Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and distinguished honourable members.
I very much welcome this opportunity to address you on the recent successfully concluded High Level Revitalization Forum on the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. The acronym I will be using for this is ARCSS.
This is my first presentation to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, and I appreciate the opportunity.
Almost one and a half years ago, the IGAD assembly mandated the High Level Revitalization Forum of the South Sudanese parties and the stakeholders to discuss concrete measures to restore a permanent ceasefire to achieve a full and inclusive implementation of the agreement, and to develop a revised and realistic timeline and implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transitional period.
The assembly further mandated the IGAD Council of Ministers to convene and facilitate this process.
I'm happy to inform you this evening, Mr. Chairman, that the IGAD member states, together with the support of the international community, have successfully come to the end of this noble process with all the South Sudan parties and stakeholders appending their signatures to the revitalized ARCSS. The agreement was signed at an IGAD summit in Addis Ababa on September 12 of this year.
Mr. Chairman, honourable members, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight our achievements, challenges and outcomes to this august House. I will make these remarks very short.
I will highlight some of the key progress made following the IGAD council decision at the 32nd extraordinary session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 21, during which they inter alia mandated President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to facilitate the second round of face-to-face discussions between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr. Riek Machar Teny to discuss and resolve the outstanding issues on governance and security arrangements, including measures proposed in the revised regional proposals of the IGAD Council of Ministers.
Mr. Chairman, in accordance with the IGAD council decision above, the Khartoum round of talks was launched on June 25 of this year as a continuation of the two phases of the HLRF and the face-to-face talks held here in Addis Ababa. The Khartoum talks followed the signing of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians and Humanitarian Access, signed on December 22, 2017, and the initialling of several agreed-on governance and security issues that had been accomplished here in Addis Ababa. The Khartoum talks, including a round of face-to-face meetings held in Entebbe, Uganda, quickly produced results, including an agreement between the two principals, His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former first vice-president, His Excellency Riek Machar Teny to work together to end the conflict.
Prior to the currently revitalized ARCSS 2018, the South Sudanese parties and the stakeholders had concluded several agreements.
First was the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement Between Parties of the Conflict of South Sudan, signed on June 27, 2018.
Second was the agreement on the outstanding transitional security arrangements, signed on July 6, 2018.
Third, the agreement on the outstanding governance issues for the transitional period was signed on July 25, 2018.
Finally, the agreement on the outstanding issues on governance was signed on August 5, 2018.
Mr. Chairman, the signing of the full text of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan on September 3 was a milestone and marks an end to formal negotiations on the HLRF.
The revitalized agreement was also preceded by the initialling of the agreement and by the development of a comprehensive implementation matrix, which were also initialled on September 2 of this year, as well as by the convening of the security arrangement workshop from September 3 to September 5, 2018. The outcome of this workshop was also initialled by the parties.
The HLRF has been an all-inclusive process that enabled all parties to the agreement on the resolution of this conflict—including the estranged groups and other South Sudanese stakeholders, faith-based groups, South Sudanese refugees, civil society organizations, women and youth—to participate in the process.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members, now briefly allow me to update you on some of the IGAD assembly decisions.
The assembly has decided that until his final status is determined at the upcoming ordinary summit of the IGAD assembly, the SPLM-IO leader, Dr. Riek Machar Teny shall be allowed to stay in a country of his choice in the region.
The assembly also resolves that IGAD shall engage the United Nations Security Council to ensure that the regional protection force is fully deployed to execute its mandate in accordance with the UN Security Council's resolutions 2304 in 2016 and 2406 in 2018, and shall request a further review of its mandate to allow Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Somalia as guarantors to contribute forces to enhance the protection and security throughout the implementation of this agreement.
The council further mandates the IGAD chiefs of staff to assess the operational needs and elaborate the necessary tasks of the RPF, the Regional Protection Force, in light of the current situation on the ground, and the prospective expansion as the basis for securing an endorsement from the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council.
Mr. Chairman and honourable members, as I conclude, allow me to congratulate all the South Sudanese parties for conducting their talks in good faith and for their determination and resilience.
At IGAD we will work closely with all the political stakeholders in the country as well as regional and international partners for an inclusive, impartial and honest implementation of this agreement. The signing of the agreement in September was not forced upon the parties. It shows an act of compromise and leadership.
We at IGAD are hopeful for the future, though we do not underestimate the task ahead. The announcement to release more political prisoners and the call to open humanitarian access routes and to allow free movement of people are important indicators that the parties are willing and able to make compromises.
That key opposition leaders came to Juba just last week after a long absence to share the podium in the spirit of compromise and national solidarity is a public signal that the much-needed vision of trust and inclusive implementation of the agreement is under way. The implementation of this agreement has begun in earnest, and key implementation institutions for governance, security and monitoring have been established.
We thank with our whole heart the African Union Commission, the United Nations, the European Union, Troika countries, China, Japan, Canada and IPF members for their contribution to this process.
The Government of Canada has provided generous funding to IGAD for this process and its implementation.
Mr. Chairman, finally I want to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to you for this opportunity to brief this distinguished select committee, and I look forward to closely working with you in implementing the revitalized agreement. Rebuilding South Sudan and responding to the current dire humanitarian situation and security challenges requires our collective action.
I thank you.