Mr Festus Mogae, the chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) has asked South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar to declare a unilateral ceasefire.
The request was made during a meeting between the two in South Africa at the weekend. The two reportedly discussed solutions to the ongoing conflict in the country in the second meeting Mr Mogae has held with Mr Machar since fighting erupted in July 2016 in the capital, Juba.
Mr Machar’s press secretary, Lam Kuei Lam said in a statement that Mr Mogae asked the SPLM-IO leader Mr Machar, to denounce violence and join President Salva Kiir’s dialogue initiative.
Mr Mogae served as President of Botswana from 1998 to 2008.
“On item one, the chairman [Machar] did inform President Mogae that indeed SPLM/SPLA-IO is not a war monger, the SPLM/A-IO is on self-defense,” Mr Lam’s statement partly reads.
“On the second and third items, the chairman called for initiation of a political forum for the parties to engage in the peaceful settlement of the conflict, resuscitate and review the ARCISS [Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan],” he added.
JMEC is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the signed peace deal in South Sudan
According to Mr Lam, Mr Machar, the former South Sudan first vice president said a cessation of hostilities would be negotiated by the parties when the forum is initiated.
Last week, President Kiir promised IGAD leaders that he would announce a unilateral ceasefire. However, the government said mr Kiir’s commitment would ll be first discussed by the Cabinet.
Mr Kiir’s declaration raised hope that such a move would allow the international community to demand the armed opposition to also cease hostilities in order to create the needed security conditions for aid workers to reach civilians in the famine-hit areas in the country.
According to a communiqué by the African Union, President Kiir made the assurance on the margins of the recent IGAD Summit on Somalia in a meeting with, the chairperson for the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Mr Mahamat discussed the security situation in the country and the national dialogue initiative launched by President Kiir as well as the disastrous humanitarian crisis.
“On that occasion, the President of South Sudan assured the AUC Chairperson that he accepted to proclaim unilaterally a ceasefire and grant general amnesty to promote participation in the National Dialogue, which he equally accepted to be inclusive and led by an independent and respective personality,” reads the statement.
President Kiir further reaffirmed his acceptance of the deployment of the Regional Protection Force and stressed the added value that African ownership of the political process could contribute to the national dialogue.
The South Sudanese leader, according to the African Union communiqué, stressed the added value that African ownership of the political process could contribute to the National Dialogue.