- Quits on the eve of his birthday
- Says he will explain decision later
- Wants to come home and rest, was irked by slow progress
Former Botswana President Festus Mogae, who has been chairing the regional peace watch team in South Sudan known as the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (Jmec), has decided to call it quits after almost three years of chasing the elusive peace deal.
Mogae who turns 79 years today (Tuesday) was appointed to the post in 2015 by the African Union with a mandate to monitor the implementation of the Agreement for the Resolution of the South Sudan conflict and the tasks of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TgoNU). The committee is overseeing the adherence of the parties to agreed timelines and implementation schedule in the conflict resolution agreement which was signed in August 2015.
In his departure note, Mogae said he is satisfied with the process of peace building so far and wanted to leave it in new hands. However, he promised the world that he will explain the unpopular decision in detail at later stage.
“As the process to revitalise the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan draws to a close, I have adjudged it appropriate to allow for the new phase of the transition period for South Sudan to be in fresh hands,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Jmec was formed to monitor the implementation of the August 2015 peace deal between rebels under Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir. That agreement, however, broke down just a year later, leading to fresh violence.
According to the United Nations, about 2.5 million people have sought refuge in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan. Another 1.82 million have been displaced within the country where an estimated 50,000 people may have been killed since 2013.
Although aggrieved by slow progress and alleged hard core players, Mogae is happy that he has achieved a few milestones in a small space of time despite countless challenges. Mogae credits himself for “revitalising” the failed agreement, leading to the new peace deal. This included among others bringing calm, increasing the number of political players initially side lined and showing detractors the importance of an all inclusive process.
“By the time the new deal was signed, about ten splinter parties initially left out of the negotiation table were taking part. Critics though argued the dragging of talks and allowing of splinter groups encouraged further violence as groups saw it as an opportunity to gain at the table,” quotes the daily nation.
The new deal has provided for Mr Kiir as President and he will be deputised by Dr Machar as first vice president with four other vice-presidents having different roles.
The new system.
The new system according to international reports could have as many as 60 ministers with the positions of deputies shared among different groups that negotiated the deal.
The parliament, the international media says will consist of 550 lawmakers, including 332 from Kiir’s group and 128 from Machar’s faction. In addition, the parties are also to share out state administrations such that the government of President Kiir will retain 55 percent of all the 32 states. Rebels under Dr Machar are to get 27 percent, the grouping of splinter parties under South Sudan Opposition Alliance are to get 10 percent with the rest going to other political parties.
Igad Chairman and Ethiopian Premier Abiy Ahmed is expected to convene a summit where a decision on Mogae’s replacement will be made.
Lack of support.
On several occasions Mogae vented against the African Union for not supporting him, at times blaming them for the eruption and escalation of war in South Sudan. He often said the prolonged initial delay by political leaders, coupled with the lack of implementation of the transitional security arrangements provided fertile ground for mutual suspicion which had the likely effect of, and indeed has triggered the armed conflicts.
Mogae decides to come home to rest.
Since retirement from the presidency in 2008 Mogae has never taken a well deserved rest, engaging in several international missions. The IGAD missions were the most strenuous for him and his family as he was regularly in South Sudan attending to emergency due to the worsening situation in South Sudan.
Mogae steps down at the end of September 2018.