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Western nations call for ceasefire in South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Three Western countries on Friday condemned continuing violence in South Sudan and urged the government to end offensives against opposition forces near the Ethiopian border.

In a joint statement issued in Juba, Norway, Britain and the United States which are members of the Troika (peace deal guarantors) condemned the current offensive against SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) forces near Pagak, as well as ongoing road ambushes and attacks by the SPLM-IO.

The countries backed regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which had urged President Salva Kiir to ensure that his forces respect the unilateral ceasefire, for the armed opposition groups to reciprocate the ceasefire, and for all groups to allow the unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance to all those in need.

“We also welcome IGAD’s announcement of a high-level revitalization forum for the South Sudan peace process,” the countries said of the forum which will be held in Juba on Monday.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

The Western nations called into question the government’s commitment to reach peace through the National Dialogue, albeit the sincere efforts undertaken by the leaders of the Steering Committee.

“The Troika and EU agree with IGAD that the Forum should focus on achieving a ceasefire and resuming political dialogue that focuses on updating the agreement’s timelines and other provisions that are now obsolete in light of the expansion of conflict since 2015,” it said.

“The proliferation of violence, displacement, and food insecurity renders any discussion of elections in the foreseeable future as an unnecessary diversion from the primary goals of achieving peace and reconciliation,” Troika said.

They called on South Sudan’s leaders, neighbors, and regional and international partners to first focus on achieving peace in order to create the conditions needed to hold credible elections.

“To achieve these urgent goals, we look forward to the prompt revitalization of an inclusive and credible peace process by IGAD; such progress would be required in order for the Troika and EU to commit further resources to institutions designed to implement the agreement,” the countries said.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting that pitted mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee into exile.



South Sudan needs to return to peace, says UN official

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- A senior UN official said Thursday that challenges must be overcome to put South Sundan back on track for peace.

“The peace process faces numerous challenges that must be overcome if we are to make the most of the opportunity created by the deployment of the regional protection force and put the country back on the track for peace and stability,” El Ghassim Wane, assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said when briefing the Security Council on South Sudan Thursday morning.

He warned that “the security environment remains extremely volatile” and stressed that South Sudan “needs an effective and credible ceasefire.”

Wane added that every effort should be made to ensure that “the National Dialogue is inclusive, transparent, takes place in a free and secure environment and is supported by a broad political consensus.”

He also underlined the need for the international community to send strong messages to the South Sudanese leadership of all sides that “the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable.”

“A change in behavior is long overdue,” he said, adding that the pursuit of political objectives through violence should not be allowed to continue.

On Wednesday, a delegation from the UN Mission in South Sudan and government officials visited Kolmerek village in the Jonglei region. They condemned a violent attack that happened there last weekend and called for calm.

The UN mission is supporting peace efforts and has sent peacekeepers to the area. 



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