With South Sudan’s parties missing last week’s deadline to set up the Transitional Government of National Unity amid deadlock over establishing 28 states, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called on the war-torn country’s African partners to save the peace process.
“He encourages the (East African) Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and African Union (AU) member States to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming African Union summit to address the political impasse that is impeding the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity,” a statement issued by his spokesman said.
IGAD, the AU, the UN, China, Norway, United Kingdom and United States sponsored a peace agreement which President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President Riek Machar signed in August to end the bloody conflict that erupted between their factions two years ago, killing thousands, displacing over 2.4 million people, and endangering the food security of 4.6 million.
Senior UN officials have warned that repeated ceasefire violations by both the Government and opposition, with tens of thousands of additional people fleeing their homes, threaten to undermine the peace process in the country, which only gained independence in 2009 after breaking away from Sudan, its northern neighbour.
“The Secretary-General expresses his concern over the parties’ deadlock over the issue of the establishment of 28 states, and their failure to meet the 22 January deadline to establish the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan,” the statement said.
“He stresses that the formation of the Transitional Government is an essential step in implementing the peace agreement and laying the foundation for peace and stability in the country…
“The Secretary-General reaffirms that the United Nations will continue to do all it can to support the people of South Sudan who continue to be subjected to unimaginable suffering and human rights abuses, as they have been since the beginning of the conflict over two years ago.”
Just last month, the Security Council increased the UN peacekeeping level in the country by more than 1,000 to a ceiling of 15,000 troops and police, citing protection of civilians “by all necessary means” as its top priority amid “reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity” have been committed.
The Mission currently has some 12,500 uniformed personnel on the ground.