Troika statement in support of the IGAD High-level Forum on South Sudan

Preparations to hold the IGAD High-level Revitalization Forum for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan later this month continue to move ahead. Dr. Festus Mogae, who heads the Joint Evaluation and Monitoring Commission overseeing the implementation of the 2015 peace accord, the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), has called for “the revitalization process to address the current political realities in South Sudan, and seek ways in which key actors can be identified and engaged or re-engaged.” The series of consultations carried out by IGAD has now been completed, and as we noted last week, IGAD’s Council of Ministers meeting in Abidjan laid out a possible timetable. It proposed the next meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers and an Extraordinary IGAD Summit should be December 15-16 in Addis Ababa and that these should be followed immediately by the launch of the High-Level Revitalization Forum at the same venue.

The Troika, whose members recently traveled to South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya in support of the efforts of IGAD to convene the Forum, said it remained “appalled by the dire economic, security, human rights and humanitarian crisis being inflicted” on the South Sudanese people as a result of the nearly four-year conflict that their political leaders had generated and fueled.  It said the Forum was a critical opportunity to make urgent progress, adding that all parties had a responsibility to the citizens of South Sudan “to participate constructively and be open to real compromise.”

The Troika said as a first priority all parties must end hostilities as a sign of commitment to the Forum, as they had pledged to do. The statement said, “The Government of South Sudan, in particular, must cease its pursuit of military victory and make good on its promise to end all obstruction of humanitarian assistance.”  The Troika also called on the armed opposition to end all military activity and lift any barriers to humanitarian access.

 The statement said the Troika strongly supported the calls that it heard from voices across South Sudan and the region for the High-level Revitalization Forum “to be inclusive, reflecting the interests of all parties, regions, and groups in South Sudan, including young people and women.” It emphasized that all parties to the conflict must negotiate in good faith and work to best reflect  the reality of conditions in South Sudan, particularly those related to power sharing, timelines, and transitional security arrangements. It said a key goal for the Forum should be “monitored, effective security arrangements durable enough to stop the conflict, improve the human rights and humanitarian situation, and support a political process that produces an agreed path to viable elections.” It added “there must also be clear consequences for those who violate the agreement.”

The statement added that alongside regional and international partners, the Troika would continue to identify and hold responsible “those who work against peace, including through economic and other sanctions”. Its members would also act against those who use their positions to fuel conflict and steal from the South Sudanese people and those who facilitate their illicit financial activities.”

Others have underlined the importance that expectations from the Forum should be determined and owned by South Sudanese, and that they must also be realistic. The outcomes of the Forum therefore need to include a number of specific areas. Reform of security arrangements should address most areas of conflict and ensure these can last the remainder of the transitional period. Any extension to the transitional period should be tied to firm commitments to key governance, economic and humanitarian reforms. The progress to elections should be conditional on the creation of a satisfactory environment with improved security and humanitarian conditions. The oversight mechanism for the peace process must be fully empowered to follow-up on implementation and to take action if obligations are not complied with. Equally, the essential reforms and transitional justice commitments laid out in the Agreement must be kept.

In addition, the Forum will need to offer a realistic timeline for implementing the peace deal and measures must be put in place to popularize the agreement. The government’s own national dialogue becomes important in this respect. As the Troika underlined, security arrangements, power sharing and transitional justice, are the major areas of importance for the revitalization process.  Equally, the government must show clear political will to demonstrate its determination to bring peace to the country and show it is willing to take every measure to succeed in this aim.