As regional leaders gathered in Addis Ababa Tuesday for a summit focussed largely on South Sudan, 14 African elder statesmen penned a letter to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, urging them to end the fighting in their country and build an inclusive peace.
Letter to Salva Kiir, Riek Machar from African Leaders
In the letter, leaders from across Africa - including former heads of state and Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa - say they will no longer stand by and watch as a humanitarian tragedy unfolds in South Sudan.
They chide Mr. Kiir and former vice president Machar for allowing war to wipe out any hopes that South Sudanese had of enjoying peace and prosperity after the country became independent less than three years ago. The authors of the letter demand an immediate end to the violence.
Calling on the two rivals in the conflict to follow in the footsteps of great African leaders before them and work toward inclusive peace in their young nation, the letter ends with a stark warning of what the legacy of Mr. Kiir and Machar will be if they continue down the road of violence.
"The fate of South Sudanese children, who have been affected by unimaginable violations, including killings, forced recruitment, rape and abductions, is in your hands," the leaders warn.
Copies of the letter were sent to Mr. Kiir and Machar, who were due to hold a second round of face-to-face talks in the Ethiopian capital ahead of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit.
The two men met last month in Addis and reaffirmed their commitment to a ceasefire deal signed in January. They have repeatedly violated the ceasefire and a May 9 recommitment to the peace pact.