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South Sudan’s peace monitors on Wednesday commended improved security situation for facilitating the spontaneous return of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to their original areas.

The remark was made by Augostino Njoroge, Interim Chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluating Commission (RJMEC), as he presented major developments in South Sudan’s peace process as parties to a peace deal gathered here on Wednesday to find solutions to the stalemate on the permanent resolution to the six-year-long conflict in South Sudan.

“The Permanent Ceasefire has continued to hold, and this has resulted in an overall improvement in the general security situation that we witness today across the country,” the chairperson said, adding “I commend all the parties for observing the Permanent Ceasefire.”

“The security situation has contributed to improved access to humanitarian activities, including decisions by some refugees and IDPs to spontaneously return to their areas,” Njoroge said.

RJMEC’s latest progress report also urged parties to realize the major objectives of the Pre-Transitional Period of the revitalized September 2018 peace agreement, which the signatories to South Sudan’s fragile peace agreement agreed on May 3 to extend the formation of the transitional government by six months following delays in the implementation of the pact over unresolved issues.

“I regret to report sporadic incidents of fighting” between National Salvation Front (NAS) forces, led by a renegade general Gen. Thomas Cirillo, and the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) that occurred in Yei area in June 2019, Njoroge said.

The Interim Chairperson also urged South Sudan’s disputing parties to immediately and completely demilitarize all the civilian centers, in line with the Pre-Transitional Period of the revitalized 2018 peace accord.

Njoroge, who stressed that “civilian centers occupied by some armed forces are gradually being vacated,” also commended some armed factions for their efforts to demilitarize all the civilian centers.

“I am encouraged by reports that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO), led by former first vice president Riek Machar, vacated all the civilian centers they initially occupied,” Njoroge said.

The South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF), on the other hand, “is yet to vacate all the civilian centers its forces have been occupying,” he noted.

Njoroge further reiterated his appeal to “all concerned commanders to immediately and completely demilitarize all the civilian centers.”

He also called on “all forces to desist from and temptation of reoccupying any civilian property.”

The ongoing meeting came following the East African bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), summoned the parties to the 2018 peace deal for a meeting in Addis Ababa to find solutions to the current stalemate amid the approaching deadline for the six-month Pre-Transitional Period.

RJMEC also urged all parties in South Sudan’s September 2018 peace agreement “to give direction and timelines on commencement of training centers across the country and in the respective regions, including training of officers identified for VIP protection.”

It also called on “all forces that are still occupying civilian centers to vacate them immediately and avoid new occupation of civilian property.”

RJMEC also urged parties to South Sudan’s 2018 revitalized peace accord to expedite the process of troop movements to cantonment sites and barracks towards an immediate realization of the agreed Necessary Unified Forces.

It also commended the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC), which has so far made two disbursements to the Joint Defense Board (JDB) totaling 6.5 million U.S. dollars to facilitate the implementation of the transitional security arrangements.

The East African nation has suffered from a civil war since December 2013, following a spat between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar, which left tens of thousands of civilians dead and around 4 million others displaced, according to the UN.

Kiir and Machar signed the revitalized peace deal that was brokered by IGAD in September 2018. The parties to the peace deal also on May 3 agreed to extend the pre-transitional period for another six months before forming the transitional unity government. Enditem

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