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UN chief urges South Sudanese rivals to meet as required in peace accord

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan.
UN Photo/Isaac Billy
President Salva Kiir of South Sudan.

UN chief urges South Sudanese rivals to meet as required in peace accord

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar to meet on Monday, as agreed to in the 9 May document that aimed to end the fighting in the world's newest country.

In a telephone call with President Kiir, Mr. Ban expressed “grave concern” about ongoing hostilities and called for an “immediate” end to all military operations, his spokesperson said.

Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May, to agree to end fighting after the 23 January Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities failed to stem what is now a six-month-old conflict.

As part of the May agreement, the two South Sudanese officials agreed to meet on a monthly basis to review progress in the implementation of the accord.

Meanwhile, the fighting, which has already uprooted over one million people, including 75,000-80,000 civilians who have sought safety at UN peacekeeping bases around the country, continues.

Mr. Ban urged the President to meet with Mr. Machar to “reach an agreement on substantive issues, including transitional arrangements,” the spokesperson said.

He also called on President Kiir to extend his full support to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the implementation of its new mandate, as set out by the Security Council at the end of last month.

The new mandate extends the work of UNMISS until 30 November of this year, and gives priority to protecting civilians and to addressing the security, humanitarian and political crisis that has gripped the nation in recent months.

The head of UNMISS, Hilde F. Johnson, announced last week that she will be stepping down from her post in July. No replacement has yet been announced.

Subsequently, Mr. Ban also spoke with Mr. Machar by telephone. He deplored the grave humanitarian situation in the country and reiterated the need for both parties to abide by these agreements and end all military operations immediately.