South Sudan: Govt Forces Told to Vacate Civilian Buildings

With two weeks remaining before the 100-day deadline for the formation of the South Sudan transitional government, the African Union has appealed to government forces to vacate illegally-occupied civilian premises as per the security arrangements.

This comes as the AU chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, threatened to impose sanctions on individuals standing in the way of peace.

The formation of the transitional government is set to dominate the 33rd Summit in Addis Ababa taking place on February 9-10.

The AU Peace and Security Council demanded that all military and security personnel illegally occupying the 25 civilian buildings immediately vacate these premises without preconditions.

"Such actions (occupations) constitute violations of international law, and continued defiance of this warning will lead to instituting of sanctions on all those responsible,' the Council said in a statement.

The continued occupation of civilian areas is a violation of the cantonment process as all armed groups were expected to assemble at various sites for vetting and retraining before integration of all the armed groups ahead of the formation of the transitional government.

The continued occupation is an impediment to the return of refugees and the internally displaced to their homes.

The issues had arisen last December when the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development Council of Ministers, ordered the South Sudan People's Defence Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) to vacate civilian centres and populated areas.

While the signatories to the September 2018 revitalised agreement are expected to form the transitional government, the issue of the number of states remains in abeyance.

Rebel leader, Dr Riek Machar, who was supposed to travel to Juba on Tuesday for consultation on the outstanding issues cancelled the trip after President Salva Kiir flew out to South Africa for a three-day visit to consult with President Cyril Ramaphosa, "because South Africa is the chair of the AU C5 countries co-ordinating the peace process," said President Kiir's spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny. Other C5 countries are Algeria, Chad, Nigeria and Rwanda.

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