South Sudan urged to end death penalty as evidence shows children among dead

Rise in state-sanctioned executions condemned by Amnesty International as ‘outdated and inhuman’
A prison guard walks along a perimeter wall at the central prison in Rumbek, in South Sudan’s Lakes state. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

Children are among those being executed in South Sudan, in an “extremely disturbing” escalation of the state’s use of the death penalty, according to Amnesty International.

This year, seven people, including one child, were hanged, the highest number since the county gained independence in 2011 , according to evidence provided to Amnesty by legal professionals and government officials.

In 2017, two of the four people executed were children at the time of their conviction, the organisation said.

Among the 342 people currently on death row – more than double the number recorded in 2011 – are a secondary school pupil, who was sentenced to death when he was 15, and a breastfeeding mother. The country’s lack of transparency on its use of the death penalty meant the figures were likely to be underestimated, Amnesty said.

The rise in executions is happening at a time when the world is moving away from death sentences.

Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s east Africa director, said: “It is extremely disturbing that the world’s youngest nation has embraced this outdated, inhuman practice and is executing people, even children, at a time when the rest of the world is abandoning this abhorrent punishment.

“The president of South Sudan must stop signing execution orders and end this obvious violation of the right to life.”

More than 100 countries, out of 195 globally, have abolished the death penalty. South Sudan and Somalia were the only countries in the region that carried out judicial executions in 2017.

The use of the death sentence or penalty against a person under 18 at the time a crime was committed is a breach of the South Sudanese 2011 transitional constitution, in addition to international human rights laws and standards. The execution of a mother caring for a young child would also contravene South Sudanese law and international laws and standards.

Philip Deng* was found guilty of murder when he was 15, following a trial in which he did not have any legal representation. Deng claims the crime was an accident.

Deng, who will turn 17 in December, said: “Before the accident, I was in secondary school. I was a runner, a very good one, and I was also a singer of gospel and earthly songs … My own aim was to study and do things that can help others. My hope is to be out and to continue with my school,” he said.

Deng, who said he told the judge he was 15, was sentenced to death by hanging on 14 November 2017. He finally gained access to a lawyer, who appealed against the court’s decision. He was transferred from Torit state prison to Juba State central prison in September and is awaiting his appeal.

Since independence, 140 people have been sentenced to death and at least 32 executed. The country, which allows the death penalty for crimes including murder, terrorism, drug trafficking and treason, has carried out executions every year since it acquired independence, except for 2014, when Amnesty did not record any.

An inmate with shackles around his ankles skips over an open trench at Rumbek’s central prison in South Sudan. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

This year’s spate of executions appears to have been prompted by a directive by the director-general of South Sudan’s national prison service on 26 April, in which all death row prisoners held at county and state prisons were ordered to be moved to two of the country’s most notorious prisons – Wau central prison and Juba central prison.

South Sudan, which has been embroiled in a civil war between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel groups since 2013, signed a peace accord in October.

Before a person sentenced to death can be executed, the supreme court and the president must confirm the death sentence.

In all, 23 countries carried out 993 executions in 2017, with nearly 22,000 people on death row; worldwide, there was a small drop in the number of executions carried out.

In 2017, there was a significant decrease in death sentences imposed across Sub-Saharan Africa.

* Name changed to protect identity

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At scene of South Sudan mass rape, ‘no one could hear me’

9 DECEMBER 2018, 12:27PM / BY SAM MEDNICK

n this photo taken Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, an 18-year-old woman recounts the day in early November when she and a friend were bound, dragged into the bush and raped by four men with guns, as she sits in a hospital in Nhialdu, South Sudan. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NHIALDIU — Wrapping an arm around her stomach, the young woman hung her head and recounted the day in early November when she and a friend were bound, dragged into the bush and raped by four men with guns.

“My body hasn’t been the same since,” the 18-year-old said. The men attacked during an hours-long walk home to the South Sudan village of Nhialdiu.

“I was crying and screaming but I was so far from the village that no one could hear me,” she told The Associated Press, which doesn’t identify survivors of sexual assault.

In an exclusive look at the aftermath, the AP joined a U.N. peacekeeping patrol where the attacks occurred as humanitarians, rights groups and South Sudan’s government scrambled to find out more.

Rape has been used widely as a weapon in South Sudan. Even after a peace deal was signed in September to end a five-year civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people, humanitarians have warned of higher rates of sexual assault as growing numbers of desperate people try to reach aid.

While some aid groups have quietly questioned whether all 125 people in the Doctors With Borders report were raped, they do not dispute that the problem has become grave.

The 18-year-old was not included in that report, and the real toll of sexual assault is not known.

Joining the U.N. patrol on Friday, the AP traveled the potholed road where the recent assaults took place. Shrouded by trees and elephant grass, some stretches provide cover for perpetrators to lurk.

Several local women said the violence is escalating.

Nyalgwon Mol Moon said she was held at gunpoint last month while two men in civilian clothes, their faces covered, stole her clothes, her shoes and the milk she meant to sell at market. Standing beside the road, pointing to her borrowed, oversized sneakers, she said she now tries to take alternative routes on her weekly walks to Bentiu.

She has no other choice. Food in Nhialdiu and nearby villages is scarce. Most people could not cultivate last season because of fighting and too much rain. Many rely on monthly aid from the U.N.’s World Food Program.

That means a walk of almost 40 kilometers (24 miles) to Bentiu town. Unable to carry the heavy rations back in one trip, most women leave some behind with relatives and make several journeys throughout the month.

Some said they make the 11-hour trek at least six times.

Alarmed by the sexual assaults, the World Food Program said it is prepared to bring distribution points closer to communities. The U.N. is now clearing the road from Bentiu to Nhialdiu of debris to make access easier.

No one has taken responsibility for the wave of assaults that the U.N. and African Union have condemned as “abhorrent” and “predatory.”

South Sudan’s government has acknowledged the assaults occurred in areas it controls, on the road between Nhialdiu and Bentiu and in surrounding villages. But it blames them on “unregulated youth” who fought alongside warring factions before the peace deal, Laraka Machar Turoal, deputy governor of Northern Liech state that was once part of Unity, told the AP.

Youth who were never officially integrated with armed groups have been left idle, guns in hand, to take what they want by force, Turoal said.

South Sudan’s government has called on all sides to demobilize the youth. It said it has deployed troops to areas in Unity state suspected of harboring criminals.

And yet the army in Nhialdiu has not detained anyone in the assaults and denies responsibility for finding the perpetrators, said John Dor, army commander for the area. He said they took place far from town, outside his jurisdiction.

But several local people said they knew of attacks in villages less than 15 kilometers from the army base. Some who were attacked at gunpoint said they believe the armed youth are affiliated with government troops. The government has done nothing so far to stop the violence, one woman explained.

The U.N., which has increased patrols, is pushing South Sudan’s government to take more responsibility. The U.N. Security Council in a statement on Saturday noted its willingness to impose sanctions on those who threaten the peace, including by sexual violence.

“They’re obliged to make sure everyone’s protected … it’s not enough just to sit in one place and not be involved,” said Paul Adejoh Ebikwo, the U.N. mission’s senior civil affairs officer in Bentiu.

Unity state was one of the hardest-hit areas in the civil war, and Bentiu has changed hands several times. Government and opposition forces remain at odds, even as factions across the country try to reconcile. A meeting on Thursday to build trust was canceled because the parties couldn’t agree on a place to meet, said the independent monitoring group charged with overseeing the peace deal’s implementation.

Meanwhile, many women and girls are terrified.

Cautiously peering through the trees, several hesitantly emerged from the bush, inching toward the side of the road.

“We’re walking here because we’re scared of coming on the main path,” said Nyachieng Gatman. Three days ago, she said, she met a breast-feeding mother and young girl who had been raped in a nearby town.

Standing beside her, 11-year Anchankual Dood lowered her heavy bag of grain and gulped from a bottle of water.

“It’s a long distance to go and come from Bentiu,” the girl said. “But we do it because we need food and because we’re suffering.”

AP

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‘Life is miserable’: Even when there’s food in South Sudan, many can’t afford it

Women carry bags of food home after an aerial food drop by the World Food Program in the town of Kandak, South Sudan, in May. (Sam Mednick/AP)

November 18 at 5:00 AM

 If a teacher in South Sudan wants to buy a chicken for dinner, he would have to save everything he earns for two full months — and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Five years of intense civil warfare have decimated South Sudan’s economy and killed an estimated 380,000 people. A third of the population is displaced, every second person is going hungry, and hundreds of thousands are at risk of starving to death in the world’s newest country, according to the United Nations.

Parts of South Sudan — including key agricultural areas — are nearly emptied of people; they fled for safety or to find food. That means those who remain in South Sudan are relying on imports, even though a plunging exchange rate means imported food is overwhelmingly expensive. And despite the influx of billions of dollars in food aid, attacks on deliveries, bad roads, flooding and deliberate government interference mean that food often doesn’t get to the people who need it.

The result, according to United Nations data, is that even when food is available, many prices are so high — a single meal costs two times the national daily income, according to a report released this year — that people can’t buy the things they see in markets or shops. This is threatening to worsen a crisis that is already Africa’s biggest refugee exodus since the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s.

People are being forced to make difficult sacrifices to survive, said Nicholas Kerandi, a food security analyst with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Some eat only one meal a day. Others cut out education or health-care costs. Many become refugees.

“It’s a way of coping. You have less income, but you still have to eat,” Kerandi said.

For someone like John Leju ­Celestino Ladu, those difficult choices are all too real. Ladu is an assistant professor at the University of Juba. He makes the equivalent of about $40 a month.

“The situation is so terrible,” he said. “It’s very bad. It’s really hard.”

To take the bus to and from work costs about $10 a month. Like many South Sudanese, Ladu is caring not only for his immediate family members; he has also taken in about 10 others. Some are un­educated and can’t secure a job in the highly competitive market. Others lost family members in the war and need support.

A kilogram of beef to feed 15 people costs about $5. Rather than spend money on meat, most days they eat beans and boiled corn flour called ugali.

Ladu, who has a doctoral degree in environmental science, supplements his income by driving his motorcycle as a taxi or picking up work as a laborer. He is one of the highest educated in a country where fewer than a third of the population can read. But even he has thought of becoming a refugee to survive.

Last year, the United Nations declared famine in some parts of the country — and said millions more people were at risk. Already, billions of U.S. dollars have poured into food aid. The United States alone, the biggest donor, has given $1.78 billion since the beginning of the conflict, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, including $336 million this year. In May, the Trump administration threatened to cut funding to South Sudan unless the country’s conflict ends.

But it’s not just getting food donations to the country. South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers. The government and opposition forces actively prevent food from getting to areas of urgent need, according to a statement from the U.N. secretary general. South Sudanese government officials have repeatedly said they don’t deny access.

Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan’s information minister, said that the U.N. estimates of people going hungry are unsubstantiated and that the reality on the ground is different. He acknowledged that some in South Sudan have become economic refugees but pointed to a recent peace deal as a sign of progress.

“Definitely with the agreement, the economy will improve,” he said. “Because whatever was being spent on the war and all these will be used for other issues, especially for the improvement of the economy.”

In July 2013, two years after the country became independent and before the war broke out, a teacher or government worker earned a salary worth about $350 a month. Five years after the war began, the same salary is now worth about $6 because of the devaluation of the South Sudanese pound.

For those teachers, half a gallon of milk now costs nearly half their monthly budget, at $2.70.

But not everyone’s salary is losing value. Peter Garang is one of the luckier people in South Sudan. He works as a security guard at a building in the capital, Juba, and he gets paid in U.S. dollars. That means every time the value of the South Sudanese pound goes down, he gets more money in exchange. But he says he still can’t survive without cutting back.

“That’s not enough to buy food,” he said. “When you clear your salary, you cannot buy anything.”

Garang has four children, but only one is in school. The fees are too high. He’s also responsible for his three brothers, two sisters, and his and his wife’s parents.

He doesn’t buy chicken or sorghum grains anymore. Even the price of a cup of tea from a street vendor forces him to think twice.

Since the start of the latest round of peace discussions between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and the leader of the opposition, Riek Machar, Garang says the prices have gone down slightly. He’s hopeful that this time the agreement will hold.

The South Sudanese leaders have made numerous attempts at peace talks — and nearly all have broken down. After the last peace agreement collapsed in July 2016, more than 1 million people became refugees.

Hopes are higher for this peace agreement because it was negotiated with Sudan, which South Sudan seceded from in 2011 after decades of civil war.

Oil is South Sudan’s primary export and a main driver of its economy. When the country separated from Sudan, it agreed to pipe its oil north. The fighting shut down several oil fields, but Sudan promised to get them working again as part of this peace agreement.

“There’s of course an incentive for Sudan to help,” said Thomson Fontaine, the senior economic and financial management adviser for the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, the group responsible for monitoring the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.

“There is a sense that with peace, the economy could really take off,” Fontaine said.

Aside from oil, the country could rely on exports of natural resources such as gold; agricultural exports such as vegetables and gum arabic; and hardwoods such as mahogany and teak.

But much of South Sudan’s most productive area, called Equatoria, has nearly emptied of people since fighting spread there two years ago. For fear of being accused of helping opposition soldiers or to avoid getting caught in the fighting, many people left their farms unharvested. The U.N. food agency estimates that the harvested area was reduced by nearly 50 percent since last year, distorting market prices even further.

“It’s affecting my family terribly,” said Ladu, the university professor. “Life is miserable. Very miserable.”

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South Sudan rebel leader Machar back in Juba after two years

2018-10-31 11:30 AFP

Machar

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar returned to the capital Juba for the first time in more than two years on Wednesday for a ceremony to welcome the latest peace accord for the war-ravaged country.

Machar, who under the terms of the September deal is to be reinstated as vice president, had not set foot in the city since he fled in July 2016 under a hail of gunfire when an earlier peace agreement collapsed.

The latest deal aims to end a civil war that erupted in the world’s youngest country in December 2013 and uprooted about four million people – roughly a third of the population.

The rebel chief was welcomed at Juba’s airport by President Salva Kiir, Machar’s former ally turned bitter enemy. The two rivals then joined regional leaders at the ceremony to publicly welcome the most recent agreement, signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) chief David Shearer hailed the moment of cooperation and said that building trust would be crucial, according to a statement.

“To see parties that have previously been divided by violence coming together here in Juba, in a public sign of unity, sends a strong message to the citizens of this country that you are genuinely committed to end the suffering and build durable peace,” he said.

 ‘Chance to restore hope’ 

Several thousand people gathered for the ceremony at the John Garang Mausoleum, built in honour of the independence hero who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2005.

Among regional leaders attending were Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Ethiopia’s newly appointed President Sahle-Work Zewde, Somalia’s head of state Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

South Sudan gained independence from its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011 after a 22-year civil war pitting rebel groups against Khartoum.

“Sadly, the hopes and dreams of that moment were lost in the outbreak of the war that has plagued this country for five long years,” Shearer said.

“This ceremony is a chance for the leaders here today to restore that hope and to secure a peaceful and prosperous future for their people.”

The deal has encountered delays on several issues including the reactivation of a joint committee on borders and the number of regionals states.

It was not immediately clear how long Machar would remain in Juba, as his aides have expressed concerns over his safety in the city.

Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesperson for Machar’s SPLM-IO rebel group, had said on Tuesday that he would be accompanied by around 30 political figures.

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“Never in a million years I thought he’d get the death sentence”

Photo credit: AFP

Photo credit: AFP

The wife of former South African soldier, William Endley, who has been sentenced to death, has appealed to the South African government to extradite her husband.

The 55-year-old Endley was sentenced to hang by a South Sudanese court for his role in assisting rebels during the country’s civil war.

Judge Lado Sekwat found Endley guilty of espionage and conspiring to overthrow the government.

His wife, Sana Endley is pleading with South Africa’s international relations officers to bring back her husband “for our daughter”.

ALSO READ: Former SA soldier sentenced to death in South Sudan

In an interview with Jacaranda FM News, Sana says she is yet to break the news to her daughter: that her father might be hung.

Endley describes the verdict as a “mockery of justice”.

“He is a South African man and ex-retired colonel. I have not had any contact with the South African government today. My request would be is to do the best they can and at least clarify,” says an emotional Endley. “I just heard from a mutual friend in Juba that when the sentence was given the judge even declared that all evidence against William will be destroyed. Why will they do this?”

William has been in South Sudan for the past 18 months. He worked as an advisor to former vice president and now rebel leader Riek Machar on the integration of the rebel forces into the national army under the then peace deal.

The peace agreement collapsed in 2016 where he was arrested.

His sister, Charmine Quinn says the family has been left broken.

“We are very broken. We are emotionally very tired, financially we are under strain. It’s has been really tough.”

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Freedom for political detainees James Gatdet, William Endley

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir walks with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir as he arrives to the Juba international airport to attend a peace ceremony in Juba, South Sudan, on October 31, 2018. PHOTO | AKUOT CHOL | AFP

By JOSEPH ODUHA
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South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Wednesday declared the release of two political detainees who had been sentenced to death.

James Gatdet and a South African William Endley, who were sentenced by a Juba court in February, will be freed on Thursday.

ACCUSATIONS

President Kiir made the declaration during his speech at a peace ceremony in the capital.

“Today, I declare the release of two political prisoners James and Endley,” he said.

Mr Gatdet, a former spokesman of rebel leader Riek Machar was arrested in 2017, after his deportation from Nairobi, for allegedly engaging in subversive activities against the Juba administration.

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Mr Endley, a retired South African army colonel and for adviser of Mr Machar, was accused of providing him with military support.

William John Endley, a South African national and an adviser to South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar, stands inside the dock in the High Court in Juba, South Sudan February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Samir Bol

“I will release him tomorrow [Thursday] and deport him back to South Africa,” Mr Kiir said.

PEACE DEAL

Dr Riek Machar — who returned to Juba for the first time in more than two years to take part in the ceremony — reaffirmed his commitment to the implementation of the September 12 peace agreement.

“We come here today to confirm to you that we are for peace. We want peace and unity,” he told the crowd at Freedom Square.

“The peace agreement will bring you federal system of governance,” he added.

Notable among the special guests at the ceremony were Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Ethiopia’s newly sworn in President Sahle-Work Zewde, Somali’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

WAR

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war in 2013 after President Kiir accused Machar — then the vice president— of plotting a coup against him.

The five-year civil war has killed an estimated 380,000 people and nearly two-and-a-half million others displaced.

A Mo Ibrahim Foundation report recently ranked South Sudan as the second worst governed state in Africa after Somalia.

Several peace accords have been signed but faltered immediately. They include the last one in 2016 that forced Mr Machar to flee into exile.

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Save the Children: 20,000 children risk starving to death in S. Sudan

A child in Juba waits for milk expected to help him recover from malnutrition|Credit|UNHCR
Save the children has warned that 20,000 children are at risk of dying from hunger-related conditions before the end of this year in the country.

Early this month, the National Bureau of Statistics and UN agencies released a report warning that parts of greater Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, and Western Bahr El Ghazal states are expected to face acute food shortages early next year.

The report indicated that over six million people face Phase 3 food crises which are classified under the Integrated Food Security as the worst acute food insecurity.

In a statement seen by Eye Radio over the weekend, the agency said the children are among 270,000 who are severely malnourished and at risk of starvation in the four regions.

Safe the children said “the near-famine is a rapid and worrying increase compared to 2017, in which famine was only declared in one state.”

The agency attributes this to continuing conflict in the areas it said is limiting access by humanitarian organisations.

Besides, it added that “reduced aid funding makes it difficult to provide assistance to malnourished children.”

Authorities in the respective states are yet to comment on the report.

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Abyei residents welcome proposal to deploy more peacekeepers

Alhadi Hawari |  | 10:49 pm

South Sudan-Sudan border near Abyei – CNN Photo

Residents of Abyei area have staged a peaceful protest, supporting the UN Peacekeeping Operations’ proposal to deploy additional police units in the disputed region.

”Yes we have  organised the demonstrations to support the proposal of secretary general of United Nations that is presented to the United Nations security council…,” Kon Manyith, the deputy head of Abyei Administration Area told Eye Radio on Monday.

Last month, the UN top peacekeeping official said the unit would enhance the UN’s focus on maintaining law and order there, and furthering peace between local communities.

Thousands of Abyei Area residents took to the streets today to voice their support for the proposal.

….we believe that the proposal has really addressed big changes to take place within united mission in Abyei,”Mr. Kon said.

The area residents also urged the council to endorse the proposal they said will determine the final status of the region.

“We are urging all members of security council to vote for the proposal of secretary general as the proposal was the turning point for the resolutions of Abyei final status…,” Mr Kon added.

The Abyei Area was accorded a “special administrative status” by the 2004 Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict, known as, the Abyei Protocol, in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Under the terms of the Abyei Protocol, the Abyei Area was declared, on an interim basis, to be simultaneously part of the states of South Khordufan and Northern Bahr el Ghazal and issues related to be determined by the Presidency, made up of President Salva Kiir and President Omar al Bashir.

The Ngok Dinka and Misseriya had unilaterally held referendums, but both governments of Sudan and South Sudan were mum about the popular votes.

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Gov’t approves 700 million SSP for peace celebrations

Obaj Shago |  | 11:07 pm

Thousands of Southern Sudanese wave the flag of their new country during a ceremony in the capital Juba on July 09, 2011 to celebrate South Sudan’s independence from Sudan. South Sudan separated from Sudan to become the world’s newest nation. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

The Presidential Press secretary has said the government has approved nearly 700 million Pounds for the celebration of the revitalized agreement.

The government and opposition parties signed the revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan last month.

Ateny told Eye Radio on Monday that the ministry of finance has already released the funds to the organizing committee.

“The ministry of finance has availed the fund for it, and so the celebration is realistic as I speak with you.”

According to Ateny Wek Ateny, the budget, which was approved by the council of ministers.

“Well the budget that was passed by the cabinet of the current government is closed to seven hundreds million pounds.”

It aims to facilitate the celebrations which will take place on the 30th this month.

The national celebration of the peace deal was initiated by President Salva Kiir, who signed the revitalized peace agreement on September 12 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President Kiir invited leaders of the parties who inked the peace accord, including Dr. Riek Machar and Dr Lam Akol; and regional heads of state.

“The opposition are all invited, Sudan government will be guaranteeing for participation of the opposition led by Dr. Riek Machar and Dr. Lam Akol…”

Earlier, the government said it would extend an official invitation to the opposition leaders to attend the celebrations.

However, the parties are yet to confirm the invitation, but the opposition group had insisted that President Kiir lift the state of emergency and release all political detainees first for them to attend the peace celebrations.

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Reduction of hostilities remarkable-JMEC acting deputy Chief of staff

Rosemary Peter |  | 7:01 pm

The Deputy Chief of Staff for JMEC [Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission] said the peace monitoring body has observed a significant reduction in hostilities across the country since the signing of the revitalized agreement.

Dr. Thomson Fontain made the remarks on Eye Radio’s Dawn Show on Thursday, as he provided an evaluation of events – 30 days from the date of signing of the new peace accord.

The evaluation was based on the JMEC monthly report on the status of the implementation of the agreement over the past 30 days in accordance with the implementation matrix, outstanding or missed tasks, upcoming activities linked to implementation, key observations and recommendations.

In the evaluation, the report noted some progress in implementing certain pre-transitional tasks as well as outstanding or missed tasks.

Dr. Fontain said despite some key pre-transitional period tasks not being pursued within the specified time frame, fighting has reduced since the signing of the peace agreement.

 “I must say that we have seen a remarkable decline in the level of hostilities and violence across the country.”

“We will ultimately be in a situation where we see a country that is free of conflict but we are certainly moving in the right direction,” Dr Fontain expressed optimism.

 Among others, JMEC said progress has been made on dissemination of the outcome of the peace process, the composition of the national pre-transitional committee, and the ratification of the revitalized agreement by the parties.

The progress report further indicated that 75% of nominations to the implementation institutions have been received and the CTSAMM Board [Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism] was reconstituted on September 27 as per article 2.4.6 of the agreement.

The outstanding pre-transitional tasks expected to be implemented by IGAD over the last 30 days include the appointment of a Chairperson for the revitalized JMEC, reconstitution of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee, the establishment of the Independent Boundaries Commission and the Technical Boundaries Commission.

Outstanding tasks for the parties to implement include the immediate release of all prisoners of war and political detainees by all parties under ICRC supervision and the establishment of a fund for the implementation of the activities of the Pre-Transitional Period by TGoNU.

Other tasks are the completion of disengagement and separation of forces by the Parties, creating a roadmap for implementing the political tasks of the Pre-Transition Period and preparation of a budget by the body upon its convening.

Dr. Fontain said although several deadlines have been missed, he still sees a commitment from the parties to accelerate the implementation process.

“Yes deadlines have been missed but the fact that the committees are now beginning to get into gear, beginning to work is a very hopeful sign and we are hopeful that a lot more will be done in months ahead.”

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