BY H.E. FESTUS G. MOGAE
CHAIRPERSON OF JMEC
AT THE EXTRA-ORDINARY SESSION OF THE
IGAD COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
11 JULY 2016
- Over the past three days, we have watched helplessly the sad spectacle of South Sudan descending into open violence which has led to the loss of many lives, destruction of property and displacement of many civilians. The fighting in Juba was a culmination of violent incidents in Wau, Yei, Kajo-Keji, Raja and elsewhere, in all of which there was widespread loss of life and destruction of property.
- I convey condolences to the families of the victims of the recent violence across the country, and express the hope that humanitarian assistance will reach those affected.
- The ongoing armed conflict in South Sudan is regrettably a major setback in the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. This calls for urgent action by President Salva Kiir Mayadit and First Vice President Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon.
- In this connection, I have called on the parties to immediately declare ceasefire, an action which could ensure that the promise of peace is restored.
- Furthermore, and having continued to consult the two South Sudanese leaders during the past three days, I also express the hope that there could be an IGAD Summit of Heads of State and Government to be convened in Juba, at the earliest. I can confirm that the Summit has the blessings of the two leaders, and that the earlier the permanent ceasefire is restored, the better.
- As I reported to the African Union Commission Peace and Security Council on 30 June 2016, the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission (JMCC), created as a collaborative forum between the SPLA and the SPLA-IO initially worked quite well and in fact facilitated the deployment to Juba of IO troops prior to Dr. Riek Machar’s return on April 2016. However, JMCC has become ineffective over the last few weeks as the events in Juba now painfully demonstrate.
- The JMCC has failed to meet and work as a team. This has impeded the integration of the forces. The JMCC has increasingly been unable to secure access for CTSAMM’s monitoring and verification teams whose work is critical to the implementation of the Transitional Security Arrangements. It is absolutely necessary that the JMCC functions if a repeat of violence is to be avoided.
- I reported that the Area Joint Military Ceasefire Committees and the Joint Military Ceasefire Teams have not yet been formed, trained, or deployed, ostensibly due to a lack of funding. My view is that, there is no political will to form these committees. These teams are critical for the establishment, management and monitoring of the cantonment sites. Therefore, I appeal to the international community for funding of this critical structure, without which, the cantonment process cannot commence.
- In my briefing to the African Union PSC, I expressed concern that the prolonged initial delay by the political leaders, coupled with the lack of implementation of the transitional security arrangements provided fertile ground for mutual suspicion which had the likely effect of, and indeed has triggered the current armed conflict.
- Just yesterday, I spoke to the two Leaders urging them to immediately declare a ceasefire.
- Unfortunately, I have received reports that the situation is getting worse and attacks have spread further afield in Juba. Most Embassies and international organizations have reportedly started evacuating their staff.
- I can confirm that I have also commenced preparations for the safe evacuation of my staff at the JMEC Secretariat.
- To conclude, Chairperson, I want to again call for cessation of hostilities, and urge President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar to assume their responsibility to protect civilians, as well as guaranteeing unhindered access for humanitarian workers.
- Failure to respect the permanent ceasefire by the parties is a serious violation of the Peace Agreement, and deserves the severest rebuke by IGAD.
- I appeal to the IGAD, the African Union, the United Nations and the International Community to assist South Sudan in every manner possible, in particular to secure stability and ensure to provision of humanitarian assistance to the affected people.
- Finally, we should not lose hope or be discouraged. We must redouble our efforts to engage the authorities to ensure the return to full implementation of the Peace Agreement.
- I thank you for your attention.