This Report on the status of implementation of the Pre-Transitional tasks 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 October to 31st December 2019. Highlighted in the report are important meetings that took place aimed at adding impetus to the nearly stalled R-ARCSS implementation process including that of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, the IGAD Council of Ministers, Parties to the Agreement and the African Union Peace and Security Council.
Ultimately the IGAD consultations resulted in the agreement to extend the Pre-Transitional Period by an additional 100 days from 12th November 2019. This decision was based on the non-resolution of critical outstanding issues relating mainly to the determination of the number of states and their boundaries; and the screening, training and redeployment of at least 83 000 Necessary Unified Forces (NUF).
The Permanent Ceasefire between the signatories of the R-ARCSS held throughout the period under review, underscoring their commitment to the Agreement. However, the long-simmering tension between clans of the Lou Nuer in the Maiwut region of Upper Nile developed into open conflict following the defection of the former SPLA-IO General James Ochan to the South Sudan Peoples Defense Forces (SSPDF). Of some concern is the continuing occupation of 24 civilian centres of which 23 is by the SSPDF and 1 by the SPLM/A-IO, and the seeming indifference to rectify this violation of the R-ARCSS.
As the Permanent Ceasefire continues to hold, there has been a notable increase in freedom of movement, which has prompted the voluntary returns of IDPs and refugees back to their homes. UNMISS has reported the return of over 600 000 IDPs since the signing of the R-ARCSS. However, concern is being expressed by members of the international community, about the need by all Parties to the Agreement to guarantee the continued protection of civilians. There were attacks on NGO staff in Morobo County, Yei River State in which three (3) aid workers were killed. Also, serious clashes broke out between the Gak and Manuer communities in Jonglei, resulting in fatalities and serious injuries to civilian personnel.
Concerning the economy, the exchange rate weakened markedly through the 2018/19 fiscal year largely driving price developments with annual inflation reaching 170 per cent in October 2019 before falling to 70 percent in December 2019. The weakened and volatile exchange rate and the ensuing inflation performance have impacted market conditions negatively by creating uncertainty and risks for producers, traders and consumers. At the same time, oil production has stabilised at around 170 000 to 180 000 barrels per day with the world oil price about 10 percent above that projected in the country’s budget.
On the number of States and their boundaries, several political initiatives with the Parties to the Agreement were undertaken following the recommendations of the Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) to the IGAD Executive Secretary as well as the decision of the IGAD Council of Ministers. In December, H.E. David Mabuza, the Deputy President of South Africa engaged the Parties in direct talks in an attempt to reach consensus. The consultations ended without an agreement and it was agreed that discussions would continue in the weeks ahead.
On the critical issue of the registration, screening, selection, training and redeployment of the NUF a total of 76,160 personnel were registered in the10 barracks (SSPDF) and 25 cantonment sites (SPLM/A-IO and SSOA). Of this number approximately 16 000 are SSPDF and 60 000 SPLA-IO and SSOA forces. Beyond the registration, however, not much more was accomplished. One of the main contributory factors was the late disbursement of resources to the security mechanisms. Even then, the amount of US $15.1 million they received was substantially less than that previously budgeted and deemed needed to complete the process during the 100 days extension.
With regards to the other outstanding Pre-Transitional tasks, the Parties should pay close attention to the submission of their TNLA representatives’ nominees to the NCAC in a timely manner. With less than two months to go before the scheduled formation of the R-TGONUthe process should already be well underway. At the same time, the government should quickly enact the Constitutional Amendment Bill and the other laws previously reviewed by the NCAC.
This is important in facilitating a smooth transition to the formation of the R-TGoNU. Finally, the SDSR Board must work to complete the Strategic Security Assessment while developing the security policy framework and conducting an analysis of the operational capabilities of the national army and security forces.
The RJMEC leadership in carrying out its mandate continued to effectively engage key stakeholders on the pace and status of implementation of the Pre-Transitional tasks still outstanding. This included briefing consultations with the Executive Secretary of IGAD, separate consultations with the Parties to the Agreement, the Stakeholders and the Regional guarantors and diplomatic community, the Africa Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), and meetings with H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan and Dr.
Riek Machar, Chairperson of the SPLM/A-IO.