Kerry Urges Swift Deployment of IGAD Protection Force
Together with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Chawahir Mohamed, and Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, Kerry called for a quick deployment of the IGAD Deterrent Force to the volatile youngest state.
“We just had a very positive meeting, laid out a strong agenda which we all agreed on which we’ll talk about later in the day when we have a little more time,” Kerry said.
He added: “But I think it’s clear that everybody is in agreement the killing must stop; that humanitarian access needs to be delivered; most importantly, a legitimate force that has an ability to help make peace needs to get on the ground as rapidly as possible.”
“And we agreed on both the terms and timing and manner and size, and we need to go to work to make sure that happens. I think that’s a quick summary.”
Ethiopian Foreign minister Tedros also concurred with Secretary Kerry saying, “the deployment of the force should be as soon as possible. And I think with that, many of the other interests can be addressed”.
“But there is an agreement now that we have to really be as aggressive as possible in order to have an impact on the ground in South Sudan,” Tedros noted.
“And I would like to use this opportunity, to thank Secretary Kerry, who is here today with us. But since the crisis started, he has been in contact regularly, frequent phone calls and good support, and we hope that support will continue, especially from him and the U.S. Government and we really appreciate the support.”
The call for a swift deployment comes at a time when government and rebel forces continue to clash day and night in the country’s most states.
Despite the signed ceasefire in January this year, warring parties have continued offensives and counterattacks in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states.
It is also a time when warring parties are engaged in civilian massacres as witnessed in Bor Jonglei State, Bentiu, the capital of Unity State and of recent, Maple in Bhar El Ghazal State where hundreds are said to have lost their lives.
There is hope that the IGAD force will help protect civilians from unnecessary massacres.
Peace talks resume
Meanwhile, the third session of Phase II of the South Sudan Peace talks that focus on a political dialogue for National Reconciliation and healing resumed in Addis Ababa with parties meeting face to face today.
The talks were adjourned from April 7, 2014 for consultations.
During the adjournment, the IGAD Special Envoys held a series of consultations with the principals of the warring Parties, H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan and Dr. Riek Machar former Vice President and leader of the SPLM/A- in Opposition, in an effort to fast-track the negotiation process and avert further escalation of the conflict.
During the consultations, the principals shared concern over the recent escalation of the conflict and expressed their renewed commitment to the mediation process.
The Special Envoys also conducted a series of shuttle missions to regional capitals and held consultations with leaders of IGAD countries as well as the African Union, the United Nations and IGAD Partners to mobilise support for the mediation process and the unhindered operations of the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) as well as to expedite the deployment of the regional Protection Force (PF).