Africa UN’s Guterres: Seek peace before South Sudan sanctions

UN’s Guterres: Seek peace before South Sudan sanctions

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Antonio Guterres

The UN’s chief said on Monday the international community should exhaust all possible avenue to peace in South Sudan before imposing any major sanctions.

Antonio Guterres’ remarks came in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday in a joint press conference with African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat following the Second Annual Conference of the UN and Africa, a new partnership founded in April 2017 in New York.

The partnership between the international and continental bodies began with cooperation in peace and security, and this January it was extended to include development.

“It is a horrific conflict and needs to stop,” Guterres said, mentioning a recently held Khartoum meeting between South Sudan’s warring parties.

“The objective now must be to make peace prevail,” he said.

But for Mahamat, the situation is very critical, especially on the humanitarian front.

“The humanitarian situation has gone beyond what is acceptable,” Mahamat said, urging the warring factions to honor a cease-fire and deal to open a humanitarian corridor.

The young country plunged into crisis in late 2013 after troops loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with defectors led by Riek Machar, Kiir’s onetime vice-president.

A peace deal signed in 2015 briefly halted the conflict. But the peace was soon shattered by renewed fighting that erupted in mid-2016 amid mutual recriminations.

According to the UN, 1.74 million South Sudanese have been internally displaced by the conflict, while 2.47 million have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Ethiopia-Eritrea rapprochement

Both Guterres and Mahamat lauded Ethiopia and Eritrea for the resumption of diplomatic and economic rapprochement.

Yesterday Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a two-day historic visit to Asmara, where Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to resume diplomatic relations, open air and telecom services, and for Ethiopia begin use of the port of Assab at cheap rates.

“We see a ray of hope and we appreciate the courage of the Ethiopian prime minister,” Guterres said.

Asked by Anadolu Agency if the sanctions the UN Security Council slapped on Eritrea will be lifted, Guterrres said that Eritrea would need to show the reasons that led to the sanctions were obsolete.

Later Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met with Guterres and asked him to consider lifting UN sanctions from Eritrea.

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