Fresh talks on the crisis in South Sudan on Monday began in Addis Ababa as pressure mounts on leaders to take stronger action to end the country’s four-year civil war.
The talks in Addis Ababa have been convened by the East African bloc IGAD (Inter Governmental Authority on Development) to push the warring sides back to the negotiating table after a 2015 peace deal collapsed.
Ethiopia’s foreign minister Workneh Gebeyehu said this was the “very last chance” to end the “nightmare” for South Sudanese people.
You must show a real political will and commitment to peace. It is your full responsibility. That is your country. This is your people. To save your country and your people take more concrete, definite actions. Make no mistake.
“You must show a real political will and commitment to peace. It is your full responsibility. That is your country. This is your people. To save your country and your people take more concrete, definite actions. Make no mistake, you collectively by your political and personal interest are responsible for the nightmare your own people are through.
“You have had numerous opportunities to change directions. You have repeatedly failed to do so. Let me underline again; this really is the very last chance for you to accept your responsibilities and take the necessary action to ensure South Sudanese peace and prosperity,” Workneh said.
The United States banned the export of weapons and defense services to South Sudan, stepping up pressure against Salva Kiir and signaling that Washington is losing patience with the young nation’s leaders after repeated agreements to end the violence.
Organizations working for peace in South Sudan are positive that measures put in place to help the process.
“The cessation of hostilities agreement has outlined the measures and these measures include travel bans in the region for parties that continue to jeopardize the peace process in South Sudan, and it includes asset freeze and also restrictions on flow of weapons to the country and we believe these are the measures that have been accepted in the cessation of hostilities agreement and if there is any attempt to jeopardize the process and IGAD takes these steps, I think it will force the parties to reconsider their decisions and really contribute constructively to the search for peace in our country,” Rajab noted.
Neighbouring countries and African groups, such as the eight-member IGAD are under increased pressure to sanction South Sudanese officials who undermine the peace process.
IGAD has said it would impose a range of sanctions if warring sides violate any future deals to end the crisis.
The war began in 2013 between soldiers of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer.
Tens of thousands of people have died and a third of South Sudan’s 12 million population have fled their homes.
The war has been marked by brutal attacks against civilians, which has sparked the region’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.