Members of the United Nations Security Council have voiced concerns over South Sudan president’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire.
The US, UK and the UN noted that president Salva Kiir’s declaration coincides with the start of the rainy season that traditionally lessens fighting.
“President Kiir this Monday once again declared a unilateral ceasefire and said he has once again agreed to consider the release of political prisoners. We welcome these statements. But the onus is now on him to prove that these are meaningful commitments, not just convenient timing with the start of the rainy season when fighting is made more difficult,” said British UN ambassador Matthew Rycroft.
Kiir declared the unilateral ceasefire as he launched a national dialogue, a controversial bid to end a civil war that excludes his rival former vice president Riek Machar.
“The government a unilateral ceasefire on May 22nd. Two months after it promised IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) it would do so and only after pursuing offensives in multiple locations in South Sudan before the onset of the rainy season,” said Deputy US ambassador to the UN, Michele Sison.
Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan urged the Security Council to unite behind a common strategy for advancing the political process and peace in the crisis-torn country.
David Shearer, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in South Sudan and the head of the Mission, known as UNMISS, said that “unity of purpose will send the best signal to South Sudan’s political leaders to focus first and foremost on the plight of their citizens.”
South Sudan broke into conflict in December 2013. The conflict has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million from their homes.