October 6, 2016 (JUBA) – Countries that mediated South Sudanese August 2015 peace agreement have condemned calls by the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) to renew conflict, urging that “there is no military solution.”
In a joint statement by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Troika of South Sudan [United States, UK and Norway and the European Union – describing themselves as “Partners of JMEC [Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission]” – the body overseeing implementation of the peace agreement demanded an inclusive representation in the government.
Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan also signed the statement sent to journalists by the U.S Embassy in Juba on Thursday.
The mediators and guarantors to the shaky peace accord “condemn calls by opposition leaders for a renewal of armed conflict.”
“Further fighting will not solve South Sudan’s pressing political and economic challenges. It will only increase the suffering of South Sudan’s people, worsen a grave humanitarian crisis, and further inflame ethnic tensions,” partly reads the statement.
Fighting resumed between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former First Vice President, Riek Machar in July, forcing the latter out of a peace established transitional government of national unity.
Machar has since been replaced by his former chief peace negotiator, Taban Deng Gai – a move Machar supporters rejected.
In September, the SPLM-IO leadership held a meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, where Machar is on treatment and declared to revive the peace agreement by all means – including armed resistance.
The international community, which has been feeding millions of South Sudanese displaced by the conflict – internally and to neighboring countries, insisted that the peace agreement should be implemented and war be shunned.
“Our governments have repeatedly made clear our shared conviction that there can be no military solution to South Sudan’s problems. Resolving South Sudan’s conflicts requires genuine and inclusive dialogue representing the viewpoints of all South Sudanese people,” the statement added.
The IGAD-Plus, as peace guarantors for South Sudan are known, said they “hold the government of President Kiir and armed opposition groups “responsible for renewed hostilities since July’s clashes in Juba.”
They also condemned “heavy fighting” in various parts of the country in recent weeks including in Yei in southwest of the country, Wau in the northwest, Bentiu in the north and Nassir in the east.
They also called for inclusive government of national unity and dialogue to settle political differences.
“In line with the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, we call on the government and armed opposition groups to immediately adhere to the permanent ceasefire,” the statement said.
Fighting resumed in the country when clashes between rival forces occurred at the presidential palace in Juba, forcing Machar and his small number of troops to flee from the capital.