The American withdrawal from the implementation of peace in South Sudan confirms its failure.
By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak
Last week, Friday, July 15, 2022, the United States withdrew from the systems that monitor the peace process in the Republic of South Sudan due to the country’s failure to meet the significant reforms stipulated in the R-ARCSS , the State Department said. The United States cited the “lack of sustained progress in peace implementation as the reason for the withdrawal of two peacekeeping organizations monitoring the impoverished country’s path to implement the transitional peace agreement, namely the reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) and the Ceasefire and Transition Commission. Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM). The statement denounced the failure of South Sudanese leaders to establish a “unified professional army”; protect members of civil society, journalists; and to enact the necessary financial reforms. He also lamented that the leadership of South Sudan has not taken full advantage of the support provided by these oversight mechanisms and has shown a lack of political will necessary to implement essential reforms.
For example, South Sudan has yet to pass key electoral legislation in line with the timeline of the revitalized peace agreement. South Sudan still lacks a unified professional army to serve and protect the people. Members of civil society and journalists are regularly intimidated and prevented from speaking out. The government continues to divert oil production before it reaches the national budget and has not implemented public financial management reforms.
At the moment, we only remain six months for the expiration of the transitional period of 36 months. We are exceeding the time limit for the holding of general elections as specified in the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. However, the preconditions for holding free, fair and credible elections have not been met. These include the unification of the armed forces; conduct of a population census; adopt a permanent constitution for the country; judicial reform; the repatriation and resettlement of millions of refugees and internally displaced persons; and the promulgation of laws that are necessary for the process has not yet visited.
These important tasks have not been implemented due to lack of political will as there has been deliberate action since 2018 to block the implementation process in order to maintain the status quo and secure the extension of the transition period so that the people concerned buy themselves a new lease in time. An extension of the transition period, in particular the elections scheduled for 2023, will serve no purpose other than to achieve the designs of those who have obstructed the implementation of the peace agreement. The inability to achieve the preconditions for the holding of free, fair and credible elections is not due to lack of time but to a lack of political will. Therefore, nothing should change even if the transitional period is extended infinitely.
Currently. The parties in the RARCISS could sit down and deliberate in depth on how and when the elections should take place. They would work on forming the electoral commission and how to conduct the elections taking into account the conditions, in which case the elections will not be free and fair, or obtain the extension of the transition period under the status quo. The parties could propose a realistic and practical roadmap emphasizing the preparation of a flat ground for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, including the unification of the armed forces and the promulgation of a constitution standing on the basis of which elections should be held. Now is not the right time for countries like the United States to stand down and let the South Sudanese spoil the peace.
Now is the time to call on regional and international organizations and countries to assume their responsibilities under the peace agreement they negotiated and signed as guarantors or witnesses. They cannot, at this critical moment, shirk their responsibilities and say that it is up to the South Sudanese to decide. If it was up to the South Sudanese alone to decide, there would have been no need for mediation to reach the peace agreement and there would have been no reason to have guarantors. The United States of America has stood with the people of South Sudan in their despair for a very long time. For years, it has provided significant assistance to save lives and reduce the suffering of the people of South Sudan. Rather than withdraw, the United States would redouble its efforts to pressure the parties to RARCISS to fully implement peace and promote peace, national reconciliation, and healing in the country.
The United States could call on all members of the revitalized Transitional National Unity Government to take the necessary steps to be seen as credible in the eyes of the people of South Sudan, beginning with full compliance with and implementation of the 2018 peace accord. American support for the peace process lent credibility to the pact and those implementing it. The withdrawal of this support indicates that the whole peace process is in jeopardy for the reason that the American allies of the troika, namely Britain and Norway, could follow suit and withdraw their support as well. This action worries the South Sudanese that the country will again be in the throes of war.
In summary, the withdrawal of US support for monitoring mechanisms means that attempts to slow down the implementation process may not be fully investigated and that efforts to identify those responsible for these violations may be hindered. This ultimately benefits the government, as Kiir’s administration and his forces – the holders of most of the power have already been identified as complicit in the breach of the agreement according to several reports. On July 9, Kiir’s Independence Day speech hinted at the impending decision and called on the United States to reconsider. Days later, he formed a committee of staunchly loyal senior cabinet officials Michael Makuei, Martin Elia Lomuro and Mayik Deng to develop a roadmap for what to do after February 2023. The fact that the committee was formed so late illustrates how little thought has been given to what should happen after February 2023 and that the committee only exists in response to international pressure. Notable absentees from this new committee are the representatives of the SPLM-IO and other political parties. This is already a source of disagreement which will further delay implementation. Additionally, two of the committee’s most influential members, Makuei and Lomuro, who have served in Kiir’s cabinet for more than a decade, are among the president’s most diehard supporters. During Ethiopia’s peace talks in 2017 and 2018, they led the government’s efforts to secure major concessions from the opposition and mediators, a feat that protracted negotiations as they often took time for the talks and were returning to Juba, ostensibly to “consult” with Kiir.
Overall, the US decision to stop supporting peace monitoring mechanisms is a challenge to the African Union’s reluctance to expose South Sudan’s leadership for delaying the implementation of the peace monitoring mechanism. ‘peace agreement. It remains to be seen whether the AU will take a similar approach and hold South Sudan’s leadership to account.
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