East African nations threatened to impose sanctions on South Sudan’s warring sides unless they resolve their differences peacefully and end “flagrant violations” of three agreements to end hostilities.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a seven nation bloc, accused South Sudan’s government and rebel forces of failing to honor accords signed on Jan. 23, May 6 and May 9 and said they should “immediately” implement them. IGAD also urged both parties to allow humanitarian workers unhindered access to areas of the country affected by conflict.
Member states will take “further collective action to pressure any party who fails to honor its commitments,” the bloc said in an e-mailed statement today after a summit of regional leaders in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. That action may include the “imposition of punitive measures.”
Conflict erupted in the oil-producing country on Dec. 15 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, a charge Machar denies. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting and more than a million have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. Both government and rebel forces have reported clashes even after Kiir and Machar agreed to cease hostilities.
Kiir and Machar yesterday agreed to complete talks on the formation of a transitional government of national unity within 60 days, according to the IGAD statement.
The bloc also welcomed the UN Security Council’s resolution last month authorizing peacekeepers in South Sudan to protect civilians. The UN force, which is set to increase to 12,500 personnel, will also monitor human rights and deliver humanitarian assistance.
The UN should “take all necessary necessary steps to coordinate the expeditious deployment of the protection force,” IGAD said.
The conflict in South Sudan has shut down about a third of its oil production, reducing output to about 160,000 barrels per day. The country’s crude is mainly pumped by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. The companies evacuated some staff from the country due to the conflict.
IGAD’s members include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.