A senior opposition leader is calling for the demilitarization of civilian areas as stipulated in the Revitalized Peace deal, ReARCSS.
Following the 2013 conflict and its resumption in 2016, millions of people were displaced from their homes.
Armed personnel reportedly took over their properties, including schools and churches, while others forcefully evicted the civilians who remained behind in the conflict-affected areas.
Those in the UN camps and outside the country have refused to return to their homes in Wau, Bor, and Juba and along Nimule highway – citing the presence of soldiers in their areas.
According to the revitalized peace agreement, all parties shall not occupy or damage any public or community property and infrastructure – including schools, hospitals, business centers, places of worship and any other vital installations.
The peace accord also stipulates that the parties shall withdraw from any of these areas that they have occupied.
“At the moment civilian centers that are supposed to be evacuated by the armed groups before the end of September 2018 are still occupied by the army,” Dr. Lam Akol, a senior leader in the South Sudan Opposition Alliance, SSOA told Eye Radio in an exclusive interview on Friday 5 July.
Last month, in its report, the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism said both government and opposition forces are still occupying civilian buildings.
CTSAM-VM revealed that the SSPDF is still occupying 52 civilian buildings while the SPLA-IO is occupying two in the country.
Most of these illegally occupied buildings are in the Upper Nile and Equatoria regions.
Civilians who have tried to return to their homes in Juba’s residential area of Khor William have reported intimidation and harassment by men in uniform who have since 2016 taken over their structures.
“The level of mistreatment of the citizens has not yet dropped, so these civilians are not enjoying the peace now,” said Dr. Lam.
He urged all armed forces to vacate civilian centers as enshrined in the peace agreement to encourage more people to resume their normal lives.
The chairman of CTSAM-VM – Maj. Gen. Desta Abiche – has also urged the parties to treat this task as a matter of urgency and vacate civilian facilities immediately.
Funds for Peace
Three weeks ago, the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission said it has noted that the permanent ceasefire is holding across the country.
Under chapter 7 of the new peace accord, ReJMEC is mandated to Monitor and oversee all aspects of the implementation of the Agreement.
Dr. Lam Akol called on his colleagues who signatories to the revitalized peace agreement to recommit themselves to its implementation, especially the security arrangements.
In May, the government pledged to make available an additional $100 million to expedite the implementation of the pending tasks during the pre-transitional period.
Some of the key pending tasks include security arrangements, number of states and constitutional amendments.
Lam said the government should live up to its word by availing the funding…
“The security arrangement is the central issue that will determine the success and failure of the peace agreement. People agreed to the extension on one condition that the money is made available by the government for implementing the activities on cantonment,” he said.
Lam said two months have elapsed and money has not yet been deposited by the government has promised.
The TROIKA countries, comprising the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway, in May praised the government’s pledge to contribute more funds to the peace agreement.
The National Pre-Transitional Committee said it requires more than $200 million to implement its tasks. It recently established a secretariat for all its mechanisms or teams operating under its umbrella.
Though being South Sudan’s biggest funders, TROIKA has inclined from giving financial support to the peace deal.
It said they would like to [first] see the level of transparency placed on the money pledged by the government in order “to create trust between the international community and the government.”
The parties are left with only 4 months to form a new government of National Unity.
The coalition government is expected to lead the country for 3 years, then followed by general elections which will determine the future form of leadership and governance for South Sudan.
Augustino Njoroge, ReJMEC Interim Chairperson said they have received a progress report on the formation of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission -which is a task with absorbing former soldiers into civilian life.
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