This Report of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) on the status of implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) covers the period from 1stJanuary to 31st March 2019. It highlights the prevailing political, security, humanitarian, and economic situation in the country while paying close attention to the progress being made by the Agreement institutions and mechanisms to implement their mandate as envisaged during the Pre-Transitional Period. In addition, it identifies incidents of compliance or lack thereof with the terms of the R-ARCSS. At the same time the Report underscores the engagement of the RJMEC leadership with the Parties, regional guarantors and stakeholders of the R-ARCSS. Finally, it offers some key observations and recommendations for remedial action to ensure effective implementation of the Peace Agreement.
The general political and security situation in the Republic of South Sudan continues to offer hope for a successful implementation of the R-ARCSS, underpinned by a commendable show of commitment and cooperation exhibited by all the Parties. There are also signs of economic normalcy returning. For the most part, there has been very few reports of fighting or active conflict in the country, except for heightened tensions around the Yei River area, and an upsurge in incidents of cattle rustling around Wau. There has also been reports of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in a few areas of the country, which has prompted action on the part of the authorities to address the issue.
Notwithstanding the generally favourable atmosphere, CTSAMVM continues to encounter denial of access by some of the Parties as it attempts to investigate alleged incidents of violations of the R-ARCSS. Humanitarian access impediments, although on the decline, also continue to occur in a situation where more than three-quarters of the population are reported to be food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance. Importantly the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) renewed the UN Mission (UNMISS) mandate, which remain focused on protecting civilians, creating the conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitoring and investigating human rights, and supporting the peace process.
During the current reporting period the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) successfully established the Technical Boundary Committee (TBC) and the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC). The TBC completed its work of listing, describing and mapping tribal boundary areas of 1st January 1956 currently in dispute as a consequence of the establishment of 32 States in South Sudan, and submitted its report to the IGAD mediation.
In the same period, the IBC began working on its mandate to consider the number of States of the Republic of South Sudan, their boundaries, the composition and restructuring of the Council of States and to make recommendations on the same. With the establishment of the IBC only one, the Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Commission remains to be reconstituted under the terms of the Agreement.
Regarding progress in implementing the prescribed pre-transitional tasks by the various Agreement institutions and implementation mechanisms, the RJMEC made very good progress in the dissemination of the R-ARCSS. It reprinted sixteen thousand copies of the R-ARCSS, and produced seventeen thousand six hundred copies of the summarized version, which have also been translated into some local languages, and Arabic, and these have been recorded for broadcast as public service announcements.
The National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) has played a critical role in coordinating implementation of the activities of the Pre-Transitional Period. It’s leadership and support were instrumental in the activities of most agreement institutions and mechanisms and in facilitating the return of opposition representatives to Juba. The NPTC developed a budget and solicited financial and other resources from the incumbent TGoNU and partners, which has enabled implementation of key activities.
The security mechanisms after a delayed start have begun implementation. In particular, the Joint Defence Board (JDB) after a series of confidence building measures in potential hotspots have put in place plans, together with the Joint Military Ceasefire Committee (JMCC), for cantonment and the unification of forces.
Phase One of the process entails twenty-five (25) sites dedicated to the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army - In Opposition (SPLA-IO) and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), and ten (10) major barracks assigned for the South Sudanese Peoples’ Defence Forces (SSPDF). Each of the 25 sites is planned to hold a maximum of 3,750 troops. SPLA-IO and SSOA troops are reportedly moving to locations closer to the proposed cantonment sites. The JDB has also developed a plan to identify and train a force of three thousand (3,000) South Sudan National Police Forces to assume the role of internal security of Juba.
The RJMEC leadership continues to support the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan in the quest to engage non-signatories to join in implementation of the R-ARCSS. RJMEC seconded advisors to develop a strategy for engagement of non-signatories and the RJMEC leadership accompanied the Special Envoy in talks with General Thomas Cirillo on two separate occasions in Addis Ababa and once with General Paul Malong in Nairobi. This in efforts to ensure the uninterrupted and smooth implementation of the peace process.
Other engagements included meeting with the leadership of the NPTC and the other Agreement institutions and mechanisms, holding discussions with the State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, the diplomatic community, and the leadership of the Parties to the Agreement.
Overall, the R-ARCSS provides the best available opportunity to ending the cycle of violence in South Sudan and building lasting peace. RJMEC is encouraged with the political will and commitment being demonstrated by the leadership of the Parties to the peace agreement.
Admittedly, there has been a slow start and some critical timelines have been missed, but all indications are that the Parties, with support from the partners, will be positioned to expedite and implement all pending and requisite tasks.
These may all not be possible within the prescribed Pre-Transitional Period but what is critical is to lay a firm foundation upon which the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) can be formed to take forward implementation of the peace agreement.
In light of the above the RJMEC encourages the Parties to proactively engage one another and together agree on the best way forward to expedite formation of the unity government; explore and avail additional resources to the NPTC and all agreement mechanisms; and adopt a unified and coordinated awareness campaign to send a strong message of unity of purpose to the people of South Sudan.
Also, the JDB should expedite the cantonment, training and deployment of unified forces; and the Parties should immediately reconstitute the DDR Commission, a key mechanism for dealing with former combatants who do not qualify to join the unified forces. Lastly, the RJMEC renews its call to the Parties to adhere to their obligations to refrain from acts and forms of SGBV and ensure protection and safety of women in areas under their control.
Finally, IGAD should expedite and conclude its engagements with the non-signatories before the end of the Pre-Transitional Period and prior to the formation of the unity government. RJMEC further recommends that IGAD convene a meeting of the Council of Ministers and a Summit to take stock of the status of implementation of the pre transitional tasks and make a determination on the way forward.