High-powered UN, AU and IGAD delegation pledge full and united support for South Sudan peace deal

We are totally united in support of the revitalized peace agreement and in support of South Sudan and its people.

That was the message from a high-powered delegation from the United Nations, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development which is making a special journey to the war-ravaged country to promote peace and end the immense human suffering caused by years of conflict.

The delegation, which met with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and other ministers shortly after touching down in Juba, said it was encouraged by the significant improvement in the security situation since the peace deal was signed last September.

We say let's build on this improvement, said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. We are ready to support you. We want to continue to support what has already been achieved. We believe that every step taken towards full implementation of the peace agreement is beneficial to the people of South Sudan.

The delegations' visit follows the endorsement by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers of the unanimous decision by parties to the peace agreement to extend the pre-transitional period for a further six months before forming a Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix noted that there were a number of outstanding matters, including the formation of a unified security force and the issue of boundaries and states. However, he was confident that further efforts would be made in the next six months to resolve these issues.

In response, Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial said that the government would have preferred a 12-month extension to the pre-transitional period because of the challenges posed by the rainy season. However, the government would do everything in its power, with the support of the AU, UN and IGAD, to complete all the necessary tasks as soon as possible.

We remain fairly optimistic that, not only will we be able to accomplish what we need to do within the six months of the pre-transitional period, but hopefully all those who are still holding out will embrace the peace process and become part of it as we go on, said Nhial Deng Nhial.

For the peace agreement to be fully implemented, he said there needed to be sustained engagement between parties over the next six months.

It will be important for the leaders of all the signatories and other stakeholders to be able to meet face-to-face from time to time to sustain the momentum and continue ironing out whatever issues need to be ironed out before we start the transitional period proper.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner, Smail Chergui, described the meeting with the government as encouraging.

It makes us believe that South Sudan is really on the route of peace and reconciliation and justice, he said.

His words were echoed by the IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, Ismail Wais, who acknowledged the progress made by the parties and urged them to continue their efforts for the sake of their people.

We have to capitalise on the energy and engagement shown by the political parties of South Sudan, he said. I'm very confident that together we will really master peace in South Sudan.

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan

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