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Cessation of Hostilities Agreement First Oversight obsersation report

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

South Sudan witnessed rampant growth of various warring groups which fight the government and among themselves across the cross the country Since July 2016.  The break out of various armed groups   have resulted to slow implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. The body tasked for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the agreement on the resolution of conflict in South Sudan, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) has conducted comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the peace agreement. The JMEC report draw conclusion that the implementation of the peace agreement is not in right truck. Therefore, JMEC strongly recommended that ARCSS should be revitalize before the situation get into worse since the rate of South Sudan political elites turning in organizing rebellions against the government and themselves is high. IGAD council of ministers picked up the call of JMEC and immediately established appointment of IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan. Among the immediate tasks that the special envoy has to deliver is the revitalization of ARCSS. In November 2017, IGAD special envoy to South Sudan conducted South Sudan pre-revitalization stakeholders’ consultations. From 18th -22nd December 2017, ARCSS high level revitalization forum was conducted and cessation of hostilities agreement was reached in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The forum on 2st December 2017, reached to Cessation of Hostilities Agreement Between the government and the armed groups with the witness of IGAD state and government members, AU commissions, AU Five members states for supporting IGAD, Torika, China, EU, UN, civil society, faith based and persons of eminent personalities.   Therefore, this report is an oversight observation of the parties to the cessation of hostilities agreement compliances

 

Acknowledgement

CEPO would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the individuals who helped in verifying the violations presented in this report. Specially thanks goes to the warring parties’ military spokespersons for speaking publicly through the available media.  This demonstrate their commitment for   peace to prevail in the country. Great appreciation for the quoted media houses in our report, your article has enriched our report content.  Thanks also goes to CEPO staff who made this report available for the public.         

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The signed Cessation of hostilities agreement between the government of South Sudan and the warring parties has witnessed serious violation at its early stage before it could last for a month from the date of its singing.  For the agreement to hold, all parties and signatories to the should demonstrate the will to implement it.

Good and appreciative messages were delivered by the leadership of South Sudan Defense Forces, SPLM/A-IO under Riek Machar and the National Salvation Front (NAS). The best approach for making peace and stability to prevail in South Sudan is the change of attitude by the warring parties.  It is time to use nonviolent political approach to resolve the political difference among the warring parties. The spirit of revitalizing the cessation of hostilities is great and nationalistic that needs to be maintained by respecting and implementing the the signed agreement. The [1]recently observed violations require urgent verification and investigation by IGAD through its designed mechanism of CTSAMM. Donor community   and UNMISS role is critical in facilitating CTSAMM at this point since the cessation of hostilities is an approach of creating trust and confidence for revitalization of the Agreement on the resolution of conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS).  Its failure in the month of January 2018 will offer great risk in February 2018   revitalization sessions. AU head of states and Government should come out with strong implementable resolutions on the fate of the cessation of hostilities and IGAD-led ARCSS revitalization forum including actualization of RPF. The   violations documented in this report should be independently verified, monitor and reported by CTSAMM before AU   Summit which is due in January 2018 for decisions making. The parties to the agreement should effectively cooperate with CTSAMM during the verification and monitoring exercise.   

The implementation matrix of cessation of Hostilities agreement is not so specific on matters of buffer zones and purposes including humanitarian corridors. Since these are key matters in permanent ceasefire arrangement, they need to be addressed since it’s a great gap that will offer chance of further violation if   not addressed immediately by CTSAMM and IGAD.  IGAD should be pro-active on matters of violations as silence never help and often    contributes for public loss of trust and confidence on the fate of the cessation of hostilities. The [2]recent statement issued by the chairperson of IGAD council of ministers was good though late. The civil society and media should be pro-active in disseminating the cessation of hostilities agreement to the public including the army. Civil society and media play greater role in sustaining [3]public trust and confidence on the cessation of hostilities. The observed individuals who are effectively engaged in propaganda and hate speech in the social media platforms should desist from that for the interest of peace since it is one of the prohibited acts by the cessation of hostilities agreement.                  

 

METHODOLOGY

The data collected for   this report were directly generated from the   incidences in ground. Civil society organizations at the locations where the violations occurred were reached to and key informants’ interviews were conducted within the communities where the violations occurred. Verification were done with some government and rebel civil authorities officials including community, religious and women leaders and traders. Some citizens who were informed about civil society  compiling oversight reports on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement volunteered to communicate to us both positive and negative acts of the parties to the  agreement. The reliable sources for generating and verifying this report data are composed of the following categories of individuals within the areas of violations;

a)         Civil society

b)        Religious leaders

c)          Women Leaders

d)        Youth leaders

e)         Traditional Authorities

f)           Traders

g)        Media articles published

h)        Local journalists

i)            Press conference done by any warring parties spokesperson

j)            State Authorities   

GOAL: Enhancing provision of check and balance for the parties to the cessation of hostilities compliances.

OUTCOME: This report findings will make the parties to the cessation of hostilities bond with required compliance per the provisions of the agreement. 

THE FINDINGS NARRATIVE     

1.        Positive actions for strengthening the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement

There were positive actions observed from some of the   signatories to the cessation of hostilities agreement.  These positive actions demonstrate good gestures from the parties to the public.  The positive actions were the following;

a)         On 23rd December 2017:  The forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Army - In Opposition (SPLA-IO) led by the First Vice President Taban Deng Gai  [4]ordered  his troops to observe South Sudan humanitarian truce.

b)        On 23rd December 2017: South Sudan president Salva Kiir has  [5]directed the chief of defense staff to instruct all the heads of the state army divisions and units across the country  to comply with ceasefire agreement

c)          On 23rd December 2017: The leader of the SPLM/A-IO Dr. Riek Machar [6]ordered his forces to cease any form of aggression and observe the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in Addis Ababa. In a letter addressed to all units, Dr. Machar says they should remain in their bases in adherence to the agreement.  

d)        On 23rd  December 2017: The leader of the National Salvation Front, General Thomas Cirilo has [7]issued similar orders to his forces. General Cirilo said NAS forces should cease all hostile military actions and operations, and to remain in their locations

e)         On 25th December 2017: Speaking at All Saint Cathedral in Juba on Christmas day, President Salva Kiir said he is  [8]committed to the agreement. The army will not retaliate in the face of any provocation that seeks to dishonor the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in Addis Ababa last week

f)           On 27th December 2017. Peter Gatdet Yak, who leads a group calling itself South Sudan United Movement as rebel leader said that he has [9]ordered his troops in Western Nuer areas to cease hostilities

g)        On 27thDecember 2017.The Chief of defense of forces of South Sudanese army Wednesday has [10]pledged to implement the ceasefire agreement, urging the international community to restrain rebel forces. Gen James Ajonga Mawut, currently in Aweil for Christmas break, told officers and soldiers that President Kiir had given instructions and orders for a ceasefire to be implemented immediately. 

h)        ON 29th Dec. 2017. South Sudan's government on Friday "[11]approved" a cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and humanitarian access deal brokered by the East African regional bloc IGAD

i)            On January 1st 2018. Senior opposition officials allied to South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar in Phow State said they have “[12]approved” the cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and humanitarian access deal brokered by the East African Regional bloc IGAD

The above noticed statements from the leadership of the some of the warring parties are great because it strengthens compliance of their ground forces to the provisions of the cessation of hostilities. Such public statements from the leaders have to be regular and consistent for keeping their ground forces aware that cessation of hostilities is important at whatever situation and should be respected and observed by them on the ground.

2.        Common Challenges that may face the respect and implementation of the implementation of cessation of hostilities agreement

2.1.                Weak/Absence of central command from the military

The military leadership of the warring parties should keep on making regular instructions and directives to their ground forces command to distant themselves from provoking their opponents. The chances of ground forces or single soldiers causing provocation of opponent is high especially if their essential needs such as food or access to income are not catered for regularly by their leadership. Under influence of hunger, single soldiers can attempt to get food or something for raising income and the process of getting that, military confrontation may take place. Therefore, responding to the needs of the ground soldiers timely is something that needs to be solved and address as factor of deterring solders from seeking food or income for buying food. Supporters of ceasefire may need to consider that factor in terms of aiding respect and implementation of ceasefire.

2.2.                The will to implement cessation of hostilities agreement  

The political leadership of the warring parties has to regularly keep positive sentiments for reinforcing compliance of their forces to ceasefire. Political statement in public events and political field visits to soldiers in frontlines for respect and observation of ceasefire of hostilities are essential beside the political compliances factors such as;

a)         Allow and facilitate verification and monitoring of the ceasefire violations to run smoothly without obstructions.

b)        Positively adhere to recommendations on issues that may easy the implementations of cessation of hostilities arrangement from reliable sources that have role to facilitate implementation of ceasefire.

c)          Prominently holding the mechanisms tasked to support and verify implementation of ceasefire arrangement accountable to their duties and responsibilities timely without any given pre-condition.

The anticipated challenge is if the leadership of the warring is not keen in making public statements that hold their forces or mechanism for implementation of ceasefire accountable. the possibility of the ceasefire facing natural death is eminent.  In the situation of South Sudan, the regional protection forces should be utilized strategically and maximally to pave ways of deterring military opponent coming into contact. This means the regional protection forces should offer central role in providing protection to civilians at borders of military opponents’ temerities. Maintaining RPF as forces of separating military opponent from clashing in the name of providing civilian protection is essential. Having RPF in South Sudan context is great chance of directing national efforts towards building national security sector, because entrusting RPF the responsibility of offering civilians’ protection is giving economic benefit for the government to direct resources towards strengthening capacity and capability of security institutions for deliverance of civilian’s protection after the mandate of RPF comes to an end. Therefore, the use of RPF should be maximized for the gain of the state since its purpose is to allow the state to utilize its available resources for its future plans. Furthermore, CTSAMM is another mechanism that needs to be made functional and utilize to the maximum in playing role of deterring violations of cessation of hostilities. It does not make sense for CTSAMM to be only focusing on verification and monitoring without contributing to deterrence of violations. CTSAMM should play great in deterring violation by increasing awareness among the military population and civilians on the duties and responsibilities of safeguarding respect and observation of the cessation of hostilities. A good community partner for CTSAMM is the civil society in at its nature. CTSAMM designing joint strategy of work with civil society for deterring violations of the cessation of hostilities is paramount. The warring parties’ leadership should insist on this element because it is for their benefit in terms of being mechanism for passing their leadership compliance calls in form of statement made to the rest of the public far from being reached by the leadership of the warring parties. 

 

3.        ALLEGATIONS THAT REQUIRES CTSAMM INDEPENDENT VERIFICATION FOR QUALIFICATION AS VIOLATIONS 

4.        GOVERNMENT ALLEGATIONS

5.        AGAINST

6.        REBEL (SPLM/A-IO)

REBELS (SPLM/A-IO) ALLEGATIONS

AGAINST 

GOVERNMENT

On 24th-25th December 2017: Logobero and Lujulo: SPLA-IO attacked the Government positions as a strategy of gain9ng these locations before the ceasefire matured or take serious implementation. Number of civilians were displaced.

 

On 25th Dec. 2017: Kajo-keji: SPLM/A-IO rebel deputy spokesman Paul Lam Gabriel has accused the government forces for violating the Cessation of Hostilities, attacks happened in Ngepo County, Gaderu, Kansuk in   Kajo-keji. Lam said fighting starting on 24 December evening till 26th December 2017. And he blamed the government forces for attacking the bases of opposition to gain control over territory.

On 25th December 2017: Kansuk, Lokbere, Koch, Amadi, Awiel East, Fashoda: Government army SPLA spokesperson Brig Gen Lulu Ruai Koang issued a statement accusing the rebels of carrying out attacks on the government forces in five states: Yei River, Northern Liech, Amadi, Awiel East and Fashoda, in the last 24 to 72 hours (24th-25th December. 2017). "The rebels had stepped up offensive operations against SPLA’s positions in futile attempts to capture new strategic areas before IGAD peace monitors could embark on field visits," said Koang.

On 26th Dec. 2017: Koch:  SPLM/A-IO rebel deputy spokesman Paul Lam Gabriel said in a statement that at about 13:00hrs, the Juba regime forces launched another attack on SPLA- IO position in Bieh Payam in Koch County. They burnt down the base and its surrounding villages including food stores of both local produces and WFP provided donations to the suffering civilians of Koch county".

On 25th December 2017 early morning: Raja:  Government Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said four aid workers from the French organization Solidarities International had been kidnapped a day earlier by rebels near the western city of Raja. The organization said on Monday it had lost contact with three members of its team on Saturday.

On 27th December 2017: Guol, Koatpadaang, Kuleer: SPLM/A-IO rebel deputy spokesman Paul Lam Gabriel said in a statement that on 27/12/2017 government forces also burnt Guol, Koatpadaang and Kuleer Villages in addition to the above-mentioned areas". 

On 28th Dec. 2017: Mundri: SPLM/A-IO rebel deputy spokesman Paul Lam Gabriel said the morning of 28/12/3017, government forces  dispatched more than 300 soldiers from Mundri to go to attack our bases in Bari, Madewu, Ladingwa and Bangalo again. A part of the team went to Gori Balawu in Mundri West county an area controlled by the SPLA/M- IO. They are now looting food items and burning houses after civilians have escaped into the bushes". 

On 29th Dec. 2017: Yuai and Payai:  SPLM/A-IO rebel deputy spokesman Paul Lam Gabriel said in a statement that “The government forces left their position in Yuai and attacked our base in Payai but they were repulsed yesterday dated 29th Dec. 2017. This aggression continued this morning at around 7:00 am as they launched another attack on our position in paditet Payam,”

 

 

7.        Possible factors that influencing the registered allegations of violations above

The likelihood of these registered violations were due to lack of knowledge on   cessation of hostilities is higher although the principle of military thinking that always power you are on ground the great chance of political influence you have on political-militarized peace mediation may be true.  Increasing knowledge raising among the ground forces of military opponents on obligation and respect of cessation of hostilities should be maintain on the top plans of making cessation of hostilities hold. This should be an absolute responsibility of CTSAMM in partnership with civil society. The advantage of the signed 21st December 2017 South Sudan cessation of hostilities agreement is that it acknowledges the role of civil society and media in fostering knowledge raising among the population to observe their duties and responsibilities for making the cessation of hostilities agreement prevail.  Civil society and Media need to be hold responsible for promoting the observation of the cessation of hostilities agreement among the population being soldiers or civilians. Using civil society in their networks to reach out to the military should be encourage because civil society access to donor funding is much easier then government. Civil society and media block out or restriction from fostering public knowledge about the public duties and responsibilities in promoting cessation of hostilities may act as factor that contribute in sustaining public ignorance about the cessation of hostilities, this for the military, it means they will wage war against each other at any time they wish to facing each other military. Other central factors that have attributed to the conduct of cessation of hostilities violation are centered on the followings;

a)         Absence of early communication to ground forces by military leadership including low structures of public governance for instance for the government state government while for the rebels their informal public governance structures 

b)        Provocation by opponent

c)          Absence of immediate deterring strategy such immediate move of CTSAMM o ground upon signing of cessation of hostilities

8.        External actor’s compliance for success of cessation of hostilities

Mainly the external actors have great role in pushing the national parties to the cessation of hostilities to respect and implement it without any pre-conditions for the benefit of the society. External actors are obligated under the global principle of “responsibility to protection and promote global family peace” to be pro-active on process of making cessation of hostility agreement materialized for the benefits of the society. This means being pro-active is the underline principle of engagement for delivering responsibility for making global principles that attribute to individual and community safety and security real. The culture of external actors conducting business with some attached pre-conditions, reduction of pressure after inking an agreement or double standards is highly triggers for violation of cessation of hostilities. Cessation of hostilities approach in making peace happen is critical moment that requires effectiveness and efficiency in delivering the promises enshrined in the agreement of the cessation of hostility. Cessation of hostilities in militarized-political violent conflict is a stage of creating moment for trust and confidence building for genuine engagement on peace negotiation and mediation. Therefore, failure of cessation of hostilities granted high chance for failure of any attempt for peace negotiation and mediation.  Cessation of hostilities is a determining factor for any peace negotiation and mediation. Successful cessation of hostilities it means high chance of success in peace negotiation and mediation because the parties have also gained some trust and confidence during the observation of cessation of hostilities. Therefore, external actors, that are interested in promotion global principles of individual safety and security should understand that they have contribution in making cessation of hostilities hold or failed. So it is upon their choice what do they want.  But the best is for them to opt to be pro-active in making the cessation of hostilities materialized. Their pro-active ranging from keeping pressure for timely implementation of the cessation of hostilities, contributing resources for facilitation of the cessation of hostilities since the parties I the past are much more expending on military purchases than then allocating resources for individual and community safety and security and other factors such as weak economy due to the violence. Hence, IGAD, AU and Troika constituted some of the external actors. Their silence on merging allegations by warring parties on violation of cessation of hostilities is total bad and contributing in fostering further violation, because it seems their interest is to see the conflicting sign cessation of hostilities document –that is it beyond this is a very case/interest. IGAD, AU and Troika have to be pro-active in all aspects resources allocation and pressure sustainability  

 

 

        

9.        RECOMMENDATIONS AND WAY FORWARDS

9.1.                Military and political leadership

The warring parties’ military leadership should regularly take responsibility of communicating to their ground forces to respect and implement the cessation of hostilities without any excuse. The use of the language “Self-Defense” by the leadership of the warring parties to be careful applied, because it offers an opportunity of misinterpretation. For instance, ground forces may use it for responding to mere provocation by military opponent. Military and political leadership of the warring parties have to practical materialized the following;

a)         The will to implement the cessation of hostilities agreement.

b)        Maintain messaging for compliance of their ground forces.

c)          Offering leadership for unrestricted facilitation and promotion of the cessation of hostilities agreement by partners including civil society and media.

d)        Carefully apply the phrase “Self-Defense” if need be abolish it during public statement 

9.2.                CTSAMM and UNMISS

Urgency in providing public information on occurrence of violation is necessary for the purpose of maintain public trust and confidence that cessation of hostilities still will hold because reliable institutions is watching out the acts of the warring parties in relation to the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. The holdup approach for reaction, at this stage needs to be reduced because it is damaging in winning public trust and confidence on the fate of the cessation of hostilities. The leadership of CTSAMM and UNMISS should commit to the following;

a)         Provide early information on occurrence of violation. For the purpose of ethnics of work may be clear in saying it is still early information prior verification

b)        Get the RPF actualized as early as possible

c)          Foster verification and monitoring of incidences

d)        Clear named the violators without strategy of be soft 

9.3.                Civil Society and Media

Taking lead in dissemination the cessation of hostilities agreement among the population both civilians and military. Waiting for donors funds for moving forwards should not be hold back for utilizing the available resources around for easily dissemination of the cessation of hostilities agreement.  The civil society and media should be pro-active on the followings;

a)         Disseminating the cessation of hostilities agreement

b)        Provide timely oversight observation of the implementation of the cessation of hostilities by the warring parties

c)          Engage community structure in offering alterative traditional deterrence approach for violation of cessation of hostilities  

9.4.                External Actors (IGAD, AU and Troika)

It is essential to pro-active maintain genuine pressure for the warring parties to commit for the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement.  Taking time to response to information issued or release by the warring parties as regional and international partners and witness to the cessation of hostilities agreement normal it has direct impact on the public. Long silence for the public in the context of South Sudan it mean you have “give up” or your purpose is only to see document sign what will happen on its implementation is no longer of great concern. [13]AU Head of States and Government summit of Jan. 2018 has to make implementable decisions for fostering respect and implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. AU summit should speak out on punitive measures in practical and consultative manner so that it is not seen as the normal and destructive pressure. H.E. President has made clear statement that his government is committed to the cessation of hostilities respect and implementation but not [14]foreign pressure and further H.E. President demanded clear mentioning of violators of cessation of hostilities without any [15]cover up and similar position of direct naming violators was raised by the rebels (SPLM/A-IO under Dr. Riek Machar). AU summit should make clear demand for the commitment of the South Sudan parties for the success of IGAD-led peace revitalization forum in Feb. 2018. As external actors commit to the following;

a)         Keep the momentous rolling for demanding the warring parties to adherence to the principle of individual and community safety and security

b)        Timely response on any violation mentioned or occurred. Utilize the capacity of urging of the warring parties to commit themselves to their obligations under the agreement effective without any contravene of any provisions of the agreement their signed

c)          Offers timely support for facilitation of the cessation of hostilities implementation

 

10. ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN IMMEDIATELY FROM EARLY JAN. 2018

10.1.         PARTIES TO THE CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES AGREEMENT (accelerate the will to implement)

a)         Dissemination of the cessations of hostilities to ground forces

b)        Strengthen commend follow up for cessation of hostilities compliance

c)          Structure of buffer zones and humanitarian corridors    

10.2.         IGAD/CTSAMM and UNMISS

a)         Monitoring of buffer zone and humanitarian corridors

b)        Facilitating the implementation of the cessation of hostilities in partnership with the warring parties

c)          Verifying, monitoring and reporting violations beyond military acts including other prohibited acts by the cessation of hostilities agreement such as sexual violence and hate speech

10.3.         CIVIL SOCIETY, FAITH BASE LEADERS AND MEDIA

a)         Increase outreach program for dissemination of the cessation of hostilities agreement

b)        Offering oversight observation reports  

10.4.          Regional and international community (AU, UN and Troika and Diplomatic Missions)

a)         Accelerate funding for implementation of cessation of hostilities agreement provisions

 

11. Conclusions

The observed positive messages from some of the warring parties to the cessation of hostilities leadership are appreciative and should be maintained because it plays a big role in winning the public trust and confidence. These message keep the public hopeful to the idea that things may work out in nearest future for their benefits, especially in February, 2018 the second round revitalization will be taking place in Addis Ababa. Each actor being party or signatory to the cessation of hostilities have to timely start contributing in making the cessation of hostilities materialized. Finally the forthcoming AU Head of States and governments in late January, 2018 should have strong make resolution on the following demands; ensure that the signed COH agreement of December 2017 is respected and implemented; ensure that punitive measures are taken against any party that violates COH agreement; ensure unrestricted civic space and humanitarian access; support [16]memorialization as means of deterring future armed violence and reconciling communities and ensure success of the next IGAD led revitalization forum. [17]AU Commission chairperson should remain vocal and push IGAD/CTSAMM and UNMISS to avoid silences and increase timely information delivery on matters of cessation of hostilities violation. South Sudan leaders at their various capacities should regularly send out [18]positive messages to the citizens and the soldiers. Voices of leaders have Hugh influence and implications. Civil society and media should be allowed to play the big role in communicating positive messages to the citizens without restrictions. See the impact of the media in framing this report content. Low public governance structures of the parties to the cessation of hostilities required to play role in raising awareness on respect and implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement. It was impressive to see state minister of Health and Environment like of Yei River State calling upon [19]warring parties for unhindered humanitarian access in the state. The link between the cessation of hostilities and the next peace revitalization process is critical. Since the cessation of hostilities is a step of building trust and confidence for the Feb. 2018 peace revitalization, is essential that all parties and signatories to the cessation of hostilities dedicate will, time and funds for implementing the cessation of hostilities smooth. Finally, the statement issued by chairperson of IGAD Council of ministers was remarkable but it should be beyond words especially in relation to holding violators accountable, materializing RPF and making CTSAMM and UNMISS effective in monitoring the situation on the ground and delivering timely message to the leadership of the warring parties and IGAD.