By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
Ahead of the 27th African Union (AU) Summit taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with several African leaders to discuss the situation in South Sudan.
In a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Algeria, Ramtane Lamamra, the Secretary-General acknowledged the role of the AU High-Level ad hoc Committee on South Sudan, of which Algeria is a member, and reiterated his grave concern regarding the situation in South Sudan.
Mr. Ban informed Mr. Lamamra of the three suggestions he made to the Security Council earlier this week: to implement an arms embargo on the country; impose targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for the latest fighting; and ensure the reinforcement of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The Secretary-General also praised the efforts being deployed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the AU to address the prevailing situation in South Sudan and facilitate the implementation of the peace agreement, according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s office.
The Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister also exchanged views on UN efforts relating to several issues. On Western Sahara, the Secretary-General welcomed the progress being made towards a return to full functionality of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), as mandated by the Security Council.
Regarding Libya, the leaders underlined the importance of the Libya Political Agreement and the need for continued efforts to advance national reconciliation, and shared their concern regarding the presence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Da’esh (ISIL) in parts of the country.
Lastly, the Secretary-General expressed hope that Algeria would ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change before the end of the year.
Also today, Mr. Ban met with Nhial Deng Nhial, Special Envoy of the President of South Sudan, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deng Alor Kuol, discussing the situation in South Sudan as well as ways to restore dialogue.
“The Secretary-General voiced his deep concern and disappointment over the recent fighting in Juba and in other locations, further aggravating an already dire humanitarian situation and compromising the implementation of the agreement for the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan. He expressed outrage at the untold suffering inflicted upon the people of South Sudan,” said a statement released by Mr. Ban’s office.
The Secretary-General urged South Sudan President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar to show “true leadership and to live up to the aspirations of their people to peace and security.”
He also underlined the need for the parties to uphold the cessation of hostilities and to resume dialogue as the only way to sustainably address the crisis in their country, and called on the South Sudanese stakeholders to agree on practical steps to demilitarize Juba.
According to the read-out, Mr. Ban informed the Special Envoy of his recommendations to the Security Council regarding South Sudan, and strongly condemned the impediments to the freedom of movement and attacks against UN staff, assets and premises. He called on South Sudan to provide full security and access to the UN and to its peacekeeping mission.
In addition, the Secretary-General emphasized the gravity of the situation and expressed the hope that the leaders would bear greater responsibility for their people. He asked the Special Envoy to relay his messages to President Kiir.
Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war – which began in late 2013 after a simmering political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar boiled over – conflict and instability has spread to previously unaffected areas in the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal regions of South Sudan.
The Secretary-General is expected to meet with other leaders gathered for the AU Summit, before departing for Kenya, where he will open the 14th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
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