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AU, IGAD told to stop issuing empty threats

John Prendergast, a co-founder of The Sentry

The ENOUGH Project says the IGAD and the African Union have encouraged peace spoilers in South Sudan by always issuing empty threats.

On Thursday, the IGAD Council of Ministers said it was dismayed at the continued violations of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement.

It deplored what it calls serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws over reports of killing of civilians, infliction of serious mental and physical injuries on people, rape, sexual violence and looting in areas across the country.

In a statement, IGAD said the TGoNU and opposition forces under Dr. Riek Machar seem to ignore not only the letter but also the spirit of the ceasefire agreement.

The regional body demanded that the parties undertake their own investigations and submit to CTSAMM a full report, including the names of those officers responsible for such violations.

It also demanded the parties to make it known to all that it will take appropriate actions in the case of non-compliance.

IGAD Council of Ministers said it is fully committed to taking appropriate action against those violating the Cessation of Hostilities agreement.

But the US-based advocacy group, ENOUGH Project, said this is yet another threat that ends without action.

“The African Union and IGAD have separately issued a total of twenty statements that threaten action against violators of the various truces in effect the last four years of the civil war,” said John Prendergast, the Co-founder of the group.

“However, neither organization has imposed one solitary consequence on any spoiler, which has dramatically diminished the leverage wielded by the African-led peace process.”

He said there are several reports of individuals in South Sudan who are actively undermining the peace process, and the two bodies have failed to hold them accountable.

Mr. Prendergast also said such statements by the AU and IGAD have emboldened violators to escalate armed conflicts and jeopardize the prospects of peace.

He believes the inability of the key regional bodies to back up their threats with actions has dramatically diminished the leverage wielded by the African-led peace process.

The ENOUGH Project urged the African Union to immediately impose consequences in the form of asset freezes, travel bans, anti-money laundering investigations, an arms embargo, and other measures that will demonstrate Africa’s seriousness about peace on the continent’s newest nation.

It said such a move would provide essential leverage to the High Level Revitalization Forum and give it a chance to press the warring parties for compromises, and end the frequent violations of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement.

Earlier, civil society groups also challenged the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom to stop issuing statements and impose real consequences on peace violators.

They said the TROIKA and the region has been threatening actions but none of these is actualized.