Only a "truly inclusive political process" will bring peace to South Sudan

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In Pathai, a settlement in Jonglei State, South Sudan, persons displaced by conflict await registration for food distribution. Photo: UNICEF/Jacob Zocherman

Only a "truly inclusive political process" can bring peace to war-torn South Sudan, the UN Peacekeeping chief told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix described the humanitarian crisis in the country as a man-made tragedy, and said that "credible, free or fair elections" in South Sudan would not be possible in the current climate.

Matt Wells has more.

Under-Secretary-General Lacroix said the country remained "desperate for peace" with more than half the country needing food aid, and a third displaced by the brutal conflict between government and opposition forces that's raged since 2013.

A 2015 Peace Agreement had not held, and the UN Mission, UNMISS, was continuing to do its utmost to protect civilians, he added.

He said that a Regional Protection Force, or RPF, to bolster the UN peacekeeping mission around the capital Juba was deploying, slowly but surely, but President Salva Kiir's promise to release political prisoners, was not materializing.

Mr Lacroix said he needed to be judged by his deeds, not words.

"Although the President declared a unilateral ceasefire and launch of the National Dialogue on 22 May, it remains to be seen whether these developments will yield any tangible improvement in the security or humanitarian situation on the ground. We cannot lose sight of the fact that neither the RPF nor UNMISS is a panacea to this crisis. Only a truly inclusive political process and the genuine political will of the key protagonists to end the conflict and implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan will bring peace to war-torn South Sudan."

Under the faltering Peace Agreement, elections were due to be held sometime next year, but the Peacekeeping chief said that if the current crisis and conflict persisted, that would simply not be possible.

The force levels and mandate of UNMISS needed to remain unchanged he urged the council, until events on the ground change.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″

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