Former Botswana President Festus Mogae, who has been chairing the regional peace watch team in South Sudan, the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (Jmec), has announced he is stepping down as the leader of the group.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Mogae said he is satisfied with the process of peace building so far and wanted to leave it in new hands, although he did promise to explain his decision in detail later.
“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.
Jmec was formed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), 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. That agreement, however, broke down just a year later, leading to fresh violence.
Early this month, Mr Kiir and Dr Machar signed another peace deal.
The implementation of that deal is due to start soon, giving hope to South Sudanese who have fled their homes. 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.
NEW PEACE DEAL
Mr Mogae credits himself for “revitalising” the failed agreement, leading to the new peace deal.
In other words, he argues that he 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 ten splinter parties initially left out of the negotiation table were taking part.
Critics though argued the dragging of talks and allowing of splinter groups encouraged further violence as groups saw it as an opportunity to gain at the table.
The new deal has provided for Mr Kiir as President and he will be deputised by Dr Machar as first vice president with four other vice-presidents having different roles.
Dr 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.
The new system could have as many as 60 ministers with the positions of deputies shared among different groups that negotiated the deal.
The parliament will consist of 550 lawmakers, including 332 from Kiir’s group and 128 from Machar’s faction.
In addition, the parties are also to share out state administrations such that the government of President Kiir will retain 55 percent of all the 32 states.
Rebels under Dr Machar are to get 27 percent, the grouping of splinter parties under South Sudan Opposition Alliance are to get 10 percent with the rest going to other political parties.
Mr Mogae wrote to Igad informing it of his intention to step down by the end of September.
Igad Chairman and Ethiopian Premier Abiy Ahmed is expected to convene a summit where a decision on the replacement will be made.