The Co-Chair of the National Pre-Transitional Committee says the government has so far availed only $10 million to facilite its work as mandated in May, 2019.
This is short of the $100 million the government pledged to expedite the implementation of key peace provisions within the pre-transitional period.
According to Gabriel Changson Chang, the amount provided has enabled the committee to facilitate the work of the Joint Defense Board, including the cantonment of some forces.
Last month, the NPTC said it was still experiencing shortages of funds, with only four months left for their term to end.
The term of the NPTC was extended in May after the parties agreed it was crucial to first implement the aspects of the security arrangement before the formation of the government of national unity.
These arrangements include; the cantonment, training, unification and deployment of forces across the country.
The NPTC previously proposed a $285 million budget to also cover the activities of its sub-committees and the national constitutional amendment committee.
The government pledged to make available an additional $100 million to expedite the implementation of the pending task.
Speaking in Rome last week during the visit by the NPTC members to the Vatican, Changson said due to the financial challenges, it is likely that some of the provisions of the pre-transitional period will be implemented even after the formation of the coalition government.
“The peace agreement we are implementing is a process, and we are going to implement all the tasks that are earmarked for implementation, some will last up to the pre-transitional period, and others will go into the transitional period,” Changson said.
A senior opposition leader said the money availed is already depleted because it also being used to facilitate the work of the various security mechanisms such as those under the Joint Defense Board.
Angelina Teny said the actual cantonment and training of forces may not take place with such meagre resources.
“For you to take big numbers such as one cantonment is supposed to be nearly 4000 [that] is 3,750, $10 million is very little because as you know it is being shared with logistics of those who are working in the mechanisms,” she said.
Madam Angelina who is also the Chairperson of Strategic Defense and Security Review Board added that the stability of the next coalition government banks on a reformed security sector.
“Our strong appeal to the government is please let us prioritize peace and the implementation of the security [arrangements],” she said.
The NPTC leadership earlier said attracting donor money has been the main challenge.
In April, Mr. Changson said that it is possible to reduce the budget of the NPTC if it receives material support such as; tents, food, medicines and military uniforms, among others.
The Troika [United States, United Kingdom and Norway] who are the main development donors for South Sudan have been reluctant to fund the process, citing lack of proper accountability measures and the strong will by the parties to respect the agreement in latter and spirit.
But Changson still hopes the international community can support the peace agreement if they see the readiness of the South Sudanese elites to put their country first.
“They can support us. [But] They will not impose that political will [on us]. So lets us cultivate and harness that will to save our country, and to help our people move forward as other nations,” Changson asserted.
Another extension not ideal
The UN, the United States and the African Union on their part have however said the formation of the next government of national unity should not be extended beyond the six months pre-transitional period agreed by the parties last month.
The Special Representative UN Secretary-General to South Sudan, David Shearer said “we should see the peace process as a living document not set on stone,” adding that “there are many advantages to decisions made within a transitional government, because they will be made collectively, transparently, and better able to be held to account by citizens.”
The U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan, Thomas Hushek believes that the leaders are not doing enough, especially when they do not talk to each other.
“It is not enough that a peace agreement was signed; if the parties continue to squabble over the mundane legalities but lose sight of the ambitious spirit of the agreement,” said Ambassador Hushek.
“It’s not enough to wait to set up a power-sharing government four months from now and let the weeks and months slip away without key leaders meeting and talking with each other.”
The African Union Envoy for Infrastructure Development, Raila Odinga -after visiting President Kiir in Juba – also said: “We know there are challenges, but they can all be resolved if everybody agrees to work together.”
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