New York [US], September 16 (ANI): India on Wednesday (local time) encouraged the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) and new members to the Council of States (COS) in South Sudan to focus on the much-needed legislative work and to meet the benchmarks set in the Revitalized Peace Agreement.
Speaking on the briefing on India's UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Deputy Permanent Representative-Political Coordinator to the United Nations, R Ravindra said, "The developments in South Sudan during the last three months have provided the impetus to the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement. Political violence has decreased, and the parties have been by and large faithful to the Revitalized Agreement. The peaceful cohabitation of various political parties is reassuring and provides hope for peace and stability."
The Governments of Sudan and South Sudan signed the Revitalized Peace Agreement in 2018, close to 300,000 South Sudanese refugees spontaneously returned, with over one million more displaced inside the country also going back to their homes.
Applauding South Sudan for taking noteworthy steps, he said, "The Presidency of the Republic of South Sudan and the leadership has taken noteworthy steps. The appointment of new members to the COS with a large representation of women, reconstitution of the TNLA, and their swearing into office in August, the appointment of the first woman Speaker, and new political appointments are indeed all positive signs."
Talking about killings on the Juba-Nimule road, he said, "Nevertheless, the recent suspension of the Rome initiative, in the wake of killings on the Juba-Nimule road is a matter of concern. It is important to resume talks, on a priority basis, to revive the reconciliation process between the Transitional Government, and the South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA)."
He said that in wake of the killings, the launching of the consultative process for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH) is a positive step.
"We hope that the South Sudan leadership and parties will work towards consolidating these positive developments in the coming months," added the Indian envoy.
He also said that economic reforms have continued to improve macroeconomic stability and public finances in the country, and helped to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the security front, he said that localized violence has increased but it was encouraging that the ceasefire has continued to hold.
"The defections and internal disputes, and fighting within SPLM/A-IO (SPLM-Army in opposition) has unfortunately resulted in fatalities. We commend the mediating role of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in addressing the situation. The continuing violence calls for an early establishment of the Unified Command of the military and the graduation of the Necessary Unified Forces, which is a critical aspect of the Agreement," he said.
He supported the call given by the Presidency of South Sudan for cessation of hostilities between the rival factions and observance of a reasonable distance to prevent further violence.
Ravindra also appreciated the continuing cooperation between the Transitional Government and UNMISS in providing protection to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in camps for the internally displaced, which are now under the sovereign control of the Government.
"We urge UNMISS to continue to move forward on the transition of the Malakal Protection of Civilians site, as conditions permit, and in line with its mandate. The humanitarian needs of the population are increasing and the international community needs to step in to bridge the funding gap in the budget," he added.
Regarding concerns about violations under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), he said, "This needs to be addressed in a pro-active manner by the Transitional Government working together with UNMISS authorities. We condemn targeting of and attacks against humanitarian workers and assets, including the looting of humanitarian supplies in conflict-affected areas, which have significantly impacted operations negatively."
India has been one of the largest Troop-contributing countries (TCCs) to UNMISS since its establishment a decade ago. Last month, India contributed to and partnered with the UN in the rolling out of the UNITE Aware platform, initially in four UN Peacekeeping Missions, which possibly includes UNMISS.
The Indian contingent in UNMISS is also contributing to the sustainable development and welfare of the people of South Sudan. Computer training and veterinary assistance camps have been organized by the Indian Battalion during this month.
"It is a matter of immense pride that 135 of my fellow countrymen, serving as part of UNMISS, have recently been awarded UN medals for their outstanding performance in Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.
"Taking this opportunity, I would like to pay tribute to Indian peacekeepers Corporal Yuvraj Singh and Ivan Michael Picardo who have been posthumously awarded the prestigious Dag Hammarskjold Medal this year for their courage and sacrifice in the line of duty," said Ravindra.
India was one of the Council members that joined the comity of nations to welcome South Sudan on July 9, 2011.
"India congratulates the people and Government of South Sudan on their tenth anniversary as an independent and sovereign State. We believe, at this transformative phase, South Sudan requires the wholehearted support of the international community, including from the IGAD, AU and UN. For its part, India will continue to support South Sudan, and its people," said the Indian envoy. (ANI)