S. Sudan “squandered opportunities” to end war in 2016, peace monitors say
December 19, 2016 (JUBA) – The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) decried opportunities missed to end war in South Sudan in 2016 and called for new commitment from warring parties.
The chairperson of JMEC, Festus Mogae, told representatives of the Transitional Government of National Unity and other peace partners over the weekend that they warmly welcome the national dialogue President Salva Kiir announced last week.
“We all know very well that our modest accomplishments [for the implementation of the peace agreement] have been outweighed by a number of squandered opportunities,” Mogae, also former Botswana president, said on Tuesday.
“Suffice to say, however, that, if it weren’t for the unfortunate events [clashes in Juba] of July, we may very well have achieved something more substantial,” he said.
Fighting between President Kiir and ex-First Vice-President Riek Machar’s forces in July threatened the peace agreement signed in August 2015 to end the conflict that started in December 2013. Machar fled Juba and has been replaced by relatively unpopular SPLM in Opposition leader Taban Deng Gai and fighting has expanded to Equatoria region for the first time.
The United Nations and United States have expressed concerns over the escalation of violence, warning of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Mogae said the parties to the conflict must approach the implementation of the agreement differently in 2017.
“The message is one of ‘peace and goodwill to all people’ and that must be central in our message to all the people of South Sudan. We must all commit here and now to making 2017 a year of peaceful progress,” he said.
He also reiterated JMEC’s support for the national dialogue announced by President Kiir.
“The President has seized a critical opportunity for national reconciliation; he has appealed for a spirit of forgiveness and togetherness; and he has set in motion a campaign to address the concerns and grievances of the South Sudanese people,” he said.
During Saturday closed door meeting, JMEC received reports from the coalition government, Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC), Joint Integrated Police (JIP) and Strategic Defence and Security Review Board (SDSRB).
However, despite the challenges that resulted from the resumption of conflict, Mogae said JMEC made progress by keeping the 2015 peace accord alive
“I invite us all to reflect on this past year – the achievements, the progress and also the many missed opportunities that have cost us dearly as we search for a durable peace in this country,” he said.