JUBA – South Sudan activist Rajab Muhandis resigned on Sunday from the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission. Below is his full text letter to the South Sudan Civil Society Forum detailing his resignation.
September 12, 2021
South Sudan Civil Society Forum (SSCSF),
Juba, South Sudan.
Re: Letter of Resignation from RJMEC
This letter is to inform you and the membership of SSCSF of my intention to resign from my position and responsibilities as the representative of SSCSF in RJMEC effective September 12, 2021, the occasion of the third anniversary of the signing of the R-ARCSS.
Mr. Chairman, I tender this resignation with full respect for the content of the R-ARCSS. That, if the peace agreement was implemented in letter and spirit, and in consistently sequential and timely manner, as outlined in the implementation matrix, it would have restored lasting peace in our country, reformed institutions, set the country on the path to recovery and development, guarantee safety of the people and would have allowed those displaced and in refuge to return home.
Mr. Chairman, my resignation comes after careful evaluation of the status of implementation of the R-ARCSS and drawing a conclusion that maintaining support for the stalled Juba-centric peace process is no longer in the best interest of the suffering masses in the country and in the refugee settlements. The following are therefore some of the reasons for my resignation:
- Resolutions of RJMEC plenary sessions; and reports and recommendations of mechanisms and the Secretariat are not being meaningfully implemented. For example, for the last three years, all the mechanisms have been presenting almost exactly the same issues and recommendations, but the government, which is mandated to implement them, takes no actions whatsoever.
- Those mandated by Article 1.1.1 of the R-ARCSS to implement the peace agreement have lost confidence in the peace process. While launching the Workshop on the Constitution Making Process on July 25, 2021, the President publicly declared that the peace agreement is too complicated to be implemented, and that those who designed the agreement did not intend that it would be implemented.
The latest report of the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan’, released on April 15, 2021, further confirms this loss of confidence of the parties in the peace implementation. Paragraph 18 of the report in part states that “As a result, many of the same political and military leaders told the Panel that they had lost hope in the Agreement. In interviews with the Panel, officials from SPLM, SPLM/ A-IO and the South Sudan Opposition Alliance cited various reasons for their dissatisfaction with the Agreement, but they mostly agreed that the slow pace of implementation and the shifting political stances of some of the signatories had made the Agreement unlikely to be implemented”. A process whose main implementers have lost faith in it cannot be the same source of hope for the resolution of the multiple and worsening crises in the country.
- The R-ARCSS continues to fail to deliver on all its core mandates including security, economy, humanitarian situation, institutional reforms and transitional justice. For example, estimates in the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan show that in 2018 when the Agreement was signed, about 7.0 million South Sudanese needed humanitarian assistance. However, three years into the implementation of the R-ARCSS today, 8.3 million South Sudanese are now in need of humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, there are no accurate estimates of the thousands of people who have been killed in violence over this period as a direct result of the failure to deliver peace through this agreement. Critically, the agreement has not been used effectively to develop government capacity to fully govern the country and protect civilians from violence.
- The inconsistencies in the peace implementation are only setting the country up for more crises. For example, delays to implement the transitional security arrangements present serious security threats to the peace process and the civil population. Soldiers desert the cantonment sites and training centers and return to civilian areas with their guns while others, like in Kit Gwang, resort to mass defections all because of frustrations with the failure to implement the transitional security arrangements.
- Citizens are not freely allowed to contribute to the peace process. On several occasions, civil society meetings on the peace agreement are either not approved or interrupted and closed down by National Security Service. 6. Implementation of the R-ARCSS is characterized by establishment of institutions, including legislative bodies that remain largely dysfunctional, not delivering on their stipulated mandates. In the RJMEC plenary sessions, the security mechanisms including the DDR Commission agonize so much trying to find support and resources to implement their mandates. Their pleas mainly end on the floor of the plenary at the conclusion of each session.
- Lastly, there is no hope in a national process that is implemented in piece meal fashion only after intense regional and international pressure.
Considering these observations, I have decided to tender my resignation from the membership of RJMEC. Henceforth, I will support the People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA) to use peaceful demonstrations to demand for a meaningful transition and an end to the crises in the country. I call upon civil society representatives in all R-ARCSS mechanisms to pull out of them to avoid being instrumentalized to propagate the ongoing political deception in the country.
I thank the Forum, for the trust and confidence to allow me to represent civil society in RJMEC. I equally commend the serious and committed members and Secretariat of the Commission for their cooperation over the years. I commend the officers in the security mechanisms for their dedication and professionalism in trying to do their work in such a stalled political process. Their cooperation across the partisan divides maintained the forces under control and was mainly responsible for the partial adherence to the permanent ceasefire in the country over the last three years.