By Seleshi Tessema and Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has pledged “absolute” support of his office for the revitalization of the South Sudan peace process.
Guterres made the pledge during a meeting of the leaders of the East Africa security bloc -- Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) -- on Saturday, a day before the 30th Assembly of African Heads of State and Government.
The IGAD launched a process to revive the South Sudanese peace process in December last year after the warring parties failed to implement the August 2015 peace accord.
The revitalization effort ended with the warring parties leaving Addis Ababa after they had signed a cessation of hostilities agreement, which they broke within 48 hours of enforcement. There have been blames and counter blames ever since as to who first violated cease-fire.
“I am in full agreement that the implementation of the very important achievements you reached …might require tougher measures,” Guterres said.
He said, "I have never seen a political elite with so little interest in their people," referring to the leadership of South Sudan on both sides of the political divide.
South Sudan is top in the agenda of the Leaders’ Summit that will kick off on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
“I will be ready in the United Nations in addressing the United Nations Security Council to support any decision that you take in order to make sure that accountability with relation to the violation of cease-fire is effectively addressed,” he said.
Hirut Zemene, Ethiopia’s state minister for foreign affairs, told reporters: “The AU, IGAD and the UN agreed to exert more pressure on the warring parties to implement the peace accord.”
“The parties condemned the latest violation of cease-fire and they are determined to bring violators from any side to bear responsibility for their actions.”
In attendance at the meeting were African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU peace and security commissioner Smail Chergui, AU special envoy to Sudan Alpha Oumar Konare and IGAD executive secretary Maalim Mahboub Maalim.