A peace agreement signed in August by South Sudan’s warring sides is at “a critical juncture,” the UN peacekeeping chief says.
The deal has failed to bridge deep divisions and check infighting between supporters of President Salva Kiir and defectors led by former vice president Riek Machar.
The implementation of the deal “is progressing slowly and with serious difficulties,” as both sides repeatedly violate the accord and continue to fight, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the Security Council.
Tens of thousands of people have died and over 2.3 million more are displaced by war in the country since its break from Sudan.
Deep rifts among communities and the “high levels of brutality” characterize the current political crisis which could lead to a pattern of revenge killings and increased inter-communal violence, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has warned.
The United Nations blames the violence and the subsequent threat of famine with 4.6 million people in need of emergency food aid on the young country’s feuding leaders.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council urged the two sides to form a transitional government “which is now overdue, without delay.”
Ladsous called on the council and key international players “to invest politically in supporting the take-off of the transition.”
Nearly 13,000 UN troops and police operate in South Sudan. According to Ladsous, an extra 1,100 are required to provide security, but that will not be enough.
“No amount of troops or police can replace the political will required of the leaders of South Sudan to bring an end to their conflict,” he said.
South Sudan plunged into chaos in December 2013, when fighting erupted around Juba between troops loyal to President Kiir and defectors led by Machar.