The oversight body monitoring South Sudan’s peace agreement on Wednesday strongly condemned recent increase in fighting across the East African nation that has displaced over 50,000 people since January.
Festus Mogae, Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) told a meeting of stakeholders in the capital Juba that recent flareup in armed clashes, sexual violence and increased restrictions on aid delivery in the past three months has greatly threatened peace efforts in the war-torn country.
“Since the beginning of 2017, we have received reports of violent conflict in the Equatoria, Upper Nile and the Unity regions. This is not acceptable and JMEC demands respect for the cease fire and the restoration of peace by all parties,” Mogae said.
“It is simply not credible for the Parties to the Agreement to preach peace with one hand and simultaneously wage war around the country with the other,” he added.
The former Botswana President called on the country’s warring parties to make every effort for the total cessation of violence around the country and allow immediate deployment of the regional protection force approved by the UN Security council in August 2016.
“JMEC will never tire of repeating its resolute belief that South Sudan’s problems must be resolved peacefully and politically, not forcefully. We must be willing to accommodate each other rather than defeat each other,” he said.
Mogae also called for a fully inclusive and representative political process in South Sudan that accommodates the interests of all the parties to the agreement and communities without renegotiation of the August 2015 pact.
“We are all interested in finding a way to restore a fully inclusive and representative political process, involving all the estranged Parties to the Agreement, without renegotiating the Agreement, so that all Parties and communities see that their interests are being accommodated,” Mogae said.
He appealed to the international community to support a call for national dialogue initiated by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir late last year, adding that an inclusive dialogue would offer a platform to restore full stability in the world’s youngest nation.
“The transitional government of national unity should ensure a genuine, inclusive national dialogue process that involves all parties to the agreement, armed groups and civil society organizations,” he said.
Mogae further urged South Sudanese government to lift restrictions imposed on humanitarian assistance and allow unhindered access by humanitarian organizations to people in need of help.
South Sudan has been devastated by civil war which erupted in December 2013, killing tens of thousands, displacing over two million and left another 4.6 million severely food insecure.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under UN pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April, but was shattered by renewed fighting in July 2016. Enditem