The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Sunday expressed dismay over the increasing military clashes in South Sudan, especially in the restive Upper Nile region, and calls on South Sudan warring parties to desist from escalating violence.
By Lucy Kamara
South Sudan’s civil war, which began in December 2013, continued in 2016 with serious abuses against civilians by both government forces and opposition fighters despite a peace agreement signed in August 2015.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), both government and opposition forces have used child soldiers since the beginning of the conflict.
Mahamat calls on the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition and other armed movements in South Sudan to immediately desist from fighting, which continues to negatively impact on the security, safety and life of civilians in the country, according to a press release on Sunday.
During his visit to South Sudan in March 2017, the leadership of South Sudan committed to announce a unilateral ceasefire and issuance of amnesty to protagonists who were willing to return to Juba for political engagement.
Mahamat noted that renewed fighting in South Sudan is a clear indication that the warring parties continue to believe in a military solution, fully disregarding the plight of innocent civilians which they claim to represent and defend.
“The immediate consequences of the military clashes on the civilian population are shattering and therefore it should be understood that those engaging in this callous behaviour should be held accountable,” he noted, and strongly calls on the TGoNU, as well as on the other warring parties to immediately cease hostilities and uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians as provided for in the Constitution of the country and the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.
Mahamat also calls for unhindered movement of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) and the UNMISS, as well as for facilitation of access by humanitarian actors to the affected areas.