• Merio Jimmy

IGAD head applauds first year of R-ARCSS implementation

Merio Jimmy, Juba

In a press release published on the anniversary of the R-ARCSS' signing last year yesterday, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development has congratulated all stakeholders on a successful first year of leadership by the Revised Transnational Government of Unity (R-TGoNU).

Noting the obstacles affecting South Sudan in 2020-21, such as COVID-19 and flooding, Amb. Wais noted the 'commendable progress' since the agreement was introduced a year ago yesterday.

Ismail Wais, IGAD special envoy to South Sudan.

To date, the Government Executive has been formed, consisting of the Presidency and the Council of Ministers. In addition, there are Governors and Deputy Governors of the 10 states as well the chief administrators of the 3 administrative areas. Agreements have also been reached as to the structures and allocations of the remaining positions at state and local government levels.

Particular mention was also given to the ceasefire, which was described as 'largely holding'. From this, Amb. Wais described the current situation in the country as 'a relatively conducive environment for the overall implementation of the R-ARCSS'.

Despite such progress, however, IGAD expressed concern as to a number of critical pre-transitional tasks that are not yet completed. Notably, The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) has not been reconstituted, a number of state and local positions remain unfilled, and the training and unification of forces is far behind schedule.

Regarding the unification of forces, a recent joint visit to Maridi and Rajaf training centres by regional ambassadors, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) and IGAD revealed the dire situation of military camps. Troops were left without food, water, shelter or medicine. Furthermore, there appears to be no coherent timeline for the graduation of new Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) troops.

Officer cadets of the new Unified Forces, currently awaiting a graduation date.

Amb. Wais also raised the increased prevalence of defections and localised clashes, which has eroded trust among stakeholders and threaten peace in South Sudan. Cattle raiding and inter￾communal violence also continue to threaten civilians, without sign of improvement.

More positively, however, IGAD applauded the recent decision of

the South Sudan Council of Ministers in authorising the Minister for Justice and

Constitutional Affairs to start preparations for the establishment of Transitional Justice

Mechanisms, as decreed in Chapter V of the R-ARCSS. IGAD applauded the Minister’s quick work in establishing a taskforce to spearhead and coordinate implementation efforts.

In the past year, humanitarian crises and food insecurity has been exacerbated by natural and man￾made disasters. According to reports from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 2021 will see over 8.3mil people in South Sudan require humanitarian assistance. The economy has also suffered from the cumulative effects of COVID-19, plunging oil prices and increased inflation.

IGAD also mentioned the encouraging direction of talks between the Government of South Sudan and the non-signatory group, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA). It is hoped the dialogue will produce positive results soon.

Amb. Wais also recognised and appreciated the significant contribution to regional peace made by South Sudan in successfully hosting and mediating the Sudan talks, as well as by offering to mediate between Ethiopia and Sudan regarding their border dispute.

'This is one clear indication that besides the people of South Sudan the neighboring countries and the region at large are reaping the fruits of peace in South Sudan', Wais commented.

Regional peace talks recently hosted in Juba.

Considered generally, IGAD noted that the last year has presented a mixed-bag of progress and delay in terms of R-ARCSS implementation. In light of this, IGAD believes it is the right time for all parties and stakeholders to take stock of the achievements and challenges to ensure and genuine discussion and dialogue in coming months.

Going forward, Amb. Wais hoped to see priority given to the unification of South Sudan's forces, describing it as 'the backbone of the R-ACRSS'. IGAD are committed and will

continue providing and facilitating political and technical support, within their means

and mandate, to the Peace Process in South Sudan, and also call upon the International

Partners and Friends of South Sudan to continue and enhance their support towards the

implementation of the R-ARCSS.

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