Ahead of the implementation of South Sudan’s peace treaty, the African Union (AU) taskforce assigned to the country has called for an urgent comprehensive dialogue with the warring parties – President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar.

According to the AU task force, known as C5, political engagement is urgently needed to commence direct talks between the two leaders which is crucial in the implementation of the restored agreement. 

Charged with the responsibility of restoring peace in Juba, the group says the face to face talks would provide the required leadership, cohesion, inspire public confidence and facilitate reconciliation at all levels. It is even more significant considering a new interim government is expected to be formed in four months time.

“There is (a) need to generate further impetus on the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement,” the AU high-level Ad Hoc Committee for South Sudan said in a communique.

Although several key tasks are yet to be accomplished before the agreement is implemented, the group advised against another postponement of the formation of the transition government during its meeting at the recent AU summit in Niger.

“In order to ensure that the interim government is established without any further delay, the Committee stated that this extension should be final,” the C5 said, involving the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to control the political engagement.

Some of the elements needed to implement the peace accord include internal boundaries to establish the number of states in the country, permanent security arrangements and mobilization of the required funding for implementation of the peace agreement. The group added that Africa needs to “provide the necessary guidance and accompaniment to ensure that this internal boundary-making process leads, in the most peaceful manner, to the expected outcome.”

Meannwhile, the committee called on the international community to complement South Sudan’s effort. President Kiir’s government has committed $100 million to operate the security arrangements for which the committee appealed for timely disbursement. The security sector reforms include disarmament of rebel groups, demobilization and reintegration of troops into society, governance and rule of law.

“AU member states should provide support to the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement especially technical support for the cantonment with a view to creating a unified national army to serve the interest of all the South Sudanese,” the committee suggested.

The C5, AU and IGAD leaders are expected to visit South Sudan before November to signify “the collective engagement and support of Africa to assist the peace process towards the finality of reaching a durable peace.” The task force is chaired by South Africa and comprises Algeria, Chad, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

The ongoing South Sudanese civil war is between forces of the government and the opposition. In December 2013, President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar and ten others of attempting a coup d’état. Machar denied trying to start a coup and fled to lead the opposition.

Several attempts have been made to restore peace in the country and late last year, a ceasefire deal was signed with an agreement to form a new government, among other conditions. However, the United Nations on Wednesday said that conflict had intensified in a region of South Sudan since the peace deal was signed, with hundreds of civilians raped or murdered by warring factions.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said civilians had been “deliberately and brutally targeted” in Central Equatoria since the agreement was inked in September. At least 104 people had been killed in attacks on villages in the southern region.

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