A former African head of state has called upon South Sudanese leaders in government and in the opposition to immediately denounce violence and embark on building sustainable peace in the country.
Speaking during a Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) meeting held in Juba on Tuesday, Mr. Festus Mogae, head of South Sudan’s peace monitoring body (JMEC), challenged President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar to use various platforms to reform their fighters whose activities are marring the reputation of the country.
(Above), Festus Mogae, the head of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which monitors the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement, which was signed last year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
His remarks came after multiple reports from the United Nations over repeated breakdown of the ceasefire agreement by both government and rebel fighters. He said persistent violence perpetrated by the warring factions in the country posed the greatest challenge to implementation of the peace agreement.
“Almost daily, we receive reports of violence from around the country, that seems to remind us of the enormity of our task, and the very fragile nature of peace in the country,” he said.
He said JMEC’s primary concern was the immediate restoration of the ceasefire agreement, which has been violated by both sides of the conflict.
“I am dismayed to report that there is no evidence of meaningful progress in that regard,” he added.
Mr. Mogae revealed that fighting in Equatoria region was accompanied by gross human rights violations, committed by both government and rebels, and other armed groups. He said the war in South Sudan had become a burden to the international community as well as the continent at large.
Earlier on, the East African Community (EAC) warned that the conflict in the young nation could spark instability in the whole region if fighting remains unabated.
Some countries in the region such as Ethiopia and Sudan have already closed their doors on Dr. Machar, after he declared a fresh war with President Kiir after being deposed in the fighting that occurred in July.
The South Sudanese rebel leader was denied entry by both Ethiopian and Sudanese authorities on Monday and was forced to return to South Africa where he has been living.
However, Mr. Mogae urged President Kiir to implement his declaration of amnesty to the rebels, including to Dr. Machar.
He urged warring factions in the country to use dialogue and laid down channels in addressing grievances instead of resorting to violence.
He said peace and security was crucial in achieving economic stability and general development in the young nation.
Mr. Mogae was appointed by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) heads of state in 2015, to head the committee as per the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCRSS), which required the peace monitoring body to headed by a prominent African.