South Sudan

Situation in South Sudan - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/784) [EN/AR]

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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 June to 31 August 2021.

II. Political and economic developments

2. On 9 July, South Sudan observed the tenth anniversary of its independence. In his address to the nation, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, noted the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan as a priority, highlighted the progress achieved thus far and affirmed the commitment of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity to graduating the Necessary Unified Forces.

Reconstituted parliament

3. On 4 July, Mr. Kiir issued decrees appointing new members to the Council of States. The new Council is composed of 92 members, of whom 25 are women. The President also revised the list of appointees for the reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly, replacing 35 previously appointed members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). On 30 July, Mr. Kiir revoked the decree appointing members of the Other Political Parties coalition to the reconstituted Assembly following disagreements over representation. On 4 August, all leaders of the coalition, with the exception of Peter Mayen, reached an agreement on the distribution of their allotted legislative seats.

4. On 23 July, the SPLM leadership nominated Jemma Nunu Kumba as the Speaker of the reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly, Parmena Awerial Aluong as the Second Deputy Speaker and Mary Ayen Majok as the Deputy Speaker of the Council of States. On 27 July, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) nominated Nathaniel Oyet Pierino as the First Deputy Speaker of the reconstituted Assembly and Deng Deng Akon as the Speaker of the Council. The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) selected Lieutenant General Bapiny Monytuil as the Second Deputy Speaker of the Council of States. The swearing-in ceremony of the parliamentarians took place on 2 August. On 30 August, the President presided over the inauguration of the reconstituted Assembly and the Council. In his address, he stated that, despite the delays, the reconstitution of the Parliament was proof that the parties were invested in implementing the revitalized peace agreement. Internal disputes in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Army in Opposition

5. On 21 June, the President appointed Simon Gatwech Dual, the Chief of General Staff of SPLM/A-IO, as the Presidential Adviser on peace. On 22 June, the Chairperson of SPLM/A-IO, Riek Machar, relieved Mr. Gatwech Dual of his position in SPLM/A-IO. On 24 June, Mr. Gatwech Dual rejected his appointment as Presidential Adviser, stating that he had not been consulted about the position before it was announced.

6. On 3 August, a group of SPLM/A-IO military leaders announced, through the Kitgwang Declaration, that they had ousted Mr. Machar as the Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of SPLM/A-IO and replaced him with Mr. Gatwech Dual. On 4 August, following a meeting chaired by Mr. Machar, the SPLM/A-IO Political Bureau rejected the declaration, characterizing it as an attempt by peace spoilers and defectors. On 7 August, forces of Mr. Machar and Mr. Gatwech Dual clashed in Gezan and Megeinis in Upper Nile, followed by additional clashes in the area in the weeks that followed. On 8 August, a group of SPLM/A-IO leaders and some members of the Political Bureau, the National Liberation Council and other cadres, led by the SPLM/A-IO Deputy Chairperson, Henry Dilang Odwar, announced their support for the group of military leaders who had issued the Kitgwang Declaration. On 13 August, the Political Bureau, chaired by Machar, cancelled the group’s membership for allegedly undermining the objectives and policies of SPLM/A-IO.

7. On 10 August, the President convened a meeting of the presidency in Juba to discuss the situation in SPLM/A-IO. The President called for the cessation of hostilities between the rival factions and the observance of a reasonable distance to safeguard against further violence. He also directed the security supervision mechanism and the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism to visit Megeinis in order to maintain calm and prevent any further violence. The presidency called for the immediate unification of the command of the forces and directed the First Vice-President, Mr. Machar, and the Vice-President, Hussein Abdelbagi, to present their list of nominees for the unified forces to the President.

Implementation of the Revitalized Agreement

8. On 23 June, Mr. Machar launched a two-day symposium on federalism in the permanent constitution-making process in South Sudan under the theme “Towards a legitimate and effective federal constitution framework”.

9. On 30 June, Mr. Machar and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Reuben Madol, launched the consultative process for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing in line with chapter V of the Revitalized Agreement. The event marked the reconstitution of an inclusive technical committee, composed of government officials, signatories to the Revitalized Agreement and civil society representatives, who are tasked with drafting the Commission legislation based on inclusive, participatory and transparent public consultations.

10. On 15 July, the Ministry of Peace Building, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), held a dialogue under the theme “Towards the development of a South Sudan peacebuilding strategic forum”. During the dialogue, the peacebuilding strategic framework of South Sudan was discussed and developed.

Peace process developments

11. From 15 to 18 July, the peace talks led by the Community of Sant’Egidio between the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity and the South Sudan United Front/Army and the Real SPLM faction of the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) took place in Rome. The Real SPLM faction of SSOMA recommitted to its integration into the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism and presented its nominees to the body. The parties also outlined a road map for moving the talks forward over the coming months. On 20 July, the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Barnaba Marial, informed the public of efforts to bring the National Salvation Front (NAS), the other SSOMA faction, led by Thomas Cirillo, back to the peace talks.

12. On 17 August, the President strongly condemned an attack on the Juba-Nimule road in a statement and blamed holdout groups for the deaths of civilians, including two nuns, in the attack. On 30 August, the President said that the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity had decided to pause the Sant’Egidio-led talks with SSOMA, stating that talks would only resume after SSOMA ceased hostilities.

Political developments

13. On 15 July, the Minister of Public Service and leader of the South Sudan National Movement for Change, Joseph Bakosoro, and some members of his party rejoined SPLM. Mr. Bakosoro did not resign from his post, to which he was appointed on an SSOA ticket, despite calls for him to resign by SSOA members.

14. The President issued several decrees by which he relieved and appointed high-ranking government officials. On 1 June, the President relieved the Chief Administrators of the Pibor Administrative Area, Joshua Konyi, and of the Ruweng Administrative Area, William Chol Awalith, of their posts. They were replaced by Lokoli Amu Bullen and Peter Dau, respectively. On 8 June, the President relieved the Governor of Lakes State, Major General Makur Kulang Liei, and the Chief of Military Intelligence of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, Major General Rin Tueny Mabor Deng, of their posts. He appointed the latter as Governor of Lakes State and Lieutenant General Marshal Stephen Babanen as Chief of Military Intelligence. On 28 July, the President relieved the Deputy Governor of Western Bahr el-Ghazal State of his post and appointed Zachariah Joseph Garang in his place. He also appointed Mary Nawai Martin as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.

15. On 30 August, the planned protests called by the Peoples’ Coalition for Civil Action did not manifest as public demonstrations. The leaders of the Coalition, however, declared victory on the basis of what they deemed an overreaction by the Government.

Regional engagements and developments

16. On 24 June, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held the seventy-second extraordinary meeting of its Council of Ministers. In its communiqué, the Council of Ministers welcomed the progress on the implementation of chapters I and II of the Revitalized Agreement while noting the challenges related to transitional security arrangements. On 9 August, IGAD held the seventy-third extraordinary meeting of its Council of Ministers to discuss the SPLM/A-IO rupture. In its communiqué, the Council noted with concern the unfolding political crisis and splintering of SPLM/A-IO, which entailed significant implications for the ongoing peace process in South Sudan as well as for the wider region. The Council called upon the opposition factions to immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities and seek peaceful solutions through dialogue. The Council tasked the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Workneh Gebeyehu, and the IGAD Special Envoy, Ismail Wais, to support the Chair of IGAD in mediating the dispute within SPLM/A-IO. It also requested them to develop a road map setting clear timelines on subsequent engagements with parties to resolve the current disagreements and detailing the key areas impeding progress in the implementation of transitional security arrangements.

17. The Executive Secretary of IGAD and the IGAD Special Envoy visited Juba from 11 to 13 August. In his capacity as Chair of IGAD, the Prime Minister of the Sudan, Abdalla Hamdok, visited Juba from 19 to 20 August to further engage partners and stakeholders.

Economic situation

18. Economic reforms continued to improve macroeconomic stability and public finances and to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The depreciation of the South Sudanese pound was reversed in mid-August, following a convergence of the exchange rate between the Central Bank and the parallel market. This is expected to help control inflation and to positively affect food security for households.

19. On 7 July, the South Sudan Council of Ministers approved the resource envelope and sector ceiling for the 2021–2022 budget estimated at around $1.6 billion, which is 5 per cent lower than the previous year’s budget that was not approved. However, the budget still presents a significant funding gap of about 29 per cent, which will be challenging to bridge. Nevertheless, salaries for civil servants and organized forces have doubled, and allocations to social sectors such as health and education, as well as infrastructure, have increased. The new budget is expected to be approved in September.