South Sudan’s foreign minister says President Salva Kiir will seek Washington’s assistance in ending over seven months of conflict at the U.S. - Africa summit scheduled to begin this week.
On Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will continue to mediate peace negotiations between the government and rebels.
Barnaba Marial Benjamin said Mr. Kiir will exchange ideas with other African heads of state at the summit to find ways of ending the conflict. He said U.S. special envoy ambassador Donald Booth has been instrumental in helping the country resolve the conflict.
“The United States through President Obama has been greatly contributing to helping the Republic of South Sudan resolve the present rebellion,” said Marial.
He said Kiir will also hold talks with fellow leaders as well as top officials of the African Union to find ways of ending conflicts – and terrorism -- on the continent.
“He will be touching base with the rest of his colleagues who have also problems in their countries. There are issues related to security throughout the continent…these are serious issues [on which] they need to share ideas and experiences so that peace is on the top of the agenda,” said Marial.
The United States government can contribute in supportingcountries fighting terrorism,” said Marial. “African heads of state will put their heads together to try to resolve these issues and get assistance from the US government. The US [and Africa should be] on the same wavelength [in terms of how] they look at African problems, [which does not include] regime change.”
He said he’s hopeful the US can help cement Africa’s democratic processes and bring peace and development. Critics say both South Sudan’s government and the rebels lack the political will to resolve the conflict following counter accusations that each side has been undermining previous cessation of hostilities agreements.
Marial disagreed saying the rebels are to blame for breaching a recent ceasefire agreement signed between President Kiir and former vice president and rebel leader Riek Machar.
“Our administration is very clear in its commitment to resolving this issue peacefully and bringing peace to the people of the South Sudan. On Heroes Day, President Salva Kiir’s statement to that nation was that he had just had discussions with the government’s peace delegation in Addis and the message to them was that they should come back with peace,” said Marial.
“So it indicates the seriousness of the government through the IGAD peace process and the commitment of the government’s side to resolving this issue. We are going to discuss all the issues laid down in the IGAD agenda, which stresses political reform, constitutional reforms, security sector reform, [and] an all-inclusive government of national unity,” said Marial.