JUBA (8 Feb.) The Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Festus Mogae addressed a plenary meeting of the peace monitoring body today in Juba, saying that he is dismayed at the continuing conflict in Equatoria and the appalling outbreak of violence in Wau and Upper Nile State.
Mogae, the former president of Botswana, is tasked with overseeing implementation of the August 2015 peace deal. He says there are many aspects of the deal that are being violated.
“The recent fighting around Malakal and Renk was a blatant violation of the ceasefire. Individually and collectively JMEC condemns the violence,” said Mogae.
“It is simply not credible for the parties to the agreement to preach peace with one hand and simultaneously wage war around the country with the other” he added.
Mogae further said there have been increasing reports of targeted and revenge killings, sexual violence, torture and destruction of farmland and property being committed by various groups, including men in uniform.
He pointed out that they recently received reports of violent conflict in Equatoria, Upper Nile and Unity regions, saying this is not acceptable.According to Mogae, since November 2016, the main highways from Uganda and Kenya remain extremely dangerous due to the high number of ambushes, killings, and robberies.
“Since 2017 began, we have seen violent conflict in the Equatorias, Upper Nile and Unity regions. This is not acceptable. Security is the foundation stone upon which every other aspect of South Sudan’s future will be built,” he said.
The peace monitor indicated that the spread of the conflict in the Equatoria region has deepened an already dire humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands abandon their livelihoods and cross borders in search of safety.
He called upon all parties involved to cease all military activity and cooperate fully with investigations being carried out by CTSAMM.
Challenge of inclusive process
Separately, Festus Mogae said inclusivity within the peace agreement institutions remain a great challenge , saying they are all interested in finding a way to restore a fully inclusive and representative political process in South Sudan.
He stressed that the process should involve all the estranged parties to the agreement and others without renegotiating the agreement so that all parties and communities see that their interests are being accommodated.
Mogae urged the unity government, IGAD and the international community to take advantage of President Salva Kiir’s National Dialogue initiative and reach out to the estranged parties and their followers.
“For dialogue to have real meaning and effect, it must include more than those who already agree with the government and take account of all views and concerns,” he said.
He said that the peace monitoring body believes that the peace agreement remains the only viable means through which to maintain momentum and deliver a sustainable peace and provides the best framework through which to drive dialogue and engagement and build governance in South Sudan.
Finally, Mogae thanked all partners in the unity government, the other South Sudanese stakeholders, IGAD, AU, Troika, EU, China, the UN, UNMISS, and the International Partners and Friends of South Sudan for their commitment and continued support to JMEC and the peace agreement for South Sudan.
File photo: Festus Mogae/Radio Tamazuj