S Sudan peace deal monitors urge action

2015-11-26 19:38
South Sudan soldiers. (File, AFP)

South Sudan soldiers. (File, AFP)

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Juba - Ceasefire monitors in South Sudan urged warring forces on Thursday to stop fighting amid growing international fears a key peace deal is close to collapse.

Fighting in the nearly two-year long war rages despite an August agreement, said Festus Mogae, who heads the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission to ensure the peace deal is implemented.

"The agreement offers the way forward for a peaceful South Sudan...I urge the parties to accelerate the implementation process," the former president of Botswana told reporters and said he was deeply concerned at "continued fighting" in northern Unity state.

The United States, Britain and Norway, key backers of the peace process, have warned the deal could collapse if the rivals continue to miss deadlines.

Ethnic lines

The civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week warned that the broken ceasefire and failure to meet deadlines cast doubt on the "commitment to the peace process."

Ban said "grave violations" against children continue - including killing, rape, maiming and child soldier recruitment - while "sexual violence remains a key feature" of the war.

The conflict has triggered a humanitarian crisis with 2.3 million people forced from their homes and 4.6 million in need of emergency food. Tens of thousands have died and the economy is in ruins.

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