UN-AU-IGAD delegation says delay in forming a transitional government in South Sudan must be “the last one”
A high-powered delegation from the United Nations, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development has urged South Sudan’s leaders to make urgent efforts to fully implement the peace deal for the sake of their people.
At a press conference in the capital Juba, the delegation said it supported the unanimous decision by the parties to delay the formation of a transitional government for a further six months. However, it said the extension of time should not be repeated.
“We are saying quite clearly that this extension should be the last one,” said African Union Peace and Security Commissioner, Smail Chergui. “We are expecting the parties now to make every effort possible, every sacrifice, so that we have the transitional government in place by November.”
The visit to South Sudan is being led by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Smail Chergui and the IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais.
“Our purpose is to be supportive so that the next six months after this extension of the pre-transitional period will be used to generate substantial advances in the implementation of the peace agreement to improve the lives of millions of South Sudanese,” said the UN Under-Secretary-General.
“We are jointly committed to being supportive, not only in words, but in concrete terms with practical support, with whatever funding our organizations could either provide or encourage others to provide. This is very much a collective undertaking.”
The delegation said it was encouraged by the fact the cessation of hostilities had largely held since the peace agreement was signed last September. While the humanitarian situation remain dire, the improved security across the country is enabling humanitarian agencies to more easily reach those in need with assistance.
“We have a lot to do and a long way to go and we are not at the end of the process, in fact we are starting with some very challenging activities,” said IGAD Special Envoy, Ismail Wais. “Rest assured our three institutions will do everything possible to cooperate with the rest of the international community to mobilize the necessary support for this peace process.”
The South Sudan government has committed to providing US$100 million to enable the full implementation of the peace agreement and to resolve outstanding issues, including the formation of a unified security force and decisions about boundaries and and numbers of states.
The delegation said it was also vital that issues of justice were addressed, particularly in relation to holding perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence to account.
“We are ready to sign immediately the Memorandum of Understanding relating to the hybrid court. We want it in place as soon as possible,” said Ambassador Smail Chergui.
During its flying visit to the war-torn country, the delegation has met twice with President Salva Kiir and ministers as well as holding discussions with the National Pre-Transitional Committee, which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement. It also met with women’s groups and committed to helping them achieve the target of 35% representation of women in the armed forces and the new government.
“The primary responsibility [for implementing the agreement] lies with the South Sudanese people themselves and primarily with the parties, in particular with the leaders – that is clear,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix. “But we want to be supportive, to be helpful, so the South Sudanese can make the right decisions. We will help with technical assistance, capacity-building, material and financial support and, of course, political support to make sure that whatever good decisions are made are adequately supported.”