By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
Mediators of the East Africa’s bloc, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), on Thursday condemned re-eruption of heavy fighting in Nassir, Upper Nile State, and near Bentiu, Unity states of South Sudan.
In a statement mediators issued later on Thursday, IGAD special envoys urged the two warring parties to immediately cease hostilities.
The latest fighting between government soldiers and the rebel forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar comes one week after the mediation adjourned the peace talks for Christmas and New Year festive season.
“At the start of this New Year, the IGAD Special Envoys urge the warring parties to make the gift of peace to the people of South Sudan, and ensure that the conflict does not continue for one moment longer,” the three envoys said in a statement received by Sudan Tribune.
The IGAD envoys expressed dismay over the two rivals’ failure to demonstrate restraint and urged them to immediately cease hostilities, in line with their repeated pledges to end the over year long conflict.
On November 7, 2014, during the 28 the Extra-Ordinary Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, the two sides committed to immediately and unconditionally end to all hostilities.
“It is the clear expectation and plea of the IGAD Special Envoys, that this commitment is fully respected.”
According to the statement, IGAD cessation of hostilities monitoring teams have been instructed to investigate these latest incidents and determine responsibility for the violations.
The mediators further renewed their call to the IGAD heads of state and government, the African Union, the United Nations, the Troika, the European Union, the People’s Republic of China and the broader international community to join them in pressuring the parties to immediately end hostilities and commit to the ongoing peace process
A week ago the IGAD chief mediator, Seyoum Mesfin expressed concern over reports that the two warring factions were preparing to take further military action on ground.
He urged them to end the war as per their own commitment and pledge.
“War is not a gift that people of South Sudan expect from their leaders during this season,” he said adding “loss of life and grief is not what they expect during this joy and family season” said Mesfin.
He further said the Christmas and New Year season was time the two sides decide war can’t be an option to resolve political differences.
The young east African nation plunged into conflict in December 2013, after political dispute within the ruling SPLM party led to fighting between troops loyal to president Salva Kiir and those allied themselves to hid former vice-president Riek Machar.
The conflict has left over 20,000 people dead and forced nearly two million people to flee their homes