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JUBA - 24 Jun 2016

Mogae has 'heavy heart' over struggling peace deal

The Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Festus Mogae addressed a plenary meeting of the peace monitoring body yesterday saying that he has a 'heavy heart' over the risks to peace in South Sudan.

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 or are delayed.

“After the announcement by the Presidency that agreement had been reached on a number of issues, including the establishment of the Boundary Commission, reinstatement of civil servants, release of prisoners of war and detainees, cantonment sites, and the expanded Transitional National Legislative Assembly, I had hoped that there would be more progress,” he said.

“On the contrary, I regret to report that the progress I had expected has not materialized. If anything, the Parties are further apart,” said Mogae, according to a transcript of his remarks published by JMEC.

He added that there now appears to be a stalemate that threatens the implementation of the entire peace agreement.

“From my consultations with the Parties over the past two days, there is no common understanding of the terms of reference of the proposd Commission on the number of states; as well as on the issue of cantonment sites.” 

He was referring to the controversial Establishment Order, which dissolved the ten constitutional state governments and replaced them with 28 new ones, and to a dispute over whether SPLA-IO may set up cantonment sites in the Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal regions, or only in the Upper Nile region.

Mogae also pointed to the failure to establish the transitional national legisative assembly, referring to disagreement over the selection of the speaker and other disputes.

Ceasefire monitors who report to JMEC has also faced impediments to their movement, he pointed out. He also said that the chairman of the Joint Military Ceasefire Commission “is reportely distracted by other duties, such as planning and executing military operations in some parts of the country.”

The JMCC is staffed by four Deputy Chiefs of General Staff, two from government (SPLA) and two from the SPLM/A (In Opposition).

Mogae called on the parties to respect the ceasefire and to work to make more progress in setting up transitional insitutions and building peace in the country.

File photo: Festus Mogae visiting war-displaced people in Malakal (UNMISS)