PEACE AGREEMENT AIVE: South Sudan JMEC Chairman Festus Mogae

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the body overseeing implementation of the shaky South Sudan’s peace agreement signed in August last year insisted that the peace deal is still ‘alive’ and warned against suggestion that it has collapsed, although it has been ‘compromised’ and ‘derailed’ by the July’s renewal of violence in the country.

JMEC chairman and former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, told a meeting in Juba that an inclusive Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) is needed and urged for accommodating of political rivals of Juba government.

“The [August] 2015 Peace Agreement, which I hold here in my hand, is still alive. No one Party can unilaterally dissolve or renegotiate this Agreement,” said Mogae, speaking to JMEC meeting attended by government officials, peace guarantors and the media.

Eruption of fighting in Juba in July that forced SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) leader and then First Vice President, Riek Machar, to flee Juba threatened the implementation of the peace agreement.

The SPLM-IO faction in Juba selected Taban Deng Gai to replace Machar, a move Machar has denounced as “illegal.” The former first vice president, who is now in South Africa for medical check-ups declared the agreement “dead” and pledged to revive it through another political process or using all means – including armed resistance against what he calls “fascist” regime of President Salva Kiir.

President Kiir, on the other hand, has warned Machar against returning to South Sudan’s politics, claiming that his working relationship with the new first vice president, Gai, will restore peace.

JMEC chairman said “we do not make peace with our friends; we reconcile with those with whom we disagree” without referring to President Kiir.

“For the Peace Agreement to have legitimacy, it must be inclusive and representative and I am concerned that, whereas we welcome the commitment demonstrated by the TGoNU, regional guarantors and the international community to the continued implementation of the ARCSS, it is clear that not all Parties are currently included or fully represented,” he noted.

He acknowledged that the implementation of the peace agreement is “undoubtedly compromised and partially derailed” but remain optimistic for the future.

Mogae demanded end to violations of the permanent ceasefire and condemned both the government and the SPLM-IO forces for ‘hostility’.

“We are reporting an increase in offensive operations by both Government Forces and Opposition Forces, specifically in and around Yei, Leer, Jezeera and Nassir. The situation in Equatoria states is of particular concern, where we are deeply concerned about the unacceptable targeting of civilians,” he added.

He also encouraged the government to expedite the deployment of Regional Protection Force to Juba as authorized by the UN Security Council in August this year. He said the force “remains a prerequisite for a secure, peaceful and stable environment within which political inclusion can be pursued.”