December 19, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – Foreign ministers from a number of East African nations travelled to South Sudan on Thursday, where they will attempt to find a political solution aimed at ending the ongoing crisis in the country.
The high-level delegation from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is led by Ethiopia’s minister of foreign affairs, Tedros Adhanom.
The delegation also comprises of ministers from Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda.
The ministers are expected to hold separate talks with South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and alleged coup plotter and former vice-president Riek Machar.
“We will travel to Juba to gain first-hand knowledge of the situation on the ground, and discuss ways to seek a political settlement to the crisis”, Adhanom told reporters before leaving to Juba.
In a televised address on Monday, the president accused forces loyal to Machar, whom Kirr sacked in July, of being behind the alleged coup attempt. Machar denies the accusations and Kiir has since softened his stance, saying he is ready to enter dialogue.
The IGAD delegation’s visit to South Sudan comes a day after Kiir indicated that he was prepared to hold discussions with Machar on peacefully resolving the crisis in the new nation.
The UN said up to 500 people had been killed and some 800 others wounded since violence broke out on Sunday night in Juba.
An estimated 20,000 people have sought refuge at UN compounds.
On Tuesday, the African Union (AU) expressed grave concern over the security situations in South Sudan, urging the government and other stakeholders to exercise maximum restraint and avert any further escalation in the violence.
The chairperson of the AU commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also expressed concern over the safety of the civilian population.
Along with the IGAD delegation, the AU commissioner for peace and security, special representative of the secretary-general for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and a representative from the African Union High level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) will also be participating in the talks in Juba.