AU taskforce renews bid for direct Kiir, Machar talks

Wednesday July 10 2019

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (right) and rebel leader Riek Machar in Uganda for peace talks on July 7, 2018. PHOTO | AFP

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (right) and arch-rival Riek Machar shake hands in front of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni during peace talks at State House Entebbe, Uganda on July 7, 2018. An AU taskforce wants the two protagonists "to provide leadership and cohesion" through direct talks ahead of the November 2019 formation of an interim government; a key step in the implementation of the September 2018 Revitalised Peace Agreement. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PETER MUNAITA
By PETER MUNAITA
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An Africa Union taskforce on restoring peace in South Sudan says broad political engagement with President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar is urgently needed to kick-start direct talks between the two leaders which is crucial in implementation of the revitalised agreement.

With four months to go to November 14 when a new interim government is supposed to be formed the taskforce known as C5 says the face to face talks would provide the required leadership, cohesion, inspire public confidence and facilitate reconciliation at all levels of the nation.

"There is need to generate further impetus on the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement," the AU high level Ad Hoc Committee for South Sudan said in a communique on July 9.

The taskforce is chaired by South Africa and comprises Algeria, Chad, Nigeria and Rwanda.

During its meeting on the sidelines of the AU extraordinary summit in Niamey, Niger on July 6 the C5 group said the formation of the transition government should not be postponed again despite identifying a number of key tasks had not been accomplished.

"In order to ensure that the interim government is established without any further delay, the Committee stated that this extension should be final," the C5 said, roping in the AU and IGAD to steer the political engagement.

From briefings, the committee established that internal boundaries to establish the number of states in the country, permanent security arrangements and mobilization of the required funding for implementation of the peace agreement remained as sticking points to implementing the peace accord.

"Africa needs to provide the necessary guidance and accompaniment to ensure that this internal boundary making process leads, in the most peaceful manner, to the expected outcome," it said.

President Kiir's government has committed $100 million for operationalisation of the security arrangements for which the committee appealed for timely disbursement. It said the international community should supplement Juba's effort.

"AU member states should provide support to the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement especially technical support for the cantonment with a view to creating a unified national army to serve the interest of all the South Sudanese," the committee said.

The security sector reforms include disarmament of rebel groups, demobilisation and reintegration of troops into society, governance and rule of law.

The committee said C5, AU and IGAD leaders should visit South Sudan before November to signify "the collective engagement and support of Africa to assist the peace process towards the finality of reaching a durable peace."

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