South Sudan leaders told to talk

2014-07-07 18:46
Displaced people who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor, prepare to sleep in the open at night in the town of Awerial, South Sudan. (Ben Curtis, AP)

Displaced people who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor, prepare to sleep in the open at night in the town of Awerial, South Sudan. (Ben Curtis, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - South Sudan's warring leaders must resume stalled peace talks in earnest before the months-long bloody conflict is written off as an international lost cause, a senior AU official warned on Monday.

"They have to realise that the world is watching them, that the world will not wait for them indefinitely," said Olusegun Obasanjo, the head of an African Union team probing atrocities in the war-torn country.

Thousands have been killed and more than 1.5 million people forced to flee as a political row between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar has spiralled into brutal ethnic conflict.

The world's newest nation is facing a worse crisis than during the two decades of war before South Sudan declared independence three years ago, with some 100 000 people crammed into squalid UN camps.

Aid agencies warn the country could plunge into famine in weeks with almost four million people in need of aid if international donors do not make up a shortfall of over a billion dollars.

Peace talks in luxury hotels in Addis Ababa have made little progress and last month the negotiations halted indefinitely, with both sides refusing to attend the discussions.

Former Nigerian president Obasanjo, who is heading up an AU probe to investigate atrocities in South Sudan following reports both sides have committed gross human rights violations, urged reconciliation.

"The alternative to talking is for them to go into violence again, so we must encourage them to keep talking," he said.

The regional mediating bloc, Igad, has given both sides until 11 August to form an interim government, a deadline that looks unlikely to be met after a third ceasefire was recently broken.

Without meaningful talks, "anything can happen, there can be outbreak [of violence] and the outbreak can snowball".

Two mass graves had so far been discovered, he said, with reports of further burial sites in oil-rich Bentiu and Bor, which have been the scenes of heavy fighting between the Dinka people loyal to Kiir and Machar's Nuer tribe.

Obasanjo urged leaders to focus on political reform, arguing that justice is a crucial first step towards ending the conflict.

"The first thing that you have to do to reconcile people is to ensure that theres an element of justice," he said.

Read more on:    igad  |  riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.