The chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Festus Mogae has asked South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar to declare a unilateral ceasefire in a bid to have peace in Africa’s youngest nation.
JMEC is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the signed peace deal in South Sudan.
The request was made during a meeting in South Africa late on Sunday evening. In this second meeting Mogae has held with Machar since fighting erupted in July 2016 in the capital Juba the two reportedly discussed solutions to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
Mogae served as president of Botswana from 1998 to 2008. A statement from Machar said that Mogae asked him to denounce violence and join President Salva Kiir’s dialogue initiative. Machar stated that his party "is not a war monger, the SPLM/A-IO is on self-defense.”
The former first vice-president of South Sudan called for "initiation of a political forum for the parties to engage in the peaceful settlement of the conflict, resuscitate and review the Arciss [Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan]”.
Last week, President Kiir promised Igad leaders that he would announce a unilateral ceasefire. However, the government said Kiir’s commitment would be first discussed by the Cabinet.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) is an eight-country trade bloc in East Africa. It includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley, and the African Great Lakes.
President Kiir’s declaration raised hope that such a move would allow the international community to demand the armed opposition to also cease hostilities in order to create the needed security conditions for aid workers to reach civilians in the famine-hit areas in the country.
According to a communiqué by the African Union, Kiir made the assurance on the margins of the recent Igad summit on Somalia in a meeting with new African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Mahamat discussed the security situation in the country and the national dialogue initiative launched by President Kiir as well as the disastrous humanitarian crisis.
Kiir “assured the AUC chairperson that he accepted to proclaim a ceasefire unilaterally and grant general amnesty to promote participation in the national dialogue”, reads the statement. Kiir reaffirmed his acceptance of the deployment of the Regional Protection Force and stressed that African ownership of the political process could contribute to the national dialogue.