Juba — The Secretary-General on Tuesday welcomed South Sudan president Salva Kiir's commitment to cessation of hostilities and his readiness to engage opposition leaders in peaceful dialogue.
Ki Moon, in a phone conversation with Kiir, reportedly encouraged the latter to consider early release of the country's political prisoners.
"The Secretary-General reiterated the full support of the United Nations for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediation process and called for the full cooperation of all parties in finding a peaceful solution to the current crisis," the spokesperson for the Secretary General said in a statement.
The UN chief further underscored the need to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on civilians, as both leaders also discussed plans to urgently strengthen the mission in accordance with Security Council resolution 2132 of 24 December.
Meanwhile, the UN mission South Sudan expressed grave concern about mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights law that have occurred in South Sudan during the past 15 days.
According to the mission, extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers occurred in various parts of the country, as evidenced by the discovery of large numbers of bodies in Juba, as well as in Bor and Malakal, the capitals of Jonglei and Upper Nile states respectively.
It reportedly also observed massive displacement and arbitrary detentions of civilians.
"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the atrocities committed against innocent civilians of different communities by elements from both sides during the crisis. There is no excuse for these terrible acts of violence," said Hilde Johnson, the head of its South Sudan mission.
"All perpetrators must be held accountable", she added.
The mission further stressed that the crisis in the country should be viewed as a political struggle, rather than an ethnic conflict, warning elements in the country who might seek to exploit the ongoing violence to pursue their own ethnically driven agendas.
"It is deeply disturbing that this now seems to have happened", it said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
Johnson also welcomed the decision of the African Union's Peace and Security Council at the Heads of State level, to establish a Commission under the continental body to investigate the human rights violations and other abuses committed.
She said recommendations from the commission would ensure accountability, reconciliation and healing among all South Sudanese communities.