South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister has welcomed the unreleased report by the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan into atrocities committed during the ongoing civil war.
The report, completed last year by a commission led by former Nigeria president Olusegun Obasanjo, is meant to document human rights violations committed during South Sudan’s civil war and recommend a way forward for justice, healing, and reconciliation.
The AU Peace and Security Council has refused to release the report, though recently shared its contents with South Sudan government officials.
In an interview with Radio Tamazuj Monday, Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the report will definitely push for peace in South Sudan.
He said the report confirmed that no genocide took place in South Sudan because the fighting was between one people.
The South Sudanese diplomat further said the AU report will help bring a compromise solution to South Sudan’s civil war.
Hybrid court to investigate war crimes
Marial also welcomed a proposal by the IGAD-Plus mediators that provides for the establishment of a Hybrid Court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute those believed to have planned, ordered, instigated, or participated in genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious crimes during the civil war.
IGAD-Plus has proposed such a court to ensure that there is no amnesty for individuals responsible for breaking international or national laws during the war.
The SPLM-IO head of external relations Dhieu Mathok told Radio Tamazuj they should have been invited to that meeting, saying they requested the African Union Peace and Security Council to participate like the Juba-based government.
Separately, foreign minister Marial commended ongoing efforts by US President Barack Obama to push for peace in South Sudan.
Mathok also commended Obama’s efforts, noting that his group will study the IGAD-Plus compromise peace proposal before resuming peace talks on 6 August.
Machar rejects Museveni involvement
The South Sudanese rebel group SPLM/A-IO has meanwhile strongly objected to the inclusion of Uganda in a committee to study the report.
SPLM-IO disclosed that the African Union Peace and Security Council formed a seven member panel consisting of Algeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda but failed to invite the movement to an “important meeting’ on the atrocities report.
After the meeting Voice of America reported that the AU gave the report to the South Sudanese government but did not release it to the public.
“The SPLM/SPLA strongly objects to the inclusion of Uganda in this Committee. Uganda has been a party to the conflict since the beginning (15th December 2013),” said Riek Machar in a statement dated Friday.
“Uganda has its army (UPDF) and Air Force active in the war on the side of the Juba regime. It has participated in committing genocide, war crimes and has used internationally prohibited ‘cluster bombs’ against civilians in South Sudan.”
The rebel leader called on the international community to investigate the role of Uganda in the South Sudan conflict.