Implementation of key aspects of the South Sudan peace agreement are being affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Key among them is the implementation of security arrangements that was to follow the formation of the transitional government of national unity (TGoNU), but the meagre funds to finance it have been diverted to combat Covid-19.
The situation has been made worse by the drop in global crude oil prices as global energy demands decrease due to the pandemic. The resource accounts for 98 per cent of South Sudan’s budget.
The funds for the implementation of the security arrangements were supposed to come from the oil resources, but most of the funds are now being diverted to Covid-19 programmes.
“Funding from donors to non-governmental organisations and Western governments’ grants have been disrupted by the pandemic. The earlier donor fatigue has now been made worse by the shifting of world attention towards Covid-19,” said John Pen, a member of the civil society who took part in the peace negotiations.
With troops cantonment and training having slowed down due to lack of funds and restrictions on movement, the programme for training and unification of armed groups is now running behind schedule.
Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), Gen Augustino Njoroge in a presentation to Igad Council of Ministers in Khartoum on April 22, said that limited training and vetting of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF), continues albeit with restricted access to the training centres.
“There are various challenges reported at cantonment sites, such as insufficient food supply, lack of medicines, poor sanitary conditions and lack of separate facilities and dignity kits for female trainees and dependents at the centres,” said Gen Njoroge.
He said that there are about 78,500 security personnel currently registered at the various cantonment sites, barracks and training centres. About 35,000 combatants and around 45,500 personnel still remain in cantonment sites, with 3,612 being the NUF and the VIP Protection Forces are yet to be formed.
Gen Njoroge, however, said the recent announcement by the transitional government of the establishment of a Transitional Committee for Co-ordination of the Implementation of Security Arrangements is a positive indication that the government will complete the pending security tasks.
Angelina Teny, the new Defence Minister has appealed to the Treasury to prioritise paying the soldiers who last got their salaries in December 2019.