January 31, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) on Wednesday urged South Sudan’s warring parties to “faithfully” and “fully” abide by provisions last week’s ceasefire, seeking to effectively end hostilities and hostile propaganda.
- IGAD mediators and South Sudan negotiating teams at the sigining of the ceasefire agreement in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 23 January 2014 (Photo: IGAD/CEWARN)
In a communiqué issued at the end of its 114th meeting of African head of states in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the AUPSC also expressed concerns at the reported skirmishes between the parties, which it said, undermines the truce.
“(..) Any violation of commitments made in this respect should be fully documented by the AU Commission of Inquiry, as part of the efforts to ensure accountability and fight impunity,” partly reads the communiqué.
Talks between South Sudan government and rebels loyal to its former vice-president Riek Machar dragged on for long, before the two parties, under the mediation of regional leaders, inked a deal last Thursday.
Members of the AU Council, however, vowed to fully cooperate with IGAD towards the early operationalization of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) provided for in the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities.
“In this respect, Council welcomes the ongoing IGAD efforts for the establishment and effective functioning of the MVM and AU’s contribution to those efforts,” the communiqué further stated.
The council further urged all the parties to ensure unfettered and secured access by humanitarian agencies to all the people who are in urgent need for assistance, especially women, children and the elderly.
Both government and the rebels have lately accused each other of violating the agreed ceasefire, days after they signed the deal at a colorful event in Addis Ababa.
AUC DEPLORES KILLINGS
The AU commission chairperson had earlier reiterated the call for an immediate cessation of hostilities by South Sudanese parties, expressing support to the mediation team led by IGAD.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in a statement, expressed serious concern about the situation in South Sudan, saying she "deplores the senseless killing of innocent civilians and the humanitarian tragedy unfolding on the ground".
She, however, lauded the AUPSC decision to urgently establish a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations and other abuses committed during the armed conflict in South Sudan and make recommendations on the best ways and means to ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.
As a follow up to this decision, the AU Commission also took steps to develop the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry, select its members and mobilize the support required for the effective discharge of its mandate.
More than 1,000 people, according to the United Nations, have been killed and half a million displaced in the country in the worst-ever outbreak of violence in South Sudan since it broke away from Sudan two years ago.