JUBA — Japan is releasing $1.5 million in aid to South Sudan to try to advance the young country's peace process, Japanese ambassador to Juba Takeshi Akamatsu told VOA.
The monies come with few strings attached, but because they are from Japan's Official Development Assistance fund, they cannot be used for military activities, Akamatsu said Friday when he announced the offer.
"The money is going to be supplied for civilian activities" of two organizations -- the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union -- which are playing key roles in restoring peace in South Sudan, Akamatsu said.
Approximately $1 million will go to IGAD, which is brokering peace talks in Addis Ababa between the warring sides in the three-month-old conflict in South Sudan, Akamatsu told VOA.
"This will be mostly targeted for allowances for civilian members of the monitoring and verification mechanism" which was agreed to by pro- and anti-government negotiators when they signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January, the ambassador said.
The remainder will go to the African Union's High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which is facilitating negotiations relating to South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in July 2011, including disputes over oil, security, citizenship, assets and the two countries' common border.
"IGAD and the AU are playing a major part in bringing about peace in South Sudan," Akamatsu said.
"We all know the negotiating teams are ready to restart negotiations from the 20th March in Addis and we want to facilitate these activities," the ambassador said.
"We want to have both the South Sudanese government and rebel leaders sit together and come to a peaceful resolution, and stop their violence against each other, and thus help peace prevail over South Sudan and the South Sudanese people," he said.
Akamatsu said Japan joins the entire international community in hoping that "the South Sudanese people as well as the government will revert back to its old tracks of development and peace in this country."
Around a month into the conflict, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced during a visit to Addis Ababa that Tokyo was prepared to provide some $25 million in response to "the deteriorating situation in South Sudan."