This Report on the status of implementation of the activities of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) is prepared pursuant to Chapter VII, Article 7.9 of the R-ARCSS and covers the period 1st January to 31st March 2020. The Report highlights the events leading up to the end of the Pre-Transitional Period and commencement of the Transitional Period, including the Parties’ resolution of the number of states and their boundaries. It also focuses on the formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) on 22nd February 2020.
On 12th March 2020, President Salva Kiir Mayardit appointed thirty-five members of the Council of Ministers and ten deputy ministers. The Parties, however, failed to adhere to the 35 percent women participation in the Executive as only nine women (26%) were appointed to the Council of Ministers and only one woman (10%) among the deputy ministers. Given the nonadherence to the letter and spirit of the R-ARCSS, the RJMEC Interim Chairperson reminded the Parties of their obligation under the Agreement and urged that the issue be rectified.
Meanwhile, nominations to the country’s Transitional National Legislature (TNL) and to positions at the State and local government levels remain unfilled, thus delaying the completion of the RTGoNU’s structure and composition.
In March the Parties to the R-ARCSS held inter-party consultations in attempts to agree on the responsibility sharing at the State and local government levels. Unfortunately, the Parties were unable to agree on the allocations of the ten States and the three Administrative Areas of Abyei, Greater Pibor and Ruweng. Following the Parties’ failure to agree, Dr Riek Machar Teny, First Vice President and Chairperson of SPLM/A-IO, sought the intervention of the RJMEC Interim Chairperson to assist the Parties to break the deadlock. The RJMEC Interim Chairperson convened a consultative meeting of the representatives of the Parties to the R-ARCSS on 27th March 2020. The consultative meeting ended, however, without a breakthrough.
The delay in the resolution of responsibility sharing at the State and local government levels has severely constrained the formation of the TNL and threatens to halt the pace of progress in the implementation of the R-ARCSS. The Parties should therefore act quickly to make the necessary concessions, address the impediment and expedite the reconstitution of the remaining structures of the RTGoNU.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill (No.6) 2020 was assented to by the President on 19th February 2020, after ratification by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA).
The NCAC has, however, detected alterations in the Constitutional Amendment Act (No. 6) 2020, which were made after it was submitted to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of the ITGoNU. Also of concern are political appointments that were made for various offices, including the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Petroleum; six (6) Ambassadors; and the Governor and two (2) Deputy Governors of the Bank of South Sudan, which are inconsistent with the provisions of the R-ARCSS. The ITGoNU contends that the appointments made prior to the formation of the RTGoNU were within the powers of the President to do so. RJMEC agrees with these powers for the appointment of the Governor of Bank of South Sudan but expects a fresh appointment in conformity with the R-ARCSS Article 4.2.3.
The Permanent Ceasefire between the signatories of the R-ARCSS has continued to hold, signalling the Parties’ continuing commitment to the Agreement. However, there were reports of violent inter-communal clashes, cattle raids and revenge attacks, typically among youth, in the areas of Greater Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, Unity, Jonglei, Greater Upper Nile and Abyei, which have resulted in scores of death, injuries and destruction of property. The violence is partly attributed to the existing security vacuum arising from the delay in the restructuring and reconstitution of State authorities including the appointment of governors.
Screening, selection training and redeployment of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) was one of the outstanding tasks of the Pre-Transitional Period, which were carried forward into the Transitional Period. At least 78,500 personnel have been registered at the various cantonment sites, barracks and training centres. To date, in excess of 45,000 organized forces from both the Government and the Opposition forces have reportedly moved from cantonment sites to training centres in preparation for unification training and subsequent redeployment.
A total of 7.5 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance. Six million people were expected to be acutely food insecure in the period February – April 2020. This perilous food security and livelihood situation has worsened from the COVID-19 pandemic in the wake of lockdown measures set by the high-level task force on COVID-19 including the closure of businesses and income generating activities, which have left populations even more vulnerable. On the economy, the exchange rate of the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) against the US Dollar strengthened through the first two months of 2020. However, the collapse of the oil prices, reflecting the global economic downturn relating to the recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to a drastic decline in oil revenues. This will have a serious negative impact on the country’s budget and on the government’s capacity to finance the implementation of the R-ARCSS.
The RJMEC interim chairperson engaged key stakeholders in efforts to quicken the pace of implementation of the Pre-Transitional tasks and help to realise the formation of the RTGoNU.
The leadership provided briefings to the IGAD Council of Ministers and Africa Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), conducted separate consultations with the Parties to the Agreement, the Stakeholders and the Regional guarantors and diplomatic community, and held meetings with H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Dr Riek Machar, First Vice President, and the other members of the Presidency.
Overall the implementation of the Transitional Period started well and looked promising.
However, the few teething problems have slowed down progress and the Interim Chairperson of RJMEC is engaging with the Parties to break the deadlocks to allow for the implementation of the Agreement.