Festus Mogae, Chairperson of JMEC delivered a report to the AU Peace and Security Council on the progress of the Peace Agreement. The government, more than any other party, came in for some serious criticism.
On January 29, Festus Mogae, Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) delivered a report to the African Union Peace and Security Council on the progress of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in Republic of South Sudan, popularly known as the Peace Agreement.
His recommendations were mostly accepted by IGAD’s Council of Ministers, and are echoed in their January 31 communique. The communique was unconditionally endorsed by JMEC February 2nd.
The full report can be found here. It goes without saying that the government comes in for some serious criticism in this report. Here are three things you should know from the report:
1. Economic Warning
In the report, JMEC raised concerns about the humanitarian situation and the impending collapse of South Sudan’s economy. It also warned that South Sudan should not expect economic support from the international community until it made significant progress in implementing key provisions of the peace agreement.
“The economy is in particularly dire straits, with foreign reserves rapidly diminishing, growing inflation and rapid depreciation of the national currency.” JMEC report, Jan 2015
Spending by the government, especially on the SPLA, continues at unsustainable levels, with service delivery suffering as a consequence. The SSP to USD exchange rate is now well above 20 SSP to the 1 USD in many parts of the country, with dramatic consequences for vulnerable households already shaken by joblessness and insecurity.
JMEC goes on to warn that vital economic and humanitarian reforms can’t be implemented without the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU).
2. Political Roadblocks
Having criticized the government for obstructing progress in the setup of the TGONU by their insistence on the 28 states – a position contrary to the provisions of the peace agreement – JMEC went on to warn of government attempts to undermine the independence of JMEC itself.
“A strong but collaborative oversight mechanism was the desire of the Guarantors of this Agreement, and that there should be an honest and meaningful relationship between JMEC and the Parties.” JMEC report, Jan 2015
The government has been lobbying to water down the capability of JMEC by repeatedly attacking the process through which its powers and authority are approved. The government has also sought to control membership of JMEC by impeding participation by any South Sudanese not aligned with it. This has led to JMEC appealing directly to IGAD for their continued support as they look to stand up to the government’s attempts to contain the influence of the commission. The same subtle attempts at manipulation were also reported in respects to National Legislative Assembly, with opposition members impeded from active participation.
Despite, or perhaps because of these delays and attempts at meddling with core institutions of the peace agreement, JMEC has advised that the African Union Commission drive ahead with creation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan so as to target the culture of impunity and address the legacy of conflict.
3. Ceasefire violations
By far the worst recorded violation was the killing of 50 civilians in Unity State in October 2015. These civilians were rounded up by government forces and locked up in a shipping container. Without proper ventilation, all 50 civilians suffocated to death. It is inconceivable that government forces guarding the container didn’t hear the victims’ increasingly desperate cries for help as they succumbed to the heat and lack of air.
In December, government forces prevented monitors from investigating allegations of military operations in Western Equatoria. Undeterred by this obstruction, ceasefire monitors are determined to investigate violations of the ceasefire in Equatoria.
Responding to reports of ongoing clashes around Yambio, ceasefire monitors will be opening a mew monitoring site in the town. They have also opened up separate investigations in Western Equatoria and Central Equatoria to investigate alleged violations in the two states. It remains to be seen whether these investigations will include allegations, that have recently surfaced, of chemical weapons munitions being used by SPLA forces against the opposition in Lanyi.