November 30, 2022 (JUBA) – The head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan (UNIMISS), Nicholas Haysom has urged the government and holdout armed and non-armed political dissents to embrace dialogue to resolve their differences.
“We continue to follow developments relating to the Sant’Egidio process and urge all parties to embrace dialogue to advance their interests and resolve the current impasse,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
Haysom was speaking at a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC).
His statement came days after the Juba government wrote to the Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio informing him of a decision to suspend the Rome talks.
The November 21 letter said the talks in Rome were being used by the rebel group to buy time as they prepare for war, claims different rebel groups have dismissed.
The peace talks were scheduled to resume in Rome, Italy, on Monday, November 28. Negotiations between both sides began in 2019, but have failed to stop violence in some parts of the country, despite a ceasefire signed in January 2020.
Paolo Impagliazzo, the Secretary-General of the Community of Sant’Egidio said he would not relent on the negotiations, saying Rome and the international community were only interested in restoring peace and stability in South Sudan.
Political analysts and critics of the government have attributed the decision of the government to pull out from the talks to a strategy to weaken the opposition and continue to use it as a reason to delay full implementation of the key provisions stipulated in the 2015 peace agreement revitalized in 2018.
The head of the UN mission in the country, however, expressed his concern with the delay in the implementation of some of the key provisions in the agreement.
“I note with concern that deadlines related to the Political Parties Council, the Reconstituted National Constitutional Review Commission (RNCRC), and the establishment of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) have been missed. We want to urge the South Sudanese that the two-year extension should not be regarded as a holiday break and that delays are already having a domino impact on subsequent processes,” said Haysom.
The delay in implementing key provisions has resulted in the formation of a Trilateral Taskforce, comprising the UN, the AU mission in South Sudan, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) on Permanent Constitution-Making and Electoral Processes Support.
“We hope that the permanent constitution-making process can start without further delay. This is the foundation of a new social contract between the government and its citizens, and between its citizens. I note that the Peace Agreement prescribes civic and voter education on both the constitution-making and electoral processes and we look forward to an eventual roll-out of civic education, political engagement, and the creation of an enabling environment for healthy national debates. UNMISS stands ready to support the government in this regard,” said Haysom.
He said sub-national violence, continues to drive a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, with next year’s projections estimating 9.4 million people in need of lifesaving, and in particular food assistance. This represents a significant increase of almost half a million people compared to the estimates in 2022.
The situation, he said, is worsened by collective challenges like climate and flooding.
“While humanitarian personnel work tirelessly to offer shelter, health care, food, water and sanitation support, needs continue to outstrip resources to respond,” stressed Haysom.