This Report on the status of implementation of the tasks 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 January to 31st March 2021. This Report therefore, highlights the few accomplishments that were realised during the period, particularly relating to governance issues, while also stressing the stalled implementation of the permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements. Much remains to be done by the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) especially considering that less than two years remain in the Transitional Period as it was previously agreed upon.
During the reporting period, there was some progress towards the implementation of the provisions of Chapter I of the R-ARCSS. President of the Republic of South Sudan H.E. Salva Kiir completed the appointments of all governors and deputy governors for all ten states. This was complemented with the appointments of the State Ministers, Advisors, Independent Commissioners and County Commissions. However, appointments of the local governments in the three Administrative Areas of Abyei, Ruweng and Greater Pibor remain outstanding. Of concern is the failure of the Parties to the Agreement to respect the 35 percent women representation in the Executive.
Since the last report, the Permanent Ceasefire has continued to hold despite the volatile security situation in the Upper Nile State due to attacks on the SPLA-IO Liang Cantonment Site in January by former SPLA-IO forces who defected to the South Sudan Peoples Defense Forces (SSPDF). Elsewhere in the country, there have been other attacks on cantonment sites and in some cases by armed youth. Acts of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) by uniformed forces are still occurring, and a CTSAMVM report notes that there had been serious crimes committed by some SSPDF soldiers in December 2020 including murder, rape, assault and theft. The attacks were conducted as revenge for the alleged attack by Thomas Cirillo forces on SSPDF.
Cantonment sites and training centres continue to face significant challenges that include a lack of food, medicine, clean water, shelter equipment and essential personal hygiene items for female personnel; as a result morale has deteriorated. The RJMEC Interim Chairperson organised a site visit for IGAD regional ambassadors and the Special Envoy to two such training centres. They confirmed the dire conditions at the centres and issued a statement calling on the RTGoNU to take urgent action to remedy the situation while noting that the full and timely implementation of the transitional security arrangements is intended to underpin a stable future for the people and South Sudan, and it is a key part of avoiding repetition of past mistakes, and achieving a united, peaceful and prosperous society throughout the country.
The level of humanitarian need in South Sudan continued to rise as a result of multiple shocks key among which were widespread sub-national violence, COVID-19 related restrictions, currency depreciation and economic challenges that contributed towards a rise in acute food insecurity. Almost half of the population, 5.82 million people, were projected to likely face a crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worsening acute food insecurity and 105,000 catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase5). In response to the growing needs, the humanitarian community launched the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2021, targeting 6.6 million people with urgent life-saving assistance and protection by the end of the year.
Concerning the implementation of tasks related to resource, economic and financial management, not much has been accomplished. There was, however, limited progress in some areas. First, with regard to economic and financial management, the Public Financial Management Oversight Committee is building capacity of the government to implement its reform strategy that is aligned to the R-ARCSS. Second, the dissemination of the updated annual petroleum reports from the Ministry of Petroleum is a step in the right direction.
With regard to Transitional Justice, there has been some progress following the RTGoNU Cabinet endorsement of the Roadmap of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for its implementation. The Justice Minister has established a Taskforce within the Ministry to coordinate the day-to-day implementation of Chapter V, Chapter VI and on Judicial Reform, and is awaiting submission of the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan from the Africa Union.
With respect to the Permanent Constitution-making process envisaged under Chapter VI of the R-ARCSS, the RJMEC has scheduled the workshop to take place towards the end of May 2021. This was made possible following nominations by all the Parties of their representatives to the workshop. During the workshop, the Parties are expected to agree on the details of conducting the permanent constitution-making process, which outcome shall form the basis of the legislations to be enacted.
During the visit to Juba of the Africa Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), RJMEC outlined to the Council the slow pace of implementation of the R-ARCSS. RJMEC also drew attention to the spate of military defections and growing inter-communal violence, which continue to negatively impact on the implementation of the R-ARCSS. It also requested that the Council prevails on the Parties to: (i) urgently reconstitute the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) and Council of States, and complete appointment of State Legislative Assembly and lower local government, and to observe the 35% quota for women’s representation across the board; (ii) forge ahead with immediate graduation and redeployment of the unified forces, prioritize Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), and also to expedite Phase II and the Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) process.
Further, RJMEC also urged the Council to impress on the RTGoNU to expedite the required economic and public finance reforms, immediately establish the Transitional Justice institutions, and expedite the permanent constitution-making process. Consequently, RJMEC recommends the convening of an IGAD Summit to address the exceedingly slow pace of the R-ARCSS implementation and to specifically address the issue of unification of forces, among others. This as the world appeals to the RTGoNU to move the process forward.