ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – East African nations have told South Sudan’s government and rebels to immediately halt their nearly 11-month-old civil war or else face sanctions and even a regional intervention.
The warning was issued in the early hours of Saturday by the regional bloc IGAD after the latest direct talks between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar failed to result in a comprehensive peace deal.
IGAD said both sides had pledged to an “unconditional, complete and immediate end to all hostilities” after two days of negotiations in Addis Ababa, and has given the pair just 15 days to finalise a transitional power-sharing accord.
Kiir and Machar signed a ceasefire at the start of the year and several subsequent deals to renew it, but the truces have been short lived. IGAD said yet another violation would have severe consequences.
“Any violation of the cessation of the hostilities by any party will invite… collective action by the IGAD region,” a statement said, listing asset freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo as possible sanctions.
“The IGAD region shall, without further reference to the warring parties, take the necessary measures to directly intervene in South Sudan to protect life and restore peace,” the statement added.
War broke out in December last year, when Kiir accused his sacked deputy Machar of trying to stage a coup, with the violence broadening into an ethnic conflict and now including more than 20 different armed groups.
The UN Security Council also warned during the week of possible sanctions over the fighting.
The cival war has left tens of thousands dead, forced almost two million from their homes and pushed the country to the brink of famine has been marked by widespread atrocities by both sides.