Dialogue the only way to peace, says AU Peace and Security Council

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NicholasHaysom1The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has said that the situation in South Sudan has serious implications for regional peace and stability, and said the only way to resolve the conflict is through political dialogue. The Council said this in a communiqué issued soon after holding a meeting in New York.
The Council urged the parties to the agreement signed last year to foster mutual trust, uphold the interest of the country and its people, and to expeditiously implement the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The communiqué comes at a time when the peace process in South Sudan is tottering on the brink of collapse, with one of the signatories to the agreement, Dr. Riek Machar, being out of government and out of the country. In July, skirmishes broke out in Juba between Dr. Machar’s soldiers and president Kiir's soldiers, forcing Dr. Machar to flee from Juba and eventually go to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and then Sudan, where he is still holed up.
President Kiir appointed a member of Dr. Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO), Taban Deng Gai, to replace Dr. Machar as the new first Vice President. Dr. Machar and his allies have vowed to continue fighting against the government of Kiir in order to bring change to the country.
The Council has asked the AU Commission to finalize consultations with The Government of National Unity (TGoNU) to enable it undertake a planned field mission to South Sudan, as soon as possible. This follows an earlier visit to the country by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The Council urged regional and international bodies to support the implementation of the peace agreement and to encourage all efforts to ensure peace in South Sudan. It underscored the importance of addressing the economic and developmental dimensions of the conflict.
While underscoring the importance of promoting reconciliation, healing and national unity to ensure sustainable peace, the Council stressed that all those who committed atrocities should be held accountable in order to end and prevent the culture of impunity.
The Council said it supports the deployment of a Regional Protection Force (RPF), pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 2304 (2016). This, it said, should be done in consultation with TGoNU.
At the same time, the recently appointed Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, has said that regional bodies need to play a more active role in the South Sudan conflict.
“There’s a broader task… which is the need to have the region take real responsibility for creating stability and prosperity in the region,” he said this in New York in a parallel event at the UN General Assembly.
He said that besides the state building task, with which most people have viewed South Sudan, there is a much more important nation-building responsibility.
“This is a country where the sub-national identities overwhelm a sense of national identity, of a common destiny shared by all the people in South Sudan,” he said. “I think if you ask them: Who are you? A South Sudan citizen would define himself by ethnic or tribal identity rather than his national identity.”

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