- The Chair, African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC)
- The President, United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
- The Chair of IGAD-Plus, C/o H.E Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
- H.E. Festus G. Mogae, Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC)
From: Equatorian Leaders in the Diaspora
- Mr. Federico Vuni, Chair, Equatoria Community Organisation in the UK
- Mr. Kwaje Lasu, President, Equatorian South Sudanese Community Association, USA
- Mr. Joseph Modi, President, Equatorian South Sudanese Community Association, Canada
- Mr William Orule, Interim Chair, Federation of Equatoria Community Associations in Australia
Date: 9th November 2016
RE: THE COMPOSITION OF THE PROPOSED REGIONAL PROTECTION FORCE
1. We, the Equatorian Leaders in Diaspora, continue to welcome the overdue deployment of a Regional Protection Force (RPF) to Juba, as mandated by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2304. We urge that troop contributions must come from Western African and Southern African countries. Countries neighbouring South Sudan have conflicts of interest that will compromise their impartiality in discharging the mandate of the RPF effectively.
2. We acknowledge that the RPF alone will not bring lasting peace to South Sudan. But we believe the RPF is essential towards creating an environment in Juba that is conducive to the resumption of a credible and inclusive peace process by enabling all stakeholders to take an active role in its implementation. We also believe the RPF will be vital in providing the long suffering residents of Juba the opportunity to resume their lives free from the debilitating threat of insecurity, which the Government of South Sudan has been unable or unwilling to address.
3. We note the recent decision by authorities in the Republic of Kenya to extradite James Gatdet Dak, a prominent opposition spokesman and registered asylum seeker, to Juba. It must be assumed that his extradition was carried out in the full knowledge that detention and ill treatment at the hands of South Sudan’s security services would likely follow his arrival in South Sudan. We also note the decision by the Government of the Republic of Kenya to withdraw its peace keeper contribution from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) with immediate effect and to disengage from further involvement the peace process.
4. We note the repeated diplomatic and military interventions in support of President Salva Kiir’s administration by the Government of the Republic of Uganda. Ugandan authorities have recently agreed to support the government of South Sudan in the areas of border security and highway security, signing a memorandum of understanding in October that enables the Uganda Police Force to deploy on Equatoria’s roads. We are also aware of worrying allegations that South Sudanese security agents are allowed by Ugandan authorities to operate with impunity in northern Uganda, targeting refugees who have sought sanctuary in the area.
5. We note the series of cooperation agreements, recently signed between the Government of Federal Republic of Ethiopia and President Salva Kiir’s administration, following the visit of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, to Juba in late October. In Prime Minister Desalegn’s own words, these agreements promise to usher in a period of “strong army-to-army cooperation” between Ethiopian and South Sudanese armed forces in mutual pursuit of internal and border security.
6. We note the Republic of Sudan’s enduring concerns over the support given to Sudanese rebel groups by Salva Kiir’s administration. These concerns were echoed by the US State Department who, in an October statement, warned South Sudanese authorities to “cease harbouring or providing support for Sudanese armed opposition groups, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 2046.” We acknowledge that the imperative to ending this support is an overarching priority for the Sudanese government and bilateral agreements have been entered to with South Sudanese authorities.
7. And although not a bordering country, we acknowledge the willingness of the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt to actively participate in the RPF. We note the Egyptian authority’s interests in the contentious topic of the management of the Nile waters and their long standing engagement with President Salva Kiir’s administration in pursuit of these interests. We also take note of the Egyptian authority’s widely publicised aspirations for the resumption of the deeply unpopular Jonglei Canal Project, which promises to make more water available for Egyptian agriculture and inflict massive environmental damage while disrupting vital ecosystems and habitats, in South Sudan.
8. We acknowledge that each of these countries must prioritise their own national interest when approaching the regional challenge presented by the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan. It is precisely because of this consideration, that we feel they will be unable to exercise due impartiality as troop contributing countries of the RPF. Impartiality is essential to the effectiveness of the RPF in facilitating the implementation of the peace process to a genuinely sustainable conclusion, and addressing the shortcomings identified in the report of the recent investigation into UNMISS’ response to the July 2016 crisis in Juba.
9. Impartiality is also vital to the credibility of the RPF in the eyes of the people of South Sudan. It must be acknowledged that, irrespective of political affiliation, a significant proportion of South Sudanese remain deeply suspicious of the involvement of regional countries in South Sudan’s affairs. They are also highly sceptical of the efficacy of regional intervention in impartially resolving the conflict in South Sudan. We applaud the Governments of Uganda, Sudan and, most recently, Kenya for recognising the potential for a conflict of interest and excluding themselves from involvement in the RPF.
10. We, the Equatorian Leaders in Diaspora, would like to take this opportunity to advise both the AUPSC, as commissioners of the RPF, and the UNSC, as authors of the mandate of the RPF to:
- Exclude all bordering countries from consideration as candidates for troop contributing countries to the RPF.
- Exclude all countries with vested interests in supporting either of the major warring parties in the Republic of South Sudan from consideration as candidates for troop contributing countries to the RPF.
- Consider Western African and Southern African countries for candidature of troop contribution for the RPF.
11. We acknowledge the very real challenges in mobilising and financing the RPF. We appreciate the efforts of the AUPSC and the UNSC in working towards the deployment of the RPF. It is our firm belief that, if approached and implemented correctly, the RPF can have an appreciable impact on the lives of the residents of Juba and help bring about lasting peace and stability to South Sudan and to the wider region.
THE EQUATORIA LEADERS IN THE DIASPORA:
Federico Awi Vuni
Chairman, Executive Committee, Equatoria Community Organisation in the UK
Interim Chair, Federation of Equatoria Community Associations in Australia
Kwaje M. Lasu, MPH, RCP
President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-USA (ESSCA-USA)
President, Equatoria South Sudanese Community Association-Canada (ESSCA- Canada)
For Correspondence: Federico Awi Vuni; firstname.lastname@example.org