Opinion

PARTIES TO THE R-ARCSS WORKING TOGETHER FOR PEACE, CAN OVERCOME OBSTACLES

By Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai

The last few weeks have brought about very fundamental lessons on how the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) still remains the critical document for peace and stability in South Sudan, and how all efforts must be directed towards its full implementation. Perhaps most of all, the lessons lie in understanding what can be achieved when the Parties to the Agreement work together. Recently, we have seen the leadership of the Parties, with the support of the region’s leaders, come together, make compromises, and overcome obstacles for the sake of peace.

The R-ARCSS, signed in September 2018, is a comprehensive document, containing six thematic chapters. Although commendable progress has been made towards the implementation of some provisions of the Agreement to date, it is true that overall, its implementation has been slow. February 2022 marked exactly 24 months since the formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU), and today, there are fewer than 11 months to the end of the Transitional Period.

But the events of the last few weeks should give us hope and encouragement that despite the challenges and the pressures, much can be achieved in the time remaining.

Chapter 2, the Transitional Security Arrangements, is the backbone of the Agreement, but had been experiencing delays particularly in the unification of the forces. However, the signing on 3 April 2022 of the Security Agreement between the ITGoNU, the SPLM/A-IO, and SSOA broke the impasse, and as per the matrix of the agreement, there should now be timely and appropriate progress. In other words, in the weeks and few months to come, the Parties have agreed to make great strides forward. The matrix also details the steps that need to be taken for graduation, redeployment, and Phase 2 of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) to happen.

 I wish to congratulate H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, H.E. Dr Riek Machar, First Vice President, and H.E. Hussein Abdelbagi, Vice President for their leadership in reaching this agreement. Furthermore, I also wish to congratulate IGAD, its Chairperson H.E. Lt. Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Burhan, Chairperson of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Deputy Chairperson of the Sovereignty Council, and the Government of Sudan for the leadership and support they have given in order to achieve this outcome. I also wish to thank the IGAD member states, the African Union, and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for their efforts on this matter.

 Following the signing of the 3 April 2022 Security Agreement, the official launch of the public consultations for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) took place at Freedom Hall in Juba, on 5 April 2022. The outcomes of the nationwide consultations will inform the legislation which establishes the CTRH, which is one of the three mechanisms envisaged by the Transitional Justice chapter in the R-ARCSS.

It is important the Technical Committee from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs undertakes the process of national consultations in a manner that gives opportunity to all the citizens of South Sudan to meaningfully participate and give their honest views about the kind of CTRH they wish to see established. Furthermore, it is also important that the consultations are conducted in a manner which upholds the letter and spirit of the R-ARCSS, and that they align with international human rights standards and best practices. I wish them the best of luck in their efforts, and hope a comprehensive report of the findings and recommendations is delivered in a timely manner.

 The ultimate goal of the Peace Agreement is to have an enduring and sustainable peace in South Sudan through constitutionalism and free, fair and credible elections. South Sudanese know that elections are an important objective of the Agreement and many critical tasks which are necessary to achieving this objective remain pending before this requirement is achieved. Accordingly, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) has requested the RTGoNU to review the status of the implementation of the Agreement and to prepare a strategy on how it intends to implement the remaining outstanding tasks within timelines, considering the remaining period before the end of the Transitional Period in February 2023.

I therefore urge the Parties to build on the recent momentum with a selfless spirit and focus on joint envisioning, planning, coordination and assessment of the requirements needed for implementation of the agreement by identifying gaps, challenges and how these remaining tasks are integrated in the implementation of all the chapters of the agreement. This will enable a clear projection of priorities going forward.

 It is imperative that South Sudanese leadership recognizes that when the Parties to the Agreement come together for the sake of peace and stability, and with additional support of regional and international leaders, much can be achieved.   The South Sudanese people are crying out for peace, and it is important that the Parties make good on the promise they made in the preamble of the Agreement; that they will lay the foundation for a united, peaceful and prosperous society, in order to ensure justice, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law in South Sudan. As RJMEC, we continue to encourage the speedy implementation of all chapters of the Agreement in letter and spirit in accordance with our mandate.

 I wish you all a Happy Easter, and a blessed Holy Month of Ramadan.

The author is Major General Charles Tai Gituai (rtd) CBS, Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC)

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