Juba — African leaders have threatened to take appropriate measures against those perpetuating violence in South Sudan if they do not desist and accept peaceful means as a way to end the conflict.
"The council expresses its intention to take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite violence, including along ethnic lines, continues hostilities undermine the envisaged inclusive dialogue", the African Union's Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) said in a statement on 30 December.
The extraordinary emergency meeting of the AUPSC in Gambia - the current chair of the council - was convened with a view to finding a solution to the current crisis in the African Union's 54th member state.
A senior South Sudanese diplomat at the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the meeting in Banjul hoped to find a way to address the crisis in Africa's youngest nation.
"It was a good meeting in the sense that the council came out with a strong position urging all concerned and the stakeholders to exercise utmost restraint and to desist from actions which will render the current situation unmanageable. It has laid emphasis on the relevant African Union instruments and reiterated its stance for a non-violent settlement of all political differences through dialogue and reconciliation; this was what the council said later after concluding the meeting in a statement extended to us", he said.
East African body, IGAD - the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development - is mediating talks between the government and the groups that have rebelled against the government led by former Vice President Riek Machar.
President Salva Kiir accused Machar and others of attempting to stage a coup on 15 December. This has been denied but since then Machar has declared himself the leader of factions from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) who have defected over the last two weeks in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states.
Machar has demanded that political prisoners be released before peace talks can begin. So far the government has said it will release eight of 11 senior members of the ruling SPLM it has detained for the last two weeks.
Over 180,000 people have been displaced and at least 1,000 people killed according to the United Nations.