEDGEABLE of the goings-on…”

Well, I differ with the respondent in his reply. I do not agree with him that the international community was diddled in the post-July 2016 funding of the ARCSS. This is because the writings were very clear that the ARCSS was not being implemented during and after the July 2016 clashes. The region and the international community had their members representing them in the ARCSS Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and they continued to be part of JMEC and supportive of the same even when other parties to the Agreement pulled out or were exiled and declared that the deal had collapsed. From that time forward, the international community had the choice of pulling out from the Agreement when (if) they realised that they were being taken for a ride and that the ARCSS was not being implemented in letter and spirit. But they stayed in throughout. Anyway, if the international community had made a decisive move with respect to the status of the ARCSS, the situation in the Country would have been different: better or probably worse. But this is not a time for blame games. For it is good that the region and the international community spoke with one voice almost throughout the ARCSS revitalization process. As a result, now there is the R-ARCSS in place which is not so much different from the ARCSS, and, if implemented in letter and spirit, the R-ARCSS can lead to the same goal that the ARCSS was designed to achieve in the first place.

Substantively, there is no difference between the ARCSS and the R-ARCSS as far as the legal and institutional reforms stipulated in the two Agreements are concerned, save for the Permanent Ceasefire Arrangements provided for in the R-ARCSS, which again is a positive improvement if implemented.

One area that had raised concerns was Article 2.4.6 of the August 28th 2018 Initialled R-ARCSS which read, “The current monitoring and verification mechanism shall be restructured and reconstituted into the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM). It shall be led by Sudan and Uganda.” That article was seen as giving Sudan and Uganda control over South Sudan.

That Article 2.4.6 was changed in the final version of the signed R-ARCSS and now the Article simply reads, “The current monitoring and verification mechanism shall be restructured and reconstituted into the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM).”

The restructuring and reconstitution of the then monitoring and verification mechanism into the CTSAMVM have been done already, according to JMEC.

As per Article 2.4.8 of the R-ARCSS, the CTSAMVM Board membership shall comprise the representatives of:

· Three each from the warring parties (3x3=9);

· Former Detainees: one (1);

· Other Political Parties: three (3);

· Women’s bloc: one (1) and Other Women groups: one (1);

· CSOs: two (2);

· Youth: two (2);

· Business Community: one (1);

· Academia: one (1);

· Eminent personalities: one (1);

· IGAD: three (3);

· AU: one (1);

· China: one (1);

· Troika (United States, United Kingdom, Norway): one (1);

· UNMISS: one (1);

· IPF: one (1);

· EU: one (1);

Another area of the R-ARCSS that raised concerns was the signing and inclusion of the provision of the Khartoum Declaration on the protection of oil fields which the South Sudanese parties signed in June during the R-ARCSS revitalization process.

The R-ARCSS provides in its preamble that, the parties reaffirmed the commitments that they “have solemnly undertaken” in the Khartoum Declaration.

The Khartoum Declaration stipulates that the Government of South Sudan in collaboration with the Government of Sudan shall immediately rehabilitate the oil fields in Unity State (Blocks 1, 2, and 4) and Tharjiath (Block 5A), “and others as would be agreed upon, for the resumption and the restoration of the previous levels of oil production.”

Article 5 of the Declaration provides that “The security the oil fields in Unity State (Blocks 1, 2, and 4) and Tharjiath (Block 5A) is the responsibility of all South Sudan citizens. If need be, the Government of South Sudan, while undertaking its security duties, shall work in this regard in collaboration and coordination with the Government of Sudan…All the outstanding issues related to the oil sector, particularly on the cost of oil field rehabilitation, shall be technically assessed and economically valued by the relevant authorities of South Sudan and Sudan respectively…”

Those provisions did not go well with some South Sudanese and others. But is there really a need for alarm because of the abovementioned provisions? Maybe, but I do not see it.

It is also worth recalling that, it was the 32nd Extra-Ordinary Summit of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government that mandated President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir of Sudan to facilitate the Khartoum Talks to: “a. discuss and resolve the outstanding issues on governance and security arrangements including measures proposed in the (then) revised Bridging Proposal of the IGAD Council of Ministers; and b. discuss measures to be taken to rehabilitate the South Sudanese economy through bilateral cooperation between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan.” So here we are and the R-ARCSS was finally signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

It is also worth mentioning that only the United Nations, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Igad Countries, as well as the South Sudanese parties that signed the R-ARCSS.

Unlike the ARCSS, this time, the TROIKA (USA, UK & Norway), the European Union, the Peoples Republic of China, the IGAD Partners Forum (IPF) and the African Union High Level Ad-hoc Committee for South Sudan (the Republic of Algeria, the Republic of Chad, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of South Africa) have all not signed the R-ARCSS. This shows an indirect lack of moral support to the peace deal, to say the least.

As per the R-ARCSS, just like in the ARCSS, several of the above-mentioned Countries have memberships in bodies (mechanisms) to be formed (reconstituted) for the implementation of the R-ARCSS and they could play their role there, in ensuring that the Agreement is implemented for peace and reforms in the Country. However, unfortunately, sources say some of those Countries have not sent their nominees for appointments by Igad into the Independent Boundaries Committee (IBC) for the resolution of the contentious issue of States number in South Sudan. Now, the IBC has not been announced officially as per schedule and this has negatively affected the implementation of the R-ARCSS. This should quickly be rectified for the implementation of the Agreement to move on smoothly.

Like I said, substantively, there is no difference between the ARCSS and the R-ARCSS as far as the legal and institutional reforms stipulated in the two Agreements are concerned, these include: the process of the Permanent Constitution-making; the reforms in the Judiciary and in several legislation such as the Public Finance Management and Accountability Act 2011; review of Petroleum Revenue Act 2012; The Mining Act 2012; Petroleum Revenue Management Act 2012; National Revenue Authority Act 2017; Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009; National Audit Chamber Act 2011; review of legislation on land to, inter alia, address issues of land grabbing; review of the Non-Governmental Organizations Act, 2016, to ensure that it complies with international best practice in regulating the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in South Sudan; review of Political Parties Act, 2012; The National Elections Act, 2012; just to mention a few.

On the issue of funding, early this month, the UK special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Amb. Christopher Trott reportedly called on the parties to the R-ARCSS to come up with a budget “so that necessary assistance can be accorded to them for implementation of the peace agreement.”

Amb. Trott, according to Eye Radio, reiterated his government’s readiness to support the peace process, but only if they begin to see real progress on the ground. This is a positive gesture.

On his part, while urging foreign donors to fund implementation of the R-ARCSS, South Sudan deputy foreign minister Deng Dau Deng on Wednesday announced the government’s contribution of about $1.4 million for the peace implementation. That is a positive move from the government of South Sudan but the amount is far too small compared with the $114 million budget prepared for activities of the pre-transitional period. According to South Sudan minister of Cabinet Affairs, also Secretary of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC), Dr Martin Elia Lumoro the $114 million budget will be used to facilitate the work of the peace committees and implement security mechanisms.

It is indeed paramount that the South Sudanese parties lead the way in the implementation of the Agreement, as they expect support from the region and the international community.

As the UN Refugee Agency Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Amb. Mohamed Abdi Affey said in October last year, South Sudan will end up empty if the R-ARCSS fails. “If that agreement does not work, South Sudan will be empty of its population. Now it is not our intention to empty South Sudan. I think first of all the biggest responsibility lies with the leadership of South Sudan,” said Affey.

- Status of parties not signatories to the R-ARCSS

Last year, in early December, the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Amb. Ismail Wais met with members of the non-signatories of the R-ARCSS as mandated by the 66th Session of Igad Council of Ministers that was held in Addis Ababa on 16 November 2018.

The meeting was attended by the leader the National Salvation Front (NAS) Gen. Thomas Cirilllo, Gen. Fair Fatur and Mr Louis Danga of the South Sudan National Democratic Alliance, among others.

A press release published by Igad says Gen. Cirillo stated that his party was ready to continue the dialogue and engagement with IGAD and all the parties and stakeholders of South Sudan and agreed to abide by the December 2017 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access.

“We will continue to bring on board all parties to sign the agreement and leave no one behind. This is the best chance for sustainable peace to the conflict in South Sudan,” said Dr Wais as he assured Gen. Cirillo and his delegation of continued engagement with all the parties and stakeholders of the South Sudan process “in order to help find lasting peace.”

In December last year also, envoy Wais met with the leader of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF), the former SPLA chief of General Staff, Gen. Paul Malong. Gen. Malong agreed to observe the ceasefire agreement and declared that his movement is committed to pursuing a non-violent resolution to the conflict in South Sudan.

Moving fast to January 2019, we are yet to see the outcome of the engagements between the Igad envoy and the parties. The dialogue, however, is worth pursuing.

- Continued violence and challenges facing ceasefire monitors

Early this month, the South Sudan People’s Defence Force SSPDF said NAS killed 19 civilians and wounded eight others in a small village between Goroum and Wonduruba in Jubek State. NAS on their part said the massacre was done by the SSPDF after their “defeat” by NAS. So far there is no independently verified account of the incident.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMVM) Maj. Gen. Desta Abiche Ageno said the National Security Service (NSS) denied the CTSAMVM access to investigate the incident of the killings in Gorom.

“CTSAMM attempted to visit Gorom to complete the investigation on the reported incident, but were denied access by NSS at the Luri checkpoint,” Gen. Abiche said.

In mid this month, according to the Catholic Radio Network CRN, the spokesperson of the SSPDF Major Gen Lul Ruai said NAS is a threat to the implementation of the R-ARCSS. Gen. Ruai said the SSPDF will hunt down NAS since it is the mandate of the government to “protect its people”, the CRN reported. The SSPDF spokesperson also added that it would be in the “best interest” of the SPLA-IO to join forces with the SSPDF to “eliminate” NAS.

“We are going to have joint patrols in hot spots area…to protect this peace from anti-peace element namely, Thomas Cirilo who has been on the offensive,” Eye Radio quoted the spokesperson of SSPDF, Gen. Ruai as saying while accusing NAS of attacking civilians.

As quoted by Eye Radio, NAS spokesperson Suba Samuel responded saying, “All these accusations that they are making are baseless and do not have any sense. They are in a panic because the revitalized peace agreement they signed is not moving anywhere.”

On 23rd this month, Eye Radio reported that the interim Chairman of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission R-JMEC Lt. Gen. Augostino Njoroge said NAS leader was not abiding by the ceasefire deal which he signed in December 2017.

“I’m concerned to learn from CTSAM’s report from their 6th technical meeting that General Thomas Cirilo [the leader of NAS] is not observing the terms of the cessation of hostilities agreement which he signed in December 2017,” Eye Radio quoted Njoroge as saying.

On their part, NAS responded, describing Njoroge’s statement as “unbalanced”. “The statement by Mr Njoroge undermines the institution and will affect trust and confidence building in the entire peace process,” Eye Radio quoted NAS as saying.

Meanwhile, the CTSAMVM Chairperson Maj. Gen. Abiche said recent weeks have witnessed a military build-up and that there are multiple parties in close proximity, including both signatories and non-signatories to the R-ARCSS.

“The area in and around Yei Town continues to cause concern. The situation is complex and the command and control structure of some groups in the area is unknown at this time,” said Gen. Abiche in his opening remarks at the 3rd CTSAMVM Board Meeting on 22nd of this month.

He said CTSAMVM continues to observe unauthorised military movement in numerous locations throughout the country.

“The issue of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Bentiu also remains a huge concern and while reported cases of SGBV have dropped somewhat in recent weeks there is a serious break down of law and order in the area and the Parties continue to fail in their obligation to protect civilians,” said Gen. Abiche.

He said CTSAMVM continues to face limitations on freedom of movement in various locations throughout the country.

“The incident in Luri on the 18th December 2018, in which CTSAMVM monitors were assaulted and detained is just one example.

“We have also faced denial of access from the SSPDF and SPLA-IO when we have attempted to visit locations to conduct verification of forces as required by our mandate. The Luri incident is a very serious and grave violation of the peace agreement and we are continuing to urge the TGoNU to take action and hold the perpetrators accountable,” he added.

Gen. Abiche further disclosed that CTSAMVM has not deployed a national monitoring component due to lack of funds. “…our national monitors are yet to be deployed due to budget constraints. Specifically, there is a lack of budget for health and life insurance, accommodation as well as allowance (Out of pocket). We are working with the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and other Parties and stakeholders to explore all possible avenues to resolve this issue and we hope to report progress in this area very soon,” he said.

But the Chairperson of the CTSAMVM also mentioned some progress including the “first ever reported case of dis-engagement” of forces in Bill Payam, Unity State.

“I also want to make note of the fact that, having previously identified Wau as a hotspot area, we can report that over the last two months there have been no major incidents reported in that location.

“Across the country at the grassroots levels, the Parties are continuing to engage in confidence and trust building meetings. There is a growing momentum within the Parties to collectively find local level solutions to the issues they are facing on the ground,” Gen. Abiche said.

- How the International Community should support the R-ARCSS

The international community and partners should support the R-ARCSS in the following ways/under the following conditions:

1- The support ought to start with the signing of the Agreement. While any Country is free to choose whether to sign the Agreement or not, it would be prudent for the above-mentioned Countries which have not signed the R-ARCSS, to sign it, at least with reservations on the parts they may not agree with. Signing the R-ARCSS is crucial in giving weight to the Agreement and holding the parties accountable.

2- The relevant Countries mentioned above should voluntarily send their nominees to Igad for appointments into the IBC. Then the international community together with the parties and anyone concerned should pressure Igad to officially form the IBC so that the body catches up with the implementation schedules. A lot of the current tensions shall be no more once the states number and the tribal boundaries are amicably and justly resolved before the start of the transitional period, and that is still possible.

As the National Democratic Movement (NDM) chaired by Dr Lam Akol stated in a recent report warning Igad, “The consequences of not settling the controversial issue of the 32 States on R-ARCSS before the onset of the Transitional Period are too grave to be ignored.”

3- The government of South Sudan should be pressured to contribute a substantial amount for the implementation of the R-ARCSS, in addition to the $1 Million and SSP 100 Million (which is very little) that they have given on Wednesday 23rd. Thereafter, other donors should be able to come in and help. There is no reason for the government to allocate $1 Million and SSP 100 Million only, while it just gave out SSP 1.2 Million each to its nearly 400 MPs for peace dissemination, after giving the same MPs a total of $16 Million for buying cars about six months ago.

4- On 25th this month, German Ambassador to South Sudan Jan Hendrik was quoted by Eye Radio as saying, “In the past, a lot of money was put in the peace process, war broke out and so on. [But] all this money was lost.

“This country is in a very bad situation after this war. So, there are some lessons learnt here. I think we need to discuss, there needs to be more transparency on the public finances in South Sudan.”

Indeed the issues raised by the Ambassador are very crucial and deserve attention and appropriate rectifications. Up in this article, I have tackled the issue of the use of a lot of money in the past (on ARCSS) even when it was not being implemented in letter and spirit and I would not like to repeat myself.

However, on the issue of transparency on public finances, it depends: is it finances to (of) the government of South Sudan or finances for the peace implementation (the peace monitoring body, JMEC and the other ARCSS mechanisms)? If it finances to (of) the government of South Sudan, it is well known that there is a lack of transparency and accountability there. That is why the R-ARCSS, just like the ARCSS, provides for reforms of several institutions and legislation to fight corruption and enhance transparency and accountability. But that is going to be a process through the implementation of the R-ARCSS, as per the stipulated schedules, which we expect to happen during the transitional period as required by the Agreement.

Secondly, if it finances for the peace implementation (the peace monitoring body, JMEC and the other ARCSS mechanisms), we expect the envoys (donor Countries and the international community) to be better informed about how the money was (is being) spent since they (donor countries and the international community) have representatives who are part (members) of the JMEC and they have been attending JMEC meetings since its establishment. We, as the public, would like to know also but there is no published report on how the money was (is being) spent by the JMEC and its various bodies.

There are loopholes and vague provisions in both the then ARCSS and now the R-ARCSS. The R-ARCSS provides that The RJMEC shall oversee the work of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), the Economic and Financial Management Authority (EFMA), the Strategic Defence and Security Review Board (SDSRB), the National Elections Commission (NEC), and all other transitional institutions and mechanisms created by the R-ARCSS and that all those bodies and other institutions and mechanisms created by the R-ARCSS shall present regular reports to RJMEC.

Though the Agreement says the secretariat for RJMEC shall be independent and shall seek international administrative support, it also provides that the terms of reference of RJMEC shall be endorsed by the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Those were the same provisions of the then ARCSS but over the previous years of ARCSS “implementation”, there was never any terms of references of the then JMEC provided in the public domain.

What is very important on the topic under discussion here is that there is no explicit provision on how the JMEC (now R-JMEC) shall account for the finances it and the bodies under it receive for the implementation of the Agreement.

Article 7.9. of the R-ARCSS is vague as it simply says “the RJMEC shall brief regularly the Executive of the RTGoNU, and submit written reports, followed by detailed briefings, to the RTGoNU Council of Ministers, the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, the Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government, Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union and to the Secretary-General and Security Council of the United Nations on the status of implementation of this Agreement every three (3) months,” but there is nowhere that it talks about how funds shall be used.

What could be done now to remedy the situation since the R-ARCSS is already in force? It is simple since the donor countries also have representatives in the RJMEC. The donor countries should work with the RJMEC to adopt a formula for accountability for peace implementation funds and such a method should be able to regularly publish their financial reports to the public, for scrutiny and accountability. If they reject transparency and accountability, the donor countries should not fund the R-ARCSS implementation.

The issue of transparency on the use of peace funds are actions which the region and members of the international community (donor countries) can ensure through their memberships in the RJMEC.

In addition to the membership of the South Sudanese Parties, Stakeholders and Adherents stipulated in the Agreement, the RJMEC shall comprise the following:

A-Regional Guarantors, thirteen (13) representatives:

Ethiopia – one (1) representative;

Djibouti- one (1) representative;

Kenya – one (1) representative;

Somalia- one (1) representative;

Sudan – one (1) representative;

Uganda – one (1) representative;

The AU-HLAHC, five (5) each represented by one (1);

African Union Commission – one (1) representative; and

IGAD Secretariat – one (1) representative.

B-International Partners and Friends of South Sudan, seven (7) representatives:

People’s Republic of China – one (1) representative;

Norway– one (1) representative;

United Kingdom – one (1) representative;

United States – one (1) representative;

United Nations – one (1) representative;

European Union – one (1) representative; and

IPF- one (1) representative.

(See Article 7.2, Article 7.2.3, and Article 7.2.4 of the R-ARCSS on the composition of the RJMEC)

Back on the issue of transparency and accountability on the use of peace funds, with respect to the NPTC, the body entrusted with the function of oversight and coordination of the implementation of the activities of the Pre– Transitional Period in collaboration with the Incumbent TGoNU, as per ARCSS Article 1.4.7.2 read together with Article 1.4.3, there are some provisions for transparency in their work, which should be implemented in letter and spirit. For example, Article 1.4.7.4 of the R-ARCSS stipulates that the NPTC shall submit monthly written reports to Chairperson of the Reconstituted JMEC (RJMEC), the parties and other stakeholders.

Another relevant provision is Article 1.4.8 of the R-ARCSS which says “there shall be established a fund, to be drawn from government funds and contributions of donors, for the implementation of the activities of the Pre–Transitional Period. The fund shall be deposited by the Ministry of Finance and Planning of the Incumbent TGoNU in a special account in a bank agreed to by the NPTC. The NPTC shall manage the fund transparently and report on it monthly to the President of the Republic of South Sudan and to the Parties.” On this, while donating, the donors should give conditions that the NPTC regularly publishes the reports including to the general public for scrutiny and accountability.

5- Supporting the R-ARCSS should also be based on the conditions that the parties adhere to the terms of the Agreement, including the Permanent Ceasefire and the December 2017 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access (in the case of the Government vs. the non-signatories of the R-ARCSS i.e. NAS, SSUF/A, etc.)

Meanwhile, the dialogue by the Igad mediation on the inclusion of the non-signatories of the R-ARCSS should continue for an all-inclusive peace in the Country.

Recently, one of the non-signatories of the R-ARCSS, the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) called on the international donors to abstain from funding the implementation of the R-ARCSS until a new deal is reached.

“The flawed R-ARCSS needs to be re-opened to put the people first, address the root causes of conflict and re-make R-ARCSS for power sharing between the peoples of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr al Ghazal,” PDM’s leader Dr Hakim Dario said in a press statement.

Well, as dialogue is being pursued through the Igad process to bring on board the non-signatories of the R-ARCSS, the region, the international partners and all concerned should be brainstorming on what shall happen next in case the dialogue fails to bear success. What are the chances that the December 2017 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access would continue to hold in the absence of a final political settlement (Agreement) between the government and the non-signatories of the R-ARCSS? And until when shall it hold, given the fact that the other parties (R-ARCSS signatories) and the region are moving on with the implementation of the Agreement while the R-ARCSS non-signatories remain in the bushes of South Sudan or in the diaspora? What are the demands of the R-ARCSS non-signatories? How popular are those demands among the people of South Sudan? Is practically possible to incorporate those demands into the Igad-led process (R-ARCSS)? If yes, why not? If not, does it mean a full-scale war shall resume now or in the coming months (years)? Does it mean that the R-ARCSS is incapable of bringing freedom and lasting peace to the people of South Sudan? Those are all questions worth asking in this search for a comprehensive peace in South Sudan, though it is also the right of any party to enter willingly into an Agreement.

6- The government of South Sudan should ensure that reported incidents like the one in Luri on the 18th December 2018, in which CTSAMVM monitors were allegedly assaulted by the NSS are investigated and justice is delivered, in order to deter the occurrence of the same.

An independent and verifiable investigation by the CTSAMVM into the killing of 19 civilians and wounding of eight others in the village between Goroum and Wonduruba in Jubek State should be urgently carried out so that the perpetrators are held accountable.

On the other hand, the government of South Sudan should lift the state of emergency declared by President Kiir in some parts of the country during the time of the conflict. Political Freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of speech should all be guaranteed/allowed countrywide.

In the same spirit of peace, the government should beef up security in areas with cattle raids and deadly tribal or inter-tribal clashes. In Bieh State, at least 42 people had been killed and over 78 others wounded after armed men attacked cattle Keepers in Duachan and Kolabiel, officials say. While in Tonj, at least 105 people had been killed and 47 others wounded, also, after armed men attacked cattle keepers, an official said. Both incidents happened just within this month, while several others have happened over the recent months. That is totally unacceptable. The people are under government-controlled areas and is the obligation of the government to provide security for them. It is unacceptable that some parts of the Country would live in relative peace while others in perpetual deaths and violence. The government and the people should come up with policies to stop such deaths even if, as someone recently suggested, it means designating specific areas for grazing cattle and providing security in those areas in collaboration with the governments of such areas. These are all legitimate demands and the international community (donors) have more power to pressure the government of South Sudan into improving the situation in the Country, as the government seeks funding for the R-ARCSS implementation. The international community should use that power.

7- Therefore, as the international community and donor countries are being asked by the parties to fund the R-ARCSS implementation, they should pressure the government to release (free) or charge before competent court those of Dr Peter Biar Ajak and entrepreneur/philanthropist Kerubino Wol and any other person under such detention. The provision of funds by the international community should be based on such demands. It is neither Constitutional nor acceptable for a security service to detain individuals without a charge. Any person supporting such a system should know that it might be him or her facing such a detention one day. Our recent history is very clear on that.

Not only that, but from now onwards, the National Security Service NSS should adhere to the South Sudan Transitional Constitution which limits the NSS to information gathering, analysis and advice to relevant authorities (e.g. the Police.). Arrests and detentions are the work of the police. Implementation of an Agreement like R-ARCSS that seeks to reform the country requires an environment where people are not detained without charges for months.

Furthermore, efforts should as well be exerted to establish the whereabouts of lawyer Dong Samuel Luak and opposition official Aggrey Idri Ezbon who were abducted from Nairobi in January 2017 and remain missing up to date. Whoever is holding them should release them in the spirit of the peace implementation.

8- The government of South Sudan should guarantee/protect freedom of the media in the Country. This is very important as it is through a free media that the Agreement can be successfully implemented. The government must commit itself to respect press freedom. If at any time, there are continued attacks on the freedom of the press like it has happened recently in the case of the South Sudan Media Authority with Alwatan Newspaper, funding for the R-ARCSS implementation should not be given or should be withheld (if some has been given already.)

9- There is a need for the international community and people of good will to seize this chance by gradually fund some aspects of the peace agreement. This is a way to win against the anti-reform elements in South Sudan who want the Agreement to collapse for their selfish interests then they would cite lack of funding as a scapegoat for not implementing the reforms stipulated in the R-ARCSS. The funding should be moderate and should be offered stage by stage, depending on the progress in the implementation of the Agreement. Once there is no progress, the funding should be stopped immediately before wasting more money and efforts.

The author, Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist, is the former Managing Editor of Juba Monitor Newspaper and former Chief Editor of Bakhita Radio. He can be reached via his email: rogeryoron@gmail.com or his Twitter handle @YoronModi



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