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Report by H.E. Maj. Gen (RTD) Charles Tai Gituai Interim Chairperson of RJMEC on the status of implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan for the period 1st July to 30th September 2020

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Executive Summary

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 July to 30 th September 2020. The Report highlights the most recent progress on the Pre-Transitional activities carried over after the initial formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) on 22nd February 2020, as well as the tasks scheduled to be undertaken in the Transitional Period.
During the reporting period, very little progress was made on the implementation of these outstanding tasks, with exception of the issue of responsibility sharing at the State and local government levels. The Parties reached agreement on the allocations including positions for 10 Deputy Governors, 10 Speakers, their deputies and 51 members of the State Assemblies, 17 Ministers, 5 State Advisors, 6 Chairpersons, 79 County Commissioners, 35 County Councils, 6 Commission Deputies and 8 specialized committees in each State. However, full establishment of the governance structure at the sub-national level was delayed despite this initial agreement, relating mainly to eleven positions for County Commissioners including in the Ruweng and Pibor Administrative areas.
The Legislative arm of the RTGoNU is yet to be reconstituted. The 36th Extraordinary Meeting of the IGAD Heads of State and Government held in July 2020 appealed to the President of the Republic of South Sudan to dissolve the current Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) before 26th July 2020; and the Parties to reconstitute the TNLA within seven (7) days of its dissolution. However, the TNLA is yet to be dissolved and its expansion and reconstitution has been delayed. The Summit also called upon the R-TGoNU to take remedial measures to immediately rectify the alterations made to the Constitutional Amendment Bill. These measures were initiated by the NCAC in order to rectify the alterations and submitted to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for review.
The Permanent Ceasefire is largely holding without major skirmishes among the Signatories. However, during the third quarter minor clashes were reported between the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – In Opposition (SPLA-IO) elements in Northern Bahr El Ghazal. The clashes led to scores of fatalities and numerous casualties on both sides, as well as severe disruption and displacement to the civilian population. At the same time, inter communal violence continued in the Jonglei and Greater Pibor area, but was later brought under control by a High-level Committee appointed by the President and led by Vice President Wani Igga to resolve intercommunal disputes.
Violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement 2017 and the Rome Declaration (2020) by the SSPDF, SPLA-IO, and the National Salvation Front (NAS) continued in the Equatorias.
The armed clashes led to scores of civilian fatalities and the displacement of thousands of civilians in the Equatorias. There were also continuous sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) incidents linked to the fighting. In response, the SSPDF leadership launched a District Court Martial process to hold accountable members of the SSPDF who may have been culpable. As a result, 26 soldiers were convicted for offences against civilians and violations of the SSPDF military code of conduct. The soldiers found guilty of rape or sexual assault have been sentenced to a period ranging from 6 to 14 years in prison and dismissal from the SSPDF.
The food security situation in South Sudan remains grim with more than 7 million people acutely food insecure. The magnitude and severity of the food insecurity steadily rose as household food access became increasingly constrained by rising food prices, and the continued depreciation of the South Sudanese Pound (SSP). The situation was worsened by the impact of COVID 19, and impassable roads due to heavy rains. Food security was further threatened by an incursion of a swarm of locusts into eastern Equatoria, an outbreak of fall armyworms in Magwi County in Eastern Equatoria, and inhibited humanitarian access resulting from the armed clashes between SSPDF, SPLA/IO and NAS forces.
The RJMEC Interim Chairperson addressed virtual meetings of the IGAD Heads of State and Governments and the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), in which he outlined the current status of implementation and recommended that: the Parties move to speedily appoint the Upper Nile governor; the reconstitution of the TNLA be undertaken immediately; the training, graduation and redeployment of the Necessary Unified Forces move ahead; the authorities initiate dialogue at the grassroots level in order to address intercommunal violence; and the Africa Union continue to pursue establishment of the Hybrid Court. In addition, the RJMEC leadership held meetings with H.E Salva Kiir, President, Dr Riek Machar Teny, First Vice President, and the four Vice Presidents of the Republic of South Sudan.
There are ongoing risks and challenges to implementation of the R-ARCSS including the Covid-19 disruptions, lack of resources for redeployment of the NUF, intercommunal clashes, growing incidents of defections of the forces within the parties, persistent NAS attacks in the Equatorias, and limited efforts at tackling the Transitional Period tasks. To date, none of the 187 activities expected to be conducted during the Transitional Period has taken place. Worse, the two key Pre-Transitional tasks brought over into the Transitional Period that of the reconstituting of the TNLA and completion of the security arrangements; continue to trail implementation with no clear timetable for them being accomplished.
It is critical that the pre-transitional tasks as well as those still outstanding in governance, security, the economy, humanitarian assistance, and transitional justice issues be given serious attention. These provisions when implemented will pave the way for the state building process in South Sudan. Meanwhile, a good number of the deadlines have elapsed with little or no progress in implementation since the commencement of the Transitional Period.