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 April to 30 th June 2020. The Report highlights some of the key activities undertaken over the last three months of the Transitional Period. Among these is reporting on the seven Pre-Transitional tasks carried over after the initial formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) on 22nd February 2020.
During the reporting period, implementation of the R-ACRSS slowed markedly, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as delays by the Agreement Parties in reaching agreement on the responsibility sharing at the state and local government levels. This delay has impacted negatively on the formation of the Transitional National Legislature (TNL), and contributed to a security vacuum in several states; evidenced by escalating intercommunal violence in the states of Warrap, Lakes, Unity and Jonglei. Countless numbers of individuals have been killed and others wounded in ongoing cattle rustling episodes and revenge attacks.
More recently, some progress was seemingly made with regards to reaching an agreement between the Parties on the responsibility sharing at the state and local government levels.
Bilateral discussions between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the First Vice President Dr Riek Machar resulted in the former ITGoNU agreeing to nominate governors to the states of Unity, Eastern Equatoria, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Central Equatoria and Lakes.
The SPLM/A-IO nominated governors for the states of Upper Nile, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Western Equatoria; and SSOA for Jonglei state. However, four of the six parties comprising the Other Political Parties (OPP) have strenuously rejected the decision, arguing that it amounted to a violation of Article 126.96.36.199 of the R-ARCSS. Notwithstanding the objections, on 29 June President Kiir through Republican Decrees No. 51/2020 and 53/2020, named eight of the ten governors and three Chief Administrators of the Administrative Areas respectively.
The NCAC is established under Article 1.18.1 of the R-ARCSS and is mandated to revise or draft new laws, as appropriate, and also review other legislation as provided for in the Agreement. During the reporting period, the NCAC continued with the review of the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act, 2011 pursuant to Articles 4.12.1, 188.8.131.52, to 184.108.40.206; and Southern Sudan National Audit Chamber Act, 2011 pursuant to Article 4.5 of the R-ARCSS. The first drafts of the bills were prepared and distributed to the Committee members for comments and input. Following the response by the members, second drafts were prepared to incorporate the members’ responses and circulated. The bill together with explanatory notes is now ready for stakeholders’ validation.
Concerning the status of implementation of the Transitional Security Arrangements, CTSAMVM reports indicate that some 37,000 personnel remain at cantonment sites and barracks while around 47,000 are at the training centres, including close to 5,000 female trainees. Registration and screening have been put on hold and formal, detailed unification training was halted as at 27th March 2020, in efforts to manage the threat of COVID-19 nationwide. Also, plans to complete graduation at all training centres within 30 days from 28 May 2020, followed by immediate redeployment of the NUF have not materialised. In the meantime, both the training centres and cantonment sites continue to be affected by severe food shortages, lack of medicines, and care facilities for the female personnel.
Consequently, there continues to be high levels of the forces’ abandoning the cantonment sites and training centres.
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan has worsened in the recent past, with the escalating level of inter-communal violence and the continued armed clashes in the Equatorias. This violence is now the leading cause of death and distress; which is compounded by human rights abuses and growing incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against young girls and women. Meanwhile, the combined impacts of declining world oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increases in the prices of basic food items, and a deterioration in the government revenues, further complicating basic livelihood.
Consistent with Articles 5.1.4 and 5.1.5 of the R-ARCSS, the RTGoNU is expected to receive support from the UN, AU and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACPHR) in furtherance of the implementation of Chapter V of the R-ARCSS.
Regrettably, no such support has reportedly been received. The support to be delivered revolves around design, implementation and facilitation of the work of Chapter V mechanisms during the Transitional Period. They are the Commission on Truth, Healing and Reconciliation (CTRH), the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS) and the Compensation and Reparation Authority (CRA).
With respect to the permanent constitution-making process envisaged under Chapter VI of the R-ARCSS, the RTGoNU has, in concurrence with the RJMEC’s Monitoring and Evaluation Matrix identified eleven (11) key tasks as critical for implementation during the Transitional Period. These include: the RTGoNU to initiate and oversee a permanent constitutional-making process during the Transitional Period, and to budget adequate funding; and the RJMEC to identify and engage renowned institutes to facilitate and moderate the permanent constitution-making process workshop and to convene a workshop for the Parties to agree on the details of conducting the permanent constitution-making process.
Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, the RJMEC regards inter-communal violence as a major risk factor, at this time, to the successful implementation of the R-ARCSS. It, urges the Parties to the Agreement, to step up their own efforts at bringing peace to the troubled communities. In that regard, the recent progress made in moving closer to a resolution in responsibility sharing is a very welcomed development. However, it is critical that all the Agreement Parties are fully on board with the compromises being made in the spirit of collegiality, and continued collaboration in the implementation of the R-ARCSS. Changes made to the ratios contained in Article 1.16.1 of the R-ARCSS on responsibility sharing, amounts to an amendment to the provision and requires that the Parties follow the procedure laid down in Article 8.4 of the R-ARCSS.