12 July 2016

African Union Concerned By Fresh Violence in South Sudan

Photo: Xinhua/The East African
(file photo).

The African Union is looking into ways to address the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, Smail Chergui, AU's commissioner for peace and security has said.

Chergui, who was speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the ongoing 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, said they were awaiting outcomes from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting underway in Nairobi for an option on how best to respond to the crisis.

South Sudan slipped back into conflict last week as soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and first vice-president Riek Machar exchanged gunfire in the capital Juba, a repeat of the 2013 fallout.

Chergui said AU was concerned by the recent events and was keen to intervene.

"We want to see how we can enhance our presence and engagement to help address the South Sudan issue after the IGAD meeting," he said.

Chergui said at the Kigali summit, there would be discussions on how African countries and AU can finance timely peacekeeping interventions in war-torn member states before loss of lfie.

The ongoing conflict, which has so far claimed over 200 lives, is said to have been caused by a 'disagreement' between pro-Kiir and Machar forces.

Meanwhile, speaking to The New Times, James Pitia Morgan, the South Sudanese permanent representative to the AU, described the situation as a "minor incident" that the African Union was currently looking into.

Pitia, who is in the country for the AU summit, did not make any objections to intervention by either the African Union or the East African Community.

With the help of the two bodies, he said, they hope to gain lasting stability and find amicable ways to address differences.

"The African Union wants to ensure that guns across the continent are silent by 2020," he said.

South Sudan was recently admitted into the East African Community upon which it promised not to disrupt regional progress and development.

Pitia said Rwandans working and living in South Sudan were safe and that they were aiming at reopening the airspace.

RwandAir suspended flights to Juba on Sunday in the wake of the renewed fighting.

Speaking to CNBC Africa, yesterday, Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo said regional leaders were concerned over the escalating situation and would discuss the matter at length in Kigali later this week.

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