, NAIROBI, Dec 31 – The African Union has said it will impose “targeted sanctions” over violence in war-torn South Sudan, where two weeks of fighting is feared to have left thousands dead.
The pan-Africa bloc’s Peace and Security Council said in a statement it would “take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite people to violence, including along ethnic lines”.
The warning comes as rebels battled government troops in a bid to retake the flashpoint town of Bor, dashing hopes a looming ceasefire deadline in the war-torn nation would be heeded.
The AU, meeting in Banjul in The Gambia on Monday, expressed “Africa’s dismay and disappointment that the continent’s newest nation should descend so quickly into civil strife, with the potential of rapidly deteriorating into ethnic clashes and a full-fledged civil war”.
South Sudan plunged into chaos on December 15 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of mounting a coup, sparking deadly violence believed to have left thousands dead.
Regional leaders at the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have demanded Machar hold face-to-face talks with Kiir by Tuesday, but there seems to be little chance of the deadline being met.
The AU called on all sides to “immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities”, and said it would work with IGAD to prepare sanctions.