South Sudan says peace implementation on course despite challenges-Xinhua

South Sudan says peace implementation on course despite challenges

Source: Xinhua| 2024-02-29 00:58:15|Editor: huaxia

JUBA, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said it has made encouraging progress in the implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement despite enormous challenges ahead of the general election in December 2024.

The Minister of Information, Communication, Technology, and Postal Services Michael Makuei Lueth said that while the implementation of the peace agreement might be slow, the government has maintained peace and security across the country except for a few hotspots largely characterized by communal violence, cattle rustling and robbery.

"Despite the challenges that are directly related to our internal conflicts and weak institutions, the government continues to make steady progress in the implementation of the revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan," Makuei told journalists Tuesday evening in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. "Now that the electoral and constitutional-making bodies are restructured and reconstituted, the government is fully committed to take the country for elections in December so that our people can elect leaders of their choice."

Makuei noted that six army battalions have now been deployed between November and December 2023 to take care of the security situation in some of the hotspots around Malakal, Maridi, Renk, Wau, and Torit. Preparations are at an advanced stage for the deployment of the remaining phase 1 forces to areas that are identified as insecure, said the official, adding that arrangements for the cantonment and training of phase 2 of the remaining Necessary Unified Forces are nearly completed.

"The deployment of the Necessary Unified Police Force and other organized forces is in progress. With the deployment of these forces, the government will be in a stronger position to fully control its civilian population and protect its properties throughout the country. That is what the government aims to do in order to make South Sudan a conventional nation-state," Makuei said.

He said that the government is working closely with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the African Union (AU), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the organs created by the revitalized peace agreement to ensure a smooth transition toward democratic governance.

The Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), Charles Tai Gituai, who addressed a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), said that much work remains to be done to complete the pending tasks within the peace agreement to pave way for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.

Gituai said that pending tasks include funding and operationalization of the elections-related institutions responsible for the preparation and conduct of elections and the making of the permanent constitution, whose provisions will guide the conduct of elections.

He also noted that other key pending tasks include judicial reforms to enhance the capacity and independence of judicial institutions, completion of phase 1 and phase 2 unification of forces, and the expansion of political and civic space to enhance public participation in the constitution and election processes.

Gituai, however, warned that on evidence of his recent engagement with the parties to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, they are yet to arrive at a consensus on the conduct of the upcoming elections scheduled for December this year.

He called on the AUPSC to support the revitalized transitional government to deliver credible elections within the framework of the peace agreement and encourage the parties to dialogue to build the consensus and compromise necessary to hold free, fair, and credible elections.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMISS, Nicolas Haysom, told the AUSPC that it is increasingly clear that the South Sudanese and their leaders want elections, adding that there is, however, widespread ambivalence about the adequacy of preparedness of electoral institutions and processes, as well as the security environment to endure a robust political competition without a relapse into conflict.

Haysom disclosed that inter-communal violence is the biggest risk to conducting an election without violence.

"During a meeting with senior officials of the United Nations last week, the minister of interior, with related comments by the minister of information, stated that they have now classified inter-communal violence as a national security threat," Haysom said.

He added that the implementation of the transitional security arrangements and the other pending tasks including the deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces remains a cornerstone for peace before, during, and after the elections. Haysom also noted that the trilateral mechanism does not seek to impose foreign standards or external milestones on the parties.

He said that the Horn of Africa would be devastated if it were required to endure two wars at the same time in Sudan and South Sudan, adding that the UN, AU, IGAD, and the government are required to take all steps to avoid this possibility.

"The government must be encouraged to increase momentum towards democratic elections as agreed and sought by South Sudanese. It must do so by simply taking the political decisions which are required of it and backing them with financial resources," Haysom said.