By Sudan Tribune,
THE African Union has supported calls for an arms embargo on South Sudan as fighting resumed between its warring parties, in violation of the cessations of hostilities agreement.
The AU commission, at the meeting held in Namibia, had briefed its Peace and Security Council on the developments and situation in South Sudan.
The Council expressed its concern over the deteriorating situation in South Sudan, including the escalation of hostilities and the grave humanitarian situation of civilians affected by the ongoing conflict.
The continental body criticised the warring parties for abandoning dialogue and resorting to war as a way to end their impasse.
The Council further noted that the people of South Sudan have already been devastated by war, and that the current escalation threatens to unleash irreversible consequences on the young nation.
“[The] council strongly condemned the resumption of hostilities in South Sudan and the untold suffering inflicted on the civilian population, in total disregard of International Humanitarian Law,” the AU said in a statement.
It further expressed deep disappointment over the failure of the leaders of the belligerent parties in South Sudan to rise above personal and factional political interests and put the national interest and well-being of their people first.
The council has stressed that these actions are wholly contrary to the expressed will of the AU, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, UN and the international community as a whole.
“In this regard, [the] council called for urgent steps by the sanctions committee, established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015), to designate individuals and entities subject to the measures provided for therein. Council requested the UN Security Council to urgently consider the immediate imposition of an arms embargo on the belligerents,” its statement further read.
Meanwhile, the council reiterated its commitment to extend full support to the IGAD mediation efforts in South Sudan, notably through the early operationalisation of the AU High-Level ad hoc Committee, established by the Peace and Security Council in December 2014, and other related measures.
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Sanctions Will Worsen Conflict, President Kiir Warns
South Sudan leader, Salva Kiir has cautioned over calls for sanctions, saying it will worsen the country’s ongoing conflict.
The warning comes amid renewed military clashes in recent weeks between South Sudan government forces and the armed opposition groups.
“At this time, discussion of sanctions is unproductive,” said a statement from the presidency, adding “Sanctions will only serve to fan the flames of the current tensions”.
“They [sanction] will not speed up dialogue and compromise and they will not feed and employ the people of South Sudan,” it adds.
Violence erupted in the South Sudanese capital, Juba in December 2013 after political wrangles within the ruling party. President Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar of an alleged coup attempt as fighting intensified in three of the nation’s 10 state.
This week, the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the renewed and ongoing large scale violence in South Sudan’s Unity state, saying military offensives by pro-government forces had led to the displacement of over 100,000 civilians.
Over 300,000 civilians have reportedly been denied access to aid being provided by aid agencies and organisation as a result from fighting between the warring factions.
The 15-member UN body further condemned the large-scale attack by armed opposition forces in Malakal, the Upper Nile state capital on 15 May, 2015.
“The members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest terms the repeated violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement … and underscored that there is no military solution to this conflict,” the council said in a statement.
“The members of the council further expressed their condemnation of the large-scale attack initiated by the SPLM/A (in Opposition) on the town of Malakal in Upper Nile State”, the statement said.
Members of the council called on all the parties to engage meaningfully in the peace process so as to bring about a political solution to the crisis and an end to the conflict.
The council expressed concern about the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in the country and renewed its call for the parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate the “full, safe and unhindered access” of humanitarian personnel, equipment and supplies to all those in need and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance.
It further condemned all human rights violations and abuses and demanded an immediate end to them, noting that the government bears the primary responsibility to protect the civilians from abuses and from potential crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“They reiterated their willingness to impose sanctions against those who threaten the peace , security or stability of South Sudan as established in the resolution 2206 (2015) and noted the 24 March 2015 African Union Peace and Security Council communiqué on South Sudan and the 12 May 2015 African Union Commission Chairperson’s Statement on South Sudan in this regard”, it stated.
The UN says over 2 million people have been displaced, 1.5 million internally, and 500,000 in neighbouring countries as a result of the South Sudanese conflict, while over 2.5 million people likely to face food insecurity, especially in Greater Upper Nile region.