South Sudan

Situation in South Sudan - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/566) [EN/AR]


I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2567 (2021), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to 15 March 2022 and requested the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the Mission’s mandate every 90 days. The report covers political and security developments, the humanitarian and human rights situation and progress towards the implementation of the Mission’s mandate from 1 February to 31 May 2021.

II. Political and economic developments

2. On 22 February, South Sudan marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity. On this occasion, international partners and local stakeholders commended the progress but noted the lack of movement in some critical areas. They called upon the parties to accelerate efforts to reconstitute the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, finalize state and local government structures, implement transitional security arrangements, establish transitional justice mechanisms and comprehensively implement the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.

3. Between 20 February and 2 March, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, issued presidential decrees appointing ministers, advisers, commissioners and chairpersons of independent commissions at the state level and delegated powers to the state governors to swear them in. These appointments fell short of the stipulation in the Revitalized Agreement that women should make up 35 per cent of the appointees.

4. On 23 March, the then Minister for Presidential Affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial, announced that elections envisioned to take place in 2022 could not be conducted without a permanent constitution and a population census. He said that more time for preparation was required and that elections would be held in 2023. On 14 April, the Press Secretary of the President, Ateny Wek Ateny, reiterated that the Government planned to hold general elections in 2023.

5. In Juba on 8 April, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), other United Nations entities and the Governments of Sweden, Ireland and Kenya, the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity launched a population estimation survey. Survey results will guide the planning for the conduct of a full population and housing census in 2022. The last population and housing census was conducted in 2008.

6. On 10 April, the President issued a series of decrees relieving and appointing senior officials. The Minister for Presidential Affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial, was replaced by Barnaba Marial Benjamin. The Chief of Defence Forces, General Johnson Juma Okot, was replaced by the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces Assistant Chief of Defence Forces for Administration and Finance, General Santino Deng Wol, who is on the sanctions list pursuant to Security Council resolution 2206 (2015). The President also promoted the Director of the National Security Service, General Akol Koor Kuc, to the rank of First Lieutenant General.

7. Between 8 and 11 May, the President dissolved the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States and reconstituted the 400-member Transitional National Legislative Assembly as a 550-member parliament. However, the gender balance of appointments fell below the 35 per cent quota for women.

8. On 26 March, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs established a task force to oversee the implementation of chapter V of the Revitalized Agreement. However, the draft statute and the memorandum of understanding, critical to the operationalization of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, are still pending signature by the Government and the African Union.

9. From 25 to 27 May, the reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission and the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law facilitated a three-day workshop on the first permanent constitution-making process. The workshop concluded with a resolution on the establishment, roles and mandates of institutions involved in the constitutional process; civic education and public participation; and the convening of a national constitutional conference.

Implementation of the Revitalized Agreement

10. On 15 March, the President requested the National Transitional Committee to report on the status of unifying the command, rank and file of the Necessary Unified Forces. On 18 March, the Chair of the National Transitional Committee, Tut Gatluak, tasked the Joint Defence Board to prepare a proposal for the unification of the Necessary Unified Forces command.

11. On 22 March, the European Union imposed sanctions on South Sudan People’s Defence Forces Major General Moses Lokujo for the abduction and execution of three Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) officers and attacking SPLM/A-IO forces at the Moroto training site in Central Equatoria.

Peace process developments

12. From 8 to 12 March, the peace talks brokered by the Community of Sant’Egidio between the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) and the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity took place in Naivasha, Kenya. The SSOMA faction of the Real Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, General Paul Malong of the South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) and the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity signed the Declaration of Principles on 10 March. The Declaration of Principles will be the guiding framework for future talks between the parties.

13. On 2 May, the SPLM/A-IO Chief of General Staff, General Simon Gatwech Dual, confirmed that Johnson Olony, leader of the Agwelek division of the SPLM/A-IO, promoted himself to the rank of First Lieutenant General. He dismissed allegations that Johnson Olony intended to defect to the Government or form a new rebel group. The Chief of General Staff expressed frustration with the delayed implementation of the transitional security arrangements and admitted to internal administrative challenges within the SPLM/A-IO.

14. On 3 May, former South Sudan People’s Defence Forces Major General Stephen Buay Rolnyang joined General Malong’s SSUF/A. One of the longest-serving officers in the Defence Forces, Stephen Buay was accused of treason, dismissed and stripped of his rank. General Buay cited poor treatment of the Defence Forces’ rank and file, corruption and tribalism as reasons for his defection.

Regional engagements and developments

15. On 27 February, the President attended the twenty-first Ordinary Summit of Heads of States of the East African Community, held virtually, where he recommended a regional visa waiver programme, appealed for capacity support (especially with regard to facilitating the admission of the National Revenue Authority of South Sudan to the Customs Union of the East African Community) and requested a formula that would enable South Sudan to pay its existing debt in instalments.

16. In Juba, on 28 March, President Kiir witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Principles between the Transitional Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. President Kiir promised to continue efforts to include the Sudan Liberation Movement/Abdul Wahid al-Nur in the Sudan peace talks. Another round of talks resumed in Juba on 26 May.

Other major national developments

17. On 19 February, a section of the Jieng Council of Elders issued a statement stating that the Revitalized Agreement had failed to address the causes of insecurity in the country owing to a failure in leadership. The Council called for the implementation of the recommendations of the report of the National Dialogue Conference, including expedited elections.

18. On 10 May, the National Dialogue Steering Committee presented to the President the final resolutions and the communiqué of the National Dialogue Conference. The President pledged to carefully consider the recommendations and implement the resolutions. Thereafter, he issued a decree dissolving the Committee.

Economic situation

19. The Government has stepped up economic reforms to address public financial management, improve transparency and enhance the mobilization of non-oil revenue.
In March, the International Monetary Fund approved a second Rapid Credit Facility loan of $174.2 million to alleviate the stress of the balance of payments associated with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In late March, the Bank of South Sudan committed to unifying the official and parallel exchange rates to alleviate the depreciation of the South Sudanese pound and reduce inflation.

20. Food insecurity contributed to household hardships, with humanitarian organization struggling to fill the gap. In April 2021, the World Food Programme announced cuts in food rations to nearly 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people, who will receive 50 per cent of a full ration, down from 70 per cent.

21. On 22 March, the Auditor General released a report on the accounts held at the Bank of South Sudan relating to the 2 and 3 per cent of net oil revenue designated for petroleum-producing states and communities, respectively. From July 2011 to 31 December 2020, $85,735,541 was deposited in both accounts. From 2014 to 2020, $84,062,073 was disbursed, of which payments of $55,925,556 were made to parties other than those stipulated under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (2013). The audit did not examine how the money transferred to the states was used.