Statement by Mr. Guang Cong, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/Political at the 28th RJMEC Plenary Meeting [As delivered]
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests,
I thank RJMEC for convening this meeting and for the opportunity to brief you today.
Let me begin by commending the parties to have reached a consensus on the power-sharing formula for the mid-level command of the Necessary Unified Forces. We welcome this development and encourage the parties to provide the necessary adequate resources for the sustenance and deployment of the graduated troops. It is our hope that this could expedite the commencement of Phase 2.
I welcome the recent approval of the amended National Security Service Bill, the Public Financial Management and Accountability Bill, the Bank of South Sudan Bill, and the Banking Bill by the Council of Ministers. As the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly has now commenced its first session for the year, we would like to echo President Kiir’s message to the Parliament, that the parties redouble efforts to pass the remaining outstanding bills.
We are delighted at the resumption of the talks last week between the Transitional Government and the Non-Signatory South Sudanese Opposition Group (NSSOG) under the auspices of the Sant’ Edigio Community. Although the parties have not been able to agree on the agenda yet, we hope that before the next sitting, they will reach a consensus on the subject and be able to make concrete progress.
I note with concern that since the last plenary, there have been further delays in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement. Since 3 March, following the removal of the Minister of Defense and swapping the Defense and Interior ministries between the SPLM and the SPLM-IO, there has been limited progress, including in other priority areas requiring their attention.
In this regard, we commend Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy of Ethiopia and the high-level delegation of Sudan who have reacted early and engaged with the parties to encourage them to find common ground. We appreciate the consistent and timely efforts demonstrated by the IGAD guarantors.
We also acknowledge the ongoing efforts of the Presidency and express our hope that the parties will still be able to find an amicable solution to the impasse.
As part of a quartet of IGAD, AU, and RJMEC, UNMISS appeals to the parties to maintain collaboration and consensus-building in the letter and spirit of the Revitalized Agreement to complete the transitional period as promised in the Roadmap.
At the last RJMEC plenary, we heard the transitional mechanisms describe how the lack of funding had limited their operations slowing down their progress and momentum. Therefore, we call upon the Transitional Government to make the necessary budgetary allocations to the mechanisms to ensure they achieve their critical and time-bound functions.
I call on the parties to expedite, without further delay, the adoption of the National Elections Act to allow the reconstitution of the National Elections Commission and, in turn, the commencement of the electoral preparations. The operationalization of the Political Parties Act is also due. Furthermore, we encourage the Government to reconstitute the Political Parties Council so that the parties can begin registration and preparation for elections.
We are concerned that the reconstitution of the National Constitutional Review Commission and other constitution-related implementing bodies are lagging behind the agreed timelines. We hope to see progress following the timeline proposed by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in January.
Over the past month, humanitarian efforts have largely been focused on ongoing life-saving activities, pre-positioning commodities, including food, ahead of the onset of the rainy season. In Jonglei, these efforts have been thwarted with multiple deadly attacks on commercial and humanitarian traffic. A number of commercial contracted convoys to move food assistance were attacked moving along the roads in Greater Jonglei area. Two of the commercial convoy staff were killed during these incidents, which led WFP to pause movements. Following strong statements condemning the attacks by the State Governor and the National Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, the convoy movement has recommenced. Heavy rains are now impacting the road condition making physical access a challenge.
In Malakal, the Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of cholera. Laboratory-confirmed cases have been identified in Malakal town and among patients in the POC site. The greater proportion of cases is among the under five-year-olds, with under one-year-olds the worst affected. As of 28 March, the Ministry of Health reported 559 cases with two deaths. The Ministry of Health Incident Management System has been stood up to cope with the response, in a holistic, cross-pillar approach.
The recent visit of the President to the greater Bahr el Ghazal region has created avenues for lasting peace in the Abyei region. I commend the Dinka Ngok and the Dinka Twic communities for their open and frank discussion with the President on the border disputes and for agreeing to a set of commitments to address them. We urge all national actors to genuinely engage at the local level and national levels to resolve intercommunal conflicts to assure citizens of their safety, security, and justice.
In closing, I would like to inform this plenary that the United Nations Security Council renewed the UNMISS mandate on 15 March with the same four pillars: protection of civilians; creation of conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance; supporting the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement and the peace process, and monitoring, investigating and reporting on violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights. The Council has also strengthened UNMISS’ mandate on the protection of civilians.
Furthermore, the Security Council calls on the mission to support conducive conditions for civic and political space ahead of the elections, transitional security arrangements, and an inclusive constitutional review process.
The principle of partnerships has always underpinned our strategic vision and we will continue to closely collaborate with IGAD, AU, and RJMEC, along with the broader international community to assist South Sudan in support of the ongoing political and peace processes.
I thank you.