Opening Remarks made by Maj. Gen. Desta Abiche Ageno, Chairperson of CTSAMVM at the 5th CTSAMVM Board Meeting in Juba,on 26thMarch, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome to the 5th CTSAMVM Board Meeting.
I want tothank the Party representatives who travelled to Juba to attend this meeting and I note that this is the third meeting to take place in Juba. Again, this represents a significant milestone and shows momentum for progress in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement as we approach the end of the pre-transitional period. As I mentioned at the last Board meeting, we must all work together to ensure effective implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements and contribute to a more secure and stable country.
I first want to draw your attention to some areas of progress. Overall the Permanent Ceasefire is largely holding, and there continue to be encouraging signs of communications and cooperation between the Parties on the ground. This included the recent agreement by the SPLM/SPLA-IO HQ in Diel to release 17 SSPDF soldiers to ICRC.
Another positive development is the completion of deployment of the National Monitors to the MVTs. As many of you are aware and as I stressed at the last Board meeting, the Revitalized Agreement stipulates CTSAMVM should deploy a national monitoring component. However, our national monitors were delayed until early this month in their deployment due to budget constraints. We are currently working on revising the terms of reference for the MVTs to include the National Monitors.
Despite the deployment of the National Monitors, the financial challenges for CTSAMVM continue to exist. In light of these challenges, we are temporarily freezing the sectors, and centralizing the command line from the MVTs to CTSAMVM HQs. We have also taken other measures such as coordinating our meeting activities with NPTC. We thank NPTC for covering the travel of party members to the Board meeting. We also want to thank Japan for its contribution to CTSAMVM.
Regarding areas of concern for the implementation of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements, there continue to be verified reports of the SPLM/SPLA-IO forces moving into cantonment areas. Again, this movement requires careful coordination by JMCC and notification to CTSAMVM in advance to reduce the risk of clashes. We note in this regard that the CDF for the SSPDF has instructed the SSPDF forces to assist by allowing movement of SPLM/SPLA-IO and SSOA forces to the 25 identified cantonment sites.
Regarding the training and unification of forces, we note that the JDB held an extra-ordinary meeting on 11 March and announced the formation of a 700 strong VIP Protection Force. The composition is planned to be 350 TGoNU and 350 from the SPLM/SPLA-IO and SSOA. CTSAMVM will monitor and verify this activity.
Our ability to monitor, verify and investigate allegations of violations depends on our ability to move and access areas throughout South Sudan. Also, the main impediment to conducting verification of forces as required by our mandate has been the consistent denial of access to MVTs. Since the last Board meeting there were 10 incidents of denial by the SSPDF/NSS and 2 by the SPLM/A-IO. At the last CTSAMVM Technical Committee meeting, the representatives of the Parties agreed to take action against those commanders who continue to deny access for force verification.
The issue of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) also remains a huge concern. We reported at the last Board meeting that CTSAMVM verified allegations of rape by SSPDF soldiers in Karpeto, Lobonok, Central Equatoria on 18 January 2019. As we reported the perpetrators have reportedly been arrested and are awaiting judicial proceedings. An outcome of the 9thCTSAMVM Technical Committee Meeting was that the incident constitutes a clear violation of Article 126.96.36.199 of the R-ARCSS and that the SSPDF must apply law and order to discipline its soldiers in cases of SGBV.
Yei River area continues to be of great concern. It is clear NAS forces of Thomas Cirillo committed a number of attacks and clearly violated the ACOH. The SSPDF in reaction also violated the ACOH by failing to give CTSAMVM prior notification of its movement. It is becoming increasingly important to resolve the issue of the NAS forces of Thomas Cirillo and other armed groups operating in Greater Equatoria. We will be briefing you in more detail about this and other issues such as growing tensions in Pibor and Wau.
CTSAMVM is independent, neutral and impartial. These are the values that enable CTSAMVM to command the confidence of all parties. Any erosion of these values will go against the benefits of all parties. CTSAMVM will continue working independently, impartially, and neutrally to keep up its credit.
Finally I hope this board meeting would be fruitful, forceful and constructive as before.