Date: 21 December 2017:
The Leadership of Equatoria Community Organisation in the UK (ECO-UK) welcomes the commencement of the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) aimed at reaching a sustainable peace in South Sudan. ECO-UK would like to thank the international partners; the IGAD, TROIKA, and the EU who are working tirelessly to enable the HLRF to succeed.
We urge all parties to HLRF to approach the peace talks with an open mind, flexibility, respect for each
stakeholder, and a spirit of inclusivity with the goal of reaching a peace agreement that is acceptable to all.
However, we note with concern the position paper of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, which has a negative tone and portrays a sense of intransigence that is in sharp contrast to the attitude of the other parties to the talks.
It is in this context that we feel compelled to speak and point out some of the basic misconceptions in the Government position paper and its whole approach to the HLRF. These misconceptions include:–
1. Approach to the idea of “Revitalization”: Given the widely accepted view that implementation of the ARCSS (Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan) has stalled, to put it mildly, one of the key stated aims of the HLRF is to revive and modify the Agreement to reflect current reality and help reverse its failure to stop the conflict in the country.
This entails “amendments of key elements of the ARCSS to reflect the current political and security challenges facing the country” as correctly stated by the TROIKA (17.12.2017). The Government of the Republic of South Sudan should not insist on “not renegotiating the ARCSS” if it is serious about bringing peace and alleviating the suffering of our people.
In order to breathe new life into the peace process, key elements of the agreement will need to be amended/renegotiated.
2. Veto: No one party should have a veto to the peace agreement/process. The international community should assess such a party carefully, and if its position is deemed to be unreasonable, then there must be consequences for that party.
The Government’s threats to derail the process should be assessed in that context.
3. Participation: In a further indication of its lack of seriousness, the Government has included in its delegation individuals who have been sanctioned for their well-evidenced role in obstructing peace in the country. We hope that this is not an expression of the Government’s intentions towards the success of the HLRF.
4. Parallel Initiatives: All parallel initiatives by the Government are a distraction to achieving real peace and a deliberate strategy to deflect attention from the total failure to bring peace to, and govern, the country. These include: the national dialogue, unification of SPLM, the creation of 32 states in the country.
The ONLY way to achieve peace is through an internationally supervised and independent peace process involving all stakeholders – not through processes spearheaded by a Government that has been shown, time and again, to
be targeting and callously killing its own innocent citizens.
5. Failed Government: The Government’s claims to legitimacy are tenuous, to say the least, and totally unjustified. It has long since discarded the rule of law and constitutional legitimacy, given that ARCSS has collapsed in all but name.
The Government has failed and deliberately sabotaged the ARCSS; it has failed to govern the country; it has failed the people of South Sudan and it is responsible for the worst humanitarian catastrophe on earth.
A government that does not care about the suffering of its people and has wrecked the economy does not deserve to remain in power. Moreover, without the principal peace partner since July 2016, the current transitional government is illegitimate and it has retained power through the use of brutal military force.
Therefore, it should give way to a new inclusive transitional national government that will make a fresh start and bring much needed hope to the people of South Sudan.
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