The Chairperson of the African Union Commission is calling on South Sudan leaders to stop violence and provide security for all citizens. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says both President Salva Kiir and his First Vice President Riek Machar should respect the August 2015 peace agreement.
Dlamini Zuma told the 29th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union on Wednesday, July 13, that the AU is “gravely concerned” about the resurgence of the conflict in South Sudan that has left hundreds dead and thousands displaced.
She says war should stop.
“Hardly two months after the formation of the Government of National Unity, the belligerents seem to back in the trenches, and the people of South Sudan, instead of celebrating five years of independence, once again are barricaded in their homes or must flee like sheep before the wolves. As a continent, we must respect the lives of our people,” she told the AU Summit.
Dlamini Zuma says South Sudanese have suffered enough, adding that it is the sole role of the country’s leaders to ensure citizens’ safety. “Governments and leadership are there to protect the vulnerable, to serve the people – not to be the cause of the people’s suffering. What is happening again in South Sudan is totally unacceptable.”
Adding that the continent cannot stand by and witness the suffering inflicted on the children, women, men and young people of South Sudan. Dlamini Zuma believes this is the time for South Sudan to emerge from the conflict and rebuild itself, not wasting resources on war.
“We count the cost in civilian and peacekeepers lives lost, in homes destroyed when they were rebuilt not too long ago, in our girls abducted, in leadership and opposition that have resources to purchase ‘tanks, helicopter gunships, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades’ which are used against the people – when there are no resources to buy food […] or medicines.”
While addressing journalists in Kigali on Thursday, July 14, Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said that a military intervention in South Sudan hasn’t been ruled out yet.
“About extra efforts in intervention, nothing is off the table for the leaders that will be gathered in Kigali to do everything possible to make sure that the people of South Sudan have protection and to try and get the political process back on track,” Minister Mushikiwabo said.
“Whether it is intervention militarily or political, you can be sure that this is one of the very critical discussions that will take place in Kigali,” he said.
Rwanda is one of the countries contributing to the peacekeeping mission South Sudan. Rwandan soldiers were reportedly attacked and injured when violence flared up in South Sudan. “Our own troops have been under very extreme circumstances in the last few days […], but before we think of peace keepers as Rwanda we want to make sure that the civilian of South Sudan gets the protection it needs,” she said.
President Salva Kiir said he will not allow any extra soldiers in South Sudan, arguing that there are already more than 12,000 soldiers in the country.
Tomorrow’s session will mainly focus on peace and security, with South Sudan taking center stage. The session will be attended by Heads of State, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ambassadors, and the AU Commission. Both South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir are expected to attend.