Progress and momentum as National Consultations on Solutions Initiative get underway in South Sudan

The IGAD Chair, the IGAD secretary and the UNHCR Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa at the high-level meeting in Khartoum, Sudan | Photo: UNHCR

Press Statement

Juba – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), UNHCR, the Refugee Agency and partners, applaud progress toward lasting solutions for forcibly displaced persons as national consultations took place last week in Juba, South Sudan.

The two day event successfully marked another milestone for South Sudan’s implementation of the Sudan and South Sudan Solutions Initiative, under the auspices of IGAD, following the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial National Technical Committee (NTC) and hosting the second High-Level technical meeting in Juba in early January.

The workshop was attended by over 70 persons, both virtually and in person, including representation of those internally displaced, refugee returnees and host communities in Bentiu, Bor, Jamjang, Maban, Malakal, Wau and Yambio. Refugees hosted in Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda also actively participated virtually.

“As fragile peace holds and the number of people seeking solutions increases, we have a unique opportunity before us,” expressed Arafat Jamal, UNHCR Representative to South Sudan. “This process belongs to the government as well as the people of South Sudan, and I welcome the continued robust participation of displaced people as state level consultations are rolled out.”

IGAD commended the Government of South Sudan for the progress witnessed in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), which provides prospects for durable solutions for millions of displaced populations.

Reflecting the cross-cutting challenges and collaborative spirit needed to create conditions that would allow for solutions, the Government of South Sudan was represented by the Office of the President and Vice President, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) and Commissioner for Refugees Affairs (CRA). In addition, government line ministries, including Gender, Land, Housing and Urban Planning, Education, Health, General Education and Foreign Affairs took part. In addition, representatives from the United Nations, IGAD and civil society participated.

Key priorities raised at the dynamic workshop include accountability and transparent governance; security such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; peace building; restoration of social services; coordination of returns and support in return areas; and partnerships to ensure solutions are sustainable.

With some 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees hosted in neighbouring countries, another 1.6 million internally displaced and some 360,000 refugees spontaneously returned to South Sudan, their voices at all stages, including in consultative and dialogue processes that are shaping the path to peace, remains vital. The next step on the way towards the IGAD Heads of State Summit is the launch of state level consultations including outreach to government counterparts, internally displaced people, refugees, returnees, as well as the communities hosting them. The findings of the consultations will inform the drafting of a solutions strategy.

Recognizing that there are still significant obstacles in the way of refugees returning home, any return must be voluntary. UNHCR remains committed to supporting the respective governments in their efforts to create the conditions on the ground that will allow for safe, dignified and sustainable return and integration.

IGAD commends S. Sudan’s contribution to regional peace

IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ismail Wais and President Kiir discuss status of the implementation on September 12, 2019.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in a statement, commends South Sudan’s recent offer to settle border-related disputes between Sudan and the Federal Democratic Ethiopia.

Speaking on Monday as the country marked its First Anniversary since the formation of South Sudan’s unity government, the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Amb. Ismail Wais applauded South Sudan’s role in promoting regional peace and stability.

“IGAD also recognizes and appreciates the significant contribution that South Sudan is making to regional peace and stability by successfully hosting and mediating the Sudan talks as well as by offering to mediate between Ethiopia and Sudan to help peacefully resolve the ongoing border dispute between the two countries. This is one clear indication that besides the people of South Sudan the neighboring countries and the region at large are reaping the fruits of peace in South Sudan.”

Earlier this month, the world’s youngest country offered to calm border tensions between Sudan and neighboring Ethiopia after months of military confrontations.

South Sudan has succeeded in brokering the Juba Peace Agreement between the Sudanese unity government and opposition groups, but failed to restore its own peace.

On the same note, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, called on the South Sudanese parties to commit to the implementation of the peace agreement.

All in all, the last one year has witnessed a mixed-bag of progresses and delays with regard to the implementation of the R-ARCSS, and it is the right time for the Parties and Stakeholders of the R-ARCSS to take stock of achievements and challenges and have a genuine discussion and dialogue on the way forward.

IGAD issues statement on the 1st Anniversary of R-TGoNU formation

IGAD issues a statement on the 1st Anniversary of the formation of unity government | Photo: File

Press Statement

The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Amb. Ismail Wais (PhD) would like to congratulate the Parties and Stakeholders to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), the people of South Sudan as well as IGAD Member States and the International Community as we mark the first year anniversary of the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) on 22nd February 2020.

A year on, commendable progress has been made particularly in the implementation of governance related tasks under Chapter I of the R-ARCSS considering the confluence of natural calamities that have hit South Sudan ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding and locust invasion.

Thus far, the Executive, composed of the Presidency and the Council of Ministers, has been formed; the Governors and Deputy Governors of the ten (10) States as well the Chief Administrators of the three (3) Administrative Areas have all been appointed; and agreements have been reached on the structures and allocation of remaining positions at the State and Local Government levels as well as in the three (3) Administrative Areas. The ceasefire is largely holding, which is creating a relatively conducive environment for the overall implementation of the R-ARCSS.

However, despite these encouraging progresses, a year after the commencement of the Transitional Period, some critical Pre-Transitional tasks which were carried over are yet to be completed. The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) has not been reconstituted; nomination and appointment of State and Local Government positions, other than the ones referred to hereinabove, are pending; and training and unification of forces is way behind schedule.

With respect to unification of forces, as the recent joint visit by regional Ambassadors, RJMEC and IGAD to Maridi and Rajaf Training Centers revealed, the situation in the camps is deplorable with no adequate food, shelter, water and medicines. Moreover, there seems to be no clear timeline for the graduation of the first batch of Necessary Unified Forces (NUF) forcing many to abandon their camps.
Therefore, no significant development has occurred with regard to Transitional Security Arrangements in the last one (1) year.

Defections and ensuing clashes between some forces is further eroding trust among the Parties and threatening the hard won peace in South Sudan. Cattle raiding and intercommunal conflicts also continue to claim the lives of civilians unabated and are alarmingly becoming more deadly and devastating posing additional threat to the already fragile security situation in the country.

Due to the delay in the implementation of Pre-Transitional tasks, implementation of Transitional Period tasks have either stalled or not commenced at all especially those under Chapters V and VI of the R-ARCSS on Transitional Justice and Permanent Constitution making respectively.

In this regard, IGAD welcomes the recent decision of the South Sudan Council of Ministers authorizing the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs to start preparations for the establishment of Transitional Justice Mechanisms under Chapter V of the R-ARCSS and lauds the Minister’s quick decision and action in establishing a Taskforce to spearhead and coordinate the Ministry’s work in the implementation of Chapters V, VI and judicial reforms under Chapter I.
The humanitarian crisis and food insecurity have been exacerbated by natural and manmade disasters.

According to reports from UNOCHA, in 2021 over 8.3 million people in South Sudan are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, that is hundreds of thousands more from last year. The economy is also severely affected by the cummulative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, plunging of oil prices and soaring inflation.

The ongoing talks between the Government of South Sudan and the non-signatory group, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA) under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio have registered encouraging results since January last year, and IGAD hopes that the talks will be concluded with positive outcomes within the shortest time possible.

IGAD also recognizes and appreciates the significant contribution that South Sudan is making to regional peace and stability by successfully hosting and mediating the Sudan talks as well as by offering to mediate between Ethiopia and Sudan to help peacefully resolve the ongoing border dispute between the two countries. This is one clear indication that besides the people of South Sudan the neighboring countries and the region at large are reaping the fruits of peace in South Sudan.

All in all, the last one year has witnessed a mixed-bag of progresses and delays with regard to the implementation of the R-ARCSS, and it is the right time for the Parties and Stakeholders of the R-ARCSS to take stock of achievements and challenges and have a genuine discussion and dialogue on the way forward.

The Parties need to renew their commitment and redouble efforts towards a speedy and full implementation of the RARCSS in letter and spirit, including the adherence of the 35% women representation, within the resources available. In this regard, priority shall be given to unification of forces as that is the backbone of the R-ACRSS.

IGAD and the Office of the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan are committed and will continue providing and facilitating political and technical support, within their means and mandate, to the Peace Process in South Sudan, and also call upon the International Partners and Friends of South Sudan to continue and enhance their support towards the implementation of the R-ARCSS.

Newsflash: Ethiopia declares war on Sudan as tensions reach boiling point

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed / File

The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a strongly-worded statement, condemning the incursion of the Sudanese armed forces into Ethiopian territory and accused an unnamed third party of being behind this border-conflict between the two countries.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia condemns in the strongest possible terms the escalation and provocative behavior of the Government of the Sudan regarding the boundary issue between Ethiopia and the Sudan. Ethiopia believes that any conflict between our two countries would only result in a colossal collateral damage and jeopardizes the well- being of the two nations,” the Ethiopian government said on Thursday.

The Ethiopian government underscored that an all-out conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia could have detrimental impact on the region and jeopardize ongoing efforts to bring the two countries to the negotiating table.

“Therefore, the Ethiopian government strongly believes that the conflict being trumpeted by the Sudanese government’s military wing could only serve the interests of a third party at the expense of the Sudanese people. It is to be noted that the two governments have sufficient mechanisms to deal with any claims and counter-claims of the border or any territorial claims. However, the Sudanese National Army violated the basic principles of international law and peaceful settlements of disputes by unceremoniously invading Ethiopia in carly November 2020.”

“In doing so, Sudan has violated the bilateral boundary agreements, which stipulate non-displacement of nationals of either nation from their farms jointly registered by the two Governments, the status quo of which shall be maintained until the disposition of the case by an agreement.

“The Sudanese side has also overturned and undermined the efforts of the joint boundary committees that have been making tireless efforts to finalize the re-demarcation process of the common boundary. Contrary to the spirit of friendship and cooperation existing between our two brotherly countries, the Sudanese Army looted properties, burned camps, attacked and displaced thousands of Ethiopians and controlled vacated Ethiopian Military Camps.”

“What is more deplorable is, in an apparent misrepresentation of the facts on the ground, Sudan is deliberately engaged in misinformation campaigns against Ethiopia by accusing the victim as an aggressor, evading accountability by shifting blame and camouflaging its belligerence and continue its provocation in an attempt to control more lands.”

“Amidst of all these escalatory and provocative behaviour of the Sudan, Ethiopia has shown a great deal of patience, remained restrained from exercising its legitimate right of self-defence and time and again expressed its commitment to a peaceful settlement of differences regarding the boundary through existing bilateral agreements and joint border mechanisms. What is needed is a political will of the two governments, which would enable them reach at an amicable solution.”

“Ethiopia firmly believes in the long standing fraternal relations between the people of Ethiopia and Sudan regardless of the nature of their respective governments. The attempt being made by the Sudanese Amy to push the friendly pcoples of Ethiopia and Sudan to unwarranted war is a serious blunder that will undermine their peace, stability and development of the two nations in particular and the region in general. Ethiopia while reiterating its commitment for a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue, once again calls upon the government of the Sudan to reverse the aggression, desist from provocation and resort to a peaceful settlement of the boundary issue.”

“Therefore, the Ethiopian government would like to call upon the people of the Sudan to check on its government from serving a third party interest which only would result in the determent of the two nations. Furthermore, Ethiopia calls upon brotherly African countries to advice the Sudanese government to finalize the border issues through available mechanisms in peaceful manner. The government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia also thanks the people of Ethiopia for showing maximum patience and profound understanding.”

Machar receives high-level delegations from the AU, IGAD & R-JMEC

First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar discusses peace implementation with Special Envoy from the AU, IGAD and JMEC |Photo: © IGAD Secretariat

South Sudan’s First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar has held a meeting with Special Envoys from the African Union, IGAD and the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC).

According to the office of the Vice President, the meeting centered on the status of implementation of the peace agreement, notably the security arrangements and the long-awaited graduation of the unified forces.

The First Vice President, H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny, today met with a number of Envoys. This includes, Amb. Prof. Joram M. Biswaro, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of AU Mission to South Sudan, Dr. Ismail Wais, IGAD Special Envoy, Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai, Deputy Chairperson the R-JMEC and Amb. Thomson Fontaine, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy.”

“They meeting discussed the implementation of the R-ARCISS, with emphasis on the status of the implementation of the security arrangements and graduation of the necessary unified forces in South Sudan. The process to graduate the unified forces soon is in progress.”

IGAD, EU sign €4.4m grant for Boma-Gambella biodiversity conservation

       By: MoF of Ethiopia 🇪🇹 
IGAD representatives and EU delegation sign a €4.4 Million Agreement on January 24, 2021 in Ethiopia |Photo: © MoF of Ethiopia.
IGAD representatives and EU delegation sign a €4.4 Million Agreement on January 24, 2021 in Ethiopia |Photo: © MoF of Ethiopia.

The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, and the Head of the European Delegation to Djibouti, Ambassador Aidan O’Hara, on Monday (January 24) signed a 4.4 Million Euros Grant Agreement to support IGAD for a Trans-boundary South Sudan-Ethiopia conservation project of biodiversity in the Boma-Gambella landscape.

The Political and Public Diplomacy Plenipotentiary Minister, Melaku Bedada speaking for the Ambassador of Ethiopia to Djibouti, commended the IGAD-EU for materializing the grant agreement.

He reiterated Ethiopia’s unrelenting commitment to further enhancing the collaborative conservation of biodiversity, landscape, and greenery.

Melaku noted this project will engender a remarkable impact on the biodiversity management and livelihoods of communities residing in Boma-Gambella areas and expressed the government’s readiness and full support for its implementation.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Workneh praised the long-standing friendship between IGAD and the European Union that had ‘grown from strength to strength.

This project is the latest in a long line of partnerships and shared initiatives between IGAD and the EU to preserve all that is good in our region and also address the challenges that we face, Dr. Workneh said.

Ambassador O’Hara commended IGAD Secretariat for the cross-border approach it is taking to tackling regional challenges.

He also emphasized how important it is to involve local communities in the implementation of the program and wished the implementing partner, The Wildlife Conservation Society, a success.

IGAD will be in charge of the global coordination of this transboundary project while the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will be the implementing partner.

Ex-South Sudan’s Chief Mediator Seyoum Mesfin is dead

Ex-South Sudan’s Chief Mediator Seyoum Mesfin killed by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces |Photo: File

The Ethiopian government said on Wednesday its military had killed three members of the Tigray region’s former ruling party, including former Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin.

The three Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) officials were killed, and five other party members were captured, after they refused to surrender to the military, the government’s task force for the crisis in Tigray said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government declared victory in its conflict with the TPLF on Nov. 28 last year after nearly a month of fighting.

Fugitive leaders of the TPLF had vowed to continue to fight from the mountains of the region in northern Ethiopia, but Reuters has been unable to contact them for weeks.

The military said last week it had captured Sebhat Nega, a founding member of the TPLF.

At the weekend, it said it had killed 15 members of the TPLF and captured eight others, according to state-run TV.
Seyoum was Ethiopia’s foreign minister from 1991 to 2010.

Air strikes and battles since early November in Tigray are believed to have killed thousands of people. Fighting is continuing in some parts and more than 2 million people need aid, the United Nations said this week.


Originally published by Reuters

Breaking: IGAD wants General Johnson replaced

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has urged the Parties to break the deadlock over the appointment of Upper Nile state’s Governor or replace General Johnson as a last resort.

In an exclusive interview with Thessherald, a senior IGAD official stressed that “since the two main signatories to the peace agreement are left with no choice, there is a need to replace the person in question [General Olony] to break the impasse.”

Since June, President Kiir Mayardit and the First-Vice President Dr. Riek Machar have hit a dead end over the appointment of Upper Nile state’s nominee, General Johnson Olony Thambo. Olony was accused by the Kiir administration of being a warmonger.

The opposition argues that Olony will not set foot in Juba until he is appointed by the President.

Last month, a group of delegates was sent to Juba in preparation for the arrival of General Johnson Olony.

SPLM-IO welcomes lifting of travel restrictions on Machar

Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Chairman of the SPLM-IO (Photo Credit: File)

Dec 23, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Office of the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, has strongly welcomed the recent communique issued at the 38th Extraordinary Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government on December 20, 2020 in Djibouti.

“The Office of the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, and Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) welcomes IGAD resolution number 9 on the freedom of H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon, as came out from the 38th Extraordinary Assembly of the Heads of State and Government, in Djibouti, on 20th December, 2020.”

On Sunday, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) clarified that there are currently no travel restrictions or bans imposed on the First Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar and that he is free to travel anywhere in the world.

“The Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government underscored that currently there are no travel restrictions of any kind imposed by IGAD on the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar Teny,” the IGAD said in a communique issued on Sunday.

Machar had been under house arrest in South Africa, and later in the Sudan capital Khartoum. After the signing of the peace deal, Igad officials said the restrictions had been lifted, but had not made formal documentation of it.

IGAD says Machar is “free” to travel anywhere in the world

IGAD's Heads of State and Government at 38th Extraordinary Assembly held in Djibouti |Photo: © IGAD Secretariat
IGAD’s Heads of State and Government at 38th Extraordinary Assembly held in Djibouti |Photo: © IGAD Secretariat

Dec 21, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has denied reports speculating that the country’s First Vice-President, Dr. Riek Machar, is still under “house arrest” in the capital, Juba.

In a statement issued on Sunday following the 38th Extraordinary Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, the East African regional bloc that brokered the South Sudan peace agreement confirmed that the opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar, is free to travel anywhere in the world

“The Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government underscored that currently there are no travel restrictions of any kind imposed by IGAD on the First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar Teny,” the IGAD said in a communique issued on Sunday.

Regarding the implementation of the peace agreement, the IGAD commends the South Sudanese leaders for having achieved an important milestone in implementing outstanding issues.

“The Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government acknowledged the milestones achieved through the Rome Initiative towards engaging the non-signatory groups to the peace process in South Sudan and the need to bring the talks and the negotiating parties closer to the people of South Sudan,” the statement added.

Despite being part of the coalition government, Machar has been in a situation similar to House Hetention, as he is not allowed to travel in and out of the country.

Last month, the SPLA-IO’s top military commanders expressed their frustration and demanded the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to allow Machar to visit his forces and brief them on the status of the agreement.

South Sudan’s government and opposition groups signed the R-ARCSS in September 2018, that marked an end to deadly violence that has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions from their homes.

Makuei denies Machar’s alleged house arrest

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