South Sudan leaders to meet for talks, IGAD to deploy 14,000 troops

By ANA, SABC.

Egyptians soldiers in Sinai desert (photo:Ellen Bierhorst)

Egyptians soldiers in Sinai desert (photo:Ellen Bierhorst)

July 19, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar have agreed to meet and deliberate on the way forward to restore peace following the armed conflict that broke out in recent days, an official said.

According to Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) chairman Festus Mogae, who met Kiir and spoke to Machar over the phone, the two leaders have agreed to talks to prevent a new bout of bloodletting that would shatter South Sudan.

“The president gave us his version of what led to this regrettable confrontation while the vice president on his part also expressed a willingness to meet with the president, provided his security was assured,” Mogae said.

The two South Sudan leaders had to ensure strict adherence by their respective forces to the cessation of hostilities and ceasefire and start full implementation of the agreement and transitional security arrangement provisions, he said.

The renewed fighting erupted last week when troops loyal to Kiir stopped and demanded to search the vehicles of Machar’s loyalists. The stand-off led to clashes, with gunfire between the vice president’s bodyguards and the presidential guard while the two were holding talks at the presidential State House to defuse tensions. However, it is still not clear who had prompted the exchange of fire.

The violence threatens to reignite the two-year conflict between the forces of Kiir and troops loyal to Machar that came to an end in April when Machar returned to Juba to take up his old post and a role in the unity administration.

African heads of state and governments will meet on Monday to make a final decision on matters deliberated on earlier by ministers at the ongoing African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Ethiopian government, which chairs the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – an eight nation African trade bloc – said it would increase the number of troops in South Sudan to restore calm and security.

The 14,000 troops from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Kenya would double the current 12,000-strong United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) forces.

“Since we have been heavily involved in the peace process in South Sudan, whether it is through strengthening troops on the ground or any other means available, we will be more than willing to take up our part of the responsibility in restoring peace in South Sudan,” Ethiopian communications affairs minister Getachew Reda said.

A summit would be held in Juba, Nairobi, or Addis Abeba to further discuss the situation, he said, adding that “IGAD has called on both sides for the ceasefire to hold but has also called upon troop contributing countries to strengthen an international brigade”.

No timeline has been given for the summit or troop deployments yet.

Mogae also endorsed the deployment of an international protection force to guarantee safety and security in Juba.

However, Kiir has said he no longer wants any foreign military intervention in the current political crisis, as the UNMISS in South Sudan has many foreign troops.

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