February 5, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has urged the warring parties in South Sudan ensure the ongoing talks offer the “last chance” for peace.
- Ethiopian FM and Chairperson of the IGAD Council Workneh Gebeyehu shakes hands with President Salva Kiir in Juba following a meeting with the IGAD foreign ministers on 24 July 2017 (IGAD photo)
“This is your very last chance,” the IGAD Council of Ministers Chairman Workineh Gebeyehu said on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday.
The second phase of the IGAD-brokered South Sudanese peace talks have resumed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, despite a boycott by the government delegation demanding more representation.
The talks, according to the regional bloc, sets out to restore a permanent cease-fire, implement the 2015 peace agreement fully, develop a revised and realistic timeline, and an implementation schedule towards a democratic election at the end of the transition period.
Gebeyehu expressed concerns that the cessation of hostilities agreement signed late last year had repeatedly been violated.
“It is critical time to revisit the range of political measures to take on violators and spoilers of the cessation of hostilities agreement,” he said.
The African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the participants to have the needed seriousness and courage to shoulder their responsibility at this critical juncture in the history of their country.
“The commitment that had been made has never been honoured. Hardly the ink [on the cessation of hostilities agreement] had dried that clashes erupted in numerous parts of the country,” he stressed.
For his part, IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ismail Wais, urged the parties to desist from ceasefire violations. Further, he pointed that the AU, IGAD, and the United Nations have already condemned the ceasefire breaches and warned that the spoilers and violators will face sanctions.
“In that regard, the region and the international community are ready to take punitive measures against individuals and organizations that have been verified as violators of this Agreement. These aren’t empty threats,” he said.
South Sudan has been mired in conflict between the government of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebels led by ex-Vice President Riek Machar since December 2013. The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced almost more than 2 million people from their homes, including over a million refugees who have fled to the neighbouring nations.