Some residents of a South Sudanese displaced persons’ camp say the head of the group that monitors the country’s 2015 peace deal should be fired.
The residents accuse Festus Mogae, who chairs the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, or JMEC, of failing to report what they say are killings, rapes, and other crimes committed by government forces against civilians.
Bikan Kuol, a community leader at the IDP camp in Juba, says Mogae has betrayed the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese who are living in United Nations-run camps or have fled the country since South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013.
“As he has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that he is no longer impartial. And he fears telling the truth to the international community about actual events happening in the country,” Kuol told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.
Ann Dau, a 39-year-old mother of eight, said she is tired of living in the IDP camp. She says she and her family ventured outside the camp for a time last year, but had to restrict their movements after renewed fighting broke out between government forces and rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar last July.
“We tried to move freely without fear. But July 2016, there were a lot of rape [and] killing; even women were killed during that time. So now for this time we need Festus Mogae not to be there,” Dau said.
South Sudan In Focus reached out to JMEC’S communications officer in Juba, Mohammed Adow, for comment on this story. Adow said Mogae is out of the country, but added he would forward VOA’s request for an interview.
More than two million South Sudanese have been displaced from their homes during a war driven by political disputes and tribal rivalries.
President Salva Kiir and Machar’s rebels signed a peace deal in August 2015 and established a transitional government of national unity, but clashes have continued. Mogae, the former president of Botswana, was appointed chairman of JMEC, which is tasked with monitoring implementation of the agreement.
Under Mogae, JMEC has repeatedly blamed both sides for violating the peace deal. On March 17, Mogae told the African Union Peace and Security Council that the situation has deteriorated to an unacceptable level and asked both the government and rebels to comment on the alleged violations.
In February, he said that the continued disrespect of the cease-fire by both sides, other armed groups, and what he called “criminals” during the past few months had worsened the situation, forcing many civilians to flee the country.
Kuol said that’s not enough. He said since July, government forces have violated the peace agreement many times and JMEC Chairman Mogae has remained silent about the killings, rapes, and torture.
“We the IDPs, we want peace, but peace without Mr. Festus Mogae because Festus Mogae has failed in reporting everything. Because he is supposed to write whatever obstructs the peace, but unfortunately he has failed to do that. His being here in Juba is nothing,” Kuol said.