Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 31 October 2019

Suspend formation of South Sudan unity government


By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi

With less than two weeks remaining for the scheduled formation of South Sudan Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity RTGoNU, it has become clearer that the best option for peace is to suspend the formation of the RTGoNU by extending the pre-transitional period, preferably by three months to allow for the implementation of the security arrangements and the remaining critical tasks.

Several parts of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) have not been implemented.

Implementation of Security Arrangements behind schedule

While making the current extended pre-transitional period, the parties to the R-ACSS acknowledged in a joint resolution that the “unification of necessary forces is the most critical determining factor for the formation” of the unity government.

IGAD Council of Ministers then resolved that at least half of the required 83,000 Necessary Unified Forces “be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed before the end of September 2019.”

But this has not taken place as we are already at the end of October.

On Monday, the Chairman of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism CTSAMVM Maj. Gen. Desta Abiche Ageno said CTSAMVM has observed that no training of the Necessary Unified Forces – including the VIP Protection Force - has taken place.

He, however, said that Training of Trainers has been completed at Mapel and Luri, adding that “Approximately 1,500 trainers graduated, with around 960 more trainers undergoing training at Malakal.”

Recently, a source said that 60, 000 troops have registered and will “soon be trained” though without mentioning how soon.

All these means more time and resources are needed so that at least half of the required 83,000 Necessary Unified Forces shall be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed. It also means that the government should release a substantial amount out of the $100 million it pledged for the implementation of the pre-transitional period.

It is worth recalling that, during the peace negotiations, it was the stance of the government that let there be unified forces and one Commander-in-Chief by the start of the transitional period. So they should fulfil their obligations including financing the security arrangements, as required by the agreement.

Without the required Necessary Unified Forces be cantoned and barracked, trained and deployed the situation will be extremely volatile.

As Dr Lam Akol, the Secretary-General of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance SSOA and the leader of the National Democratic Movement NDM pointed out in his notes to the UN Security Council recent delegation to Juba, “This time the security situation will be more serious. Formation of the TGoNU before completing putting together the necessary unified force (NUF) would mean not two armies as was the case in 2015 but multiple armies.”

Other Pending Tasks

If the government deposits the remaining balance of the $100 million it pledged and the implementation of the security arrangements as well as the enactment or reforms of the required legislation including those of the security sector register progress, it shall become easier to find a political solution on the number of states in South Sudan and their boundaries.

The above can also lead to an agreement between the parties on areas of differences and the passing by the incumbent Legislative Assembly of the Bill incorporating the R-ARCSS into the Transitional Constitution of The Republic of South Sudan.

On the Supremacy of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (TCRSS), Article 3 (1) provides that “This Constitution derives its authority from the will of the people and shall be the supreme law of the land. It shall have a binding force on all persons, institutions, organs and agencies of government throughout the Country.”

And Article 3 (2) stipulates that “The authority of government at all levels shall derive from this Constitution and the law.”

It is in that sense that it is important to incorporate the R-ARCSS which is currently unrecognized by the TCRSS into the Transitional Constitution.

You cannot swear in the RTGoNU using a Constitution that has not incorporated the very R-ARCSS, for it is through the incorporation of the R-ARCSS into the TCRSS that the RTGoNU shall gain legitimacy and legality.

The fear of the Hybrid Court against the incorporation of the R-ARCSS is an error since it is now provided that the prosecution shall be done “where necessary.”

Forming a government without incorporating the R-ARCSS into the Transitional Constitution is not only a road towards being illegitimate but also a recipe for a collapse or being challenged legally.

Regional and International special envoys recently met in Djibouti, discussed the implementation of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement and recommended that the peace parties meet before November 12th deadline.

It has been reported that Igad special envoy to South Sudan Amb. Ismail Wais said the regional bloc which mediated the peace peal will not force the parties to form a government on November 12th.

"Wais who emphasized that the mediators would offer a coordinated push to move the process further said the regional body has ’not received any official communication from the SPLM-IO declining to take part in the next government.’" the report added.

On their part, the United States has warned it will not accept any transitional unity government in Juba that excludes Dr Machar.

"When we talk about the unity government, in terms of the peace agreement, this peace agreement is where the mandate for the government will come from and if you don’t have that unity government coming together, where will the mandate come from?" US Ambassador to South Sudan Thomas Hushek was quoted by The Dawn Newspaper as saying.

While some parties to the R-ARCSS are for the formation of the RTGoNU by November, the SPLM/A-IO led by Dr Riek Machar has called for six months extension of the pre-transitional period while the NDM of Dr Lam Akol has called for two.

It is against the above background on the remaining critical tasks that suspension of the formation of the unity government through a three months extension of the pre-transitional period is absolutely necessary for the security arrangements and the other critical tasks to register the needed progress.

What will be required during the extension is a clear commitment from the government to release the funds pledged and a clear political will from all the parties to fulfil their obligations under the Agreement.

Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, a South Sudanese journalist, is a former Editor-in-Chief of Radio Bakhita and Managing Editor of Juba Monitor Newspaper living in exile. He previously worked for, among other media houses, The Citizen Newspaper and freelance for The Nation Mirror Newspaper both of which have been shut down by the National Security Service. He has a background in law. He can be reached via rogeryoron@gmail.com or his twitter handle @RogerYoronModi

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