By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone - Former Botswana President Festus Mogae has resigned as the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) in South Sudan effective end of September 2018.
Mogae was appointed on 19 October 2015 to head a commission tasked with monitoring the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.
In a statement released by his office, Mogae said he is satisfied with the process of peace building in so far and wanted to leave it in new hands, although he did promise to explain his decision in detail later. Sudan
“As the process to revitalise the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan draws to a close, I have adjudged it appropriate to allow for the new phase of the transition period for South Sudan to be in fresh hands,” he said in a statement.
Reports indicate that JMEC was formed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the regional bloc that had been ‘midwifing’ peace in South Sudan since December 2013.
JMEC was formed to monitor the implementation of the August 2015 peace deal between rebels under Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir. Sudanese media indicate that that agreement, however, broke down just a year later, leading to fresh outbreaks of violence. The media in that country also reported that early this month, Kiir and Machar signed another peace deal.
The implementation of that deal is due to start soon, giving hope to the South Sudanese who have fled their homes while others have been killed in their thousands.
According to the UN, about 2.5 million people have sought refuge in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Another 1.82 million have been displaced within the country where an estimated 50,000 people may have been killed since 2013.
Mogae is credited for “revitalising” the failed agreement, leading to the new peace deal.
He says he has helped address the weaknesses in the earlier agreement such as changing political situation and increased number of political players initially left out.
By the time the new deal was signed, about 10 splinter parties initially left out of the negotiation table were taking part.
Critics though argued that the dragging of talks and allowing of splinter groups encouraged further violence as groups saw it as an opportunity to secure a place at the table.
The new deal has provided for Kiir as President and he will be deputised by Machar as first vice president with four other vice-presidents having different roles.
Lam Akol, the leader of opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Democratic Change, opposed the “bloated” government, arguing that the two leaders had shot down suggestions to adopt a leaner structure.
Mogae was the third president of Botswana from 1998 to 2008 when he voluntarily stepped down. Before he was elected to the presidency, he served in many capacities including being the Chairman of Southern African Development Community Council of Ministers from 1992 until 1996 and vice president of his country.