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Revitalization of the peace agreement is a top priority- JMEC

 

JMEC Chairperson Festus Mogae (M) addresses the press during the plenary meeting (Photo By Woja Emmanuel Wani)

By Woja Emmanuel Wani

The Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Festus Mogae has affirmed that the revitalization of the peace agreement remains the top priority.

Addressing the media during the JMEC plenary meeting held at crown hotel which was then postponed, Festus mogae reiterated that, their secretariat is the core of the High Level Revitalization Forum taskforce, working with the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan and therefore, they remain committed to implement the peace agreement.

“The status quo is not inclusive and cannot bring sustainable peace. It was we who recommended to the IGAD summit that the peace agreement must be revitalized to restore permanent ceasefire and achieve inclusivity. Our efforts and energies therefore, should be dedicated to the successful conclusion of the revitalization process and ensure a return to full and inclusive Implementation of the agreement,” he said.

Mogae stressed that the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed on the 21st December, 2017 has not had the desired impact of halting the violence, but rather the parties to the conflict had been engaged in serious violations of the CoHA since it came into force.

JMEC however continued to urge the parties to adhere to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

“The parties must refrain from all acts of violence, cease hostilities and take immediate steps to investigate and punish those responsible within their ranks,” Mogae added.

The humanitarian needs remain dire. About 4.2 million people remain displaced, 2.4 million of whom are in neighbouring countries. According to the UN, seven million people in South Sudan need humanitarian assistance. Food insecurity is widespread and it is estimated that 6.3 million people are severely food insecure.

The costs of the conflict to civilians continue to rise. A report by the commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (dated March 2018) documents the perpetration of gross human rights abuses with impunity.

Denial of and obstruction of humanitarian access remains a constant issue. So far this year, three aid workers have been killed and 23 others detained the report reads. These impediments to humanitarian access are violations of the CoHA and the 2015 peace agreement, and is unacceptable, Festus Mogae said.

Since conflict erupted late 2013, the economy of the country has kept on deteriorating. The net disposal available to finance the TGoNU’s 2017/18 budget has declined markedly due to repayment of arrears, resulting in an increased deficit. The agreed payment of the arrears in oil production fees and tariffs is estimated at USD 290m. South Sudan presently delivers around two thirds of the government’s share of oil production to Sudan in kind, and despite a marked rise in international oil prices in the last six months, this situation results in a very small impact on the government’s cash flow. Payments resulting from the previous year’s default will continue to weigh down on net revenues until the total amount of arrears are paid, around the middle of next year.

The released also indicates that, the exchange rate against the US dollar continue to deteriorate, despite government efforts at the start of this year to curb activities in the black market and increase the availability of foreign currency. Combined with the deficit budget financing, this has served to fuel inflation rate increased in March 2018 to 160 percent compared to the same time last year.

Some progress has been made by the TGoNU in staging out the fuel subsidy scheme, but more remains to be done in order to realise the level of savings that can assist in reducing government salary and payment arrears. In addition, there continues to be a reduction, and some cases elimination of investment spending, which has severe negative impacts on prospects for growth. Spending cuts have come about through successive postponements of public sector salary payments, and that combined with the severe inflation adds to a deepening sense of anxiety and insecurity among large parts of society, the report discloses.

The contuation of the second phase of the high level revitalization forum is expected to reconvene in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, this week from May 17th to 21st, and JMEC urged the parties to commit themselves as the country has missed so many opportunities to make durable peace saying the parties should not allow the HLRF to be squandered.

“This is the time for all parties at the forum to put the interest of the country first and make compromises necessary to achieve resolution of all the outstanding issues. I want to appeal directly to the authorities here in Juba, and to all the opposition groups that you are all South Sudanese, and I urge you all to accommodate one another, to end this senseless violence,” Mogae concluded.

 

 

 

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