The head of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM), General Molla Hailemariam, said on Thursday, June 30, that he was concerned that his teams could not fully investigate violence which still afflicts parts of South Sudan, despite the peace deal and the formation of a new government.
“It is worrisome that violence continues to occur, as evidenced by the clashes that broke out in Kajo Keji, Central Equatoria, Raja, Western Bahr El Ghazal, Leer, Unity State and the most recent and appalling fighting in Wau, Western Bahr El Ghazal last week. The shooting at two cars belonging to the SPLM-IO in Juba is deplorable,” Hailemariam said as he opened the eighth CTSAMM meeting.
The CTSAMM said it was deeply concerned about these incidents and had sent teams to verify the shooting at SPLM-IO cars in Juba, and violent incidents in Leer and Wau.
His organisation urged the parties to stick to their commitments to uphold the provisions of the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements “and refrain from taking any action that may lead to escalation of tension”, he said.
The ceasefire monitoring body also said its staff was repeatedly blocked from access to high-tension areas. The denial of freedom of movement had worsened in some areas, Hailemariam said.
The CTSAMM had repeatedly called on government and SPLA-IO forces to grant its staff unhindered access to verify ceasefire violations, but the organisation’s staff continued to face a series of obstacles, restrictions, harassment and intimidation, he said.
On Wednesday, officials of newly created Imatong State arrested and detained the leader of the ceasefire body’s Monitoring and Verification Team (MVT) in Torit, forcing other personnel to seek protection at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“They are unable to leave the compound to carry out activities due to the threat of arrest,” Ruth Feeny, the Strategic Communication Officer at CTSAMM told a local radio in Juba.
It was unacceptable to allow this harassment against Monitoring and Verification Teams to continue, Hailemariam stressed. Without freedom of movement, his staff would be unable to serve the interests of the people of South Sudan.
“A paralysed CTSAMM will in no way serve the interests of the people of South Sudan,” he said, calling on the transitional government to take action to ensure the organisation’s staff risk-free travel.
The peace monitors said they were unable to effectively verify ceasefire violations because cantonment sites for armed opposition forces are yet to be established.
The Transitional Government of National Unity urgently needed to start the process of determining cantonment sites to ensure security is kept in keeping with the peace agreement inked in August 2015, Hailemariam said.
“The importance of confidence building between the parties at all levels cannot be overemphasised,” he added.