United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says it is now the responsibility of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar to "accelerate the momentum for peace" in their country.
Ban addressed the U.N. Security Council on Monday, days after the leaders signed a peace agreement that calls for an end to months of fighting and a new transitional government. However, the U.N. chief expressed concerns about reports of breaches in the ceasefire, as well as the humanitarian situation in South Sudan.
"Since the crisis began five months ago, many thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, atrocities have been committed by both sides, more than a million people have been displaced, and nearly five million more need humanitarian assistance. If the conflict continues, half of South Sudan's 12 million people will either be displaced internally, refugees abroad, starving or dead by the year's end," said Ban.
Both sides have accused the other of breaking the truce since Friday's peace agreement. Machar said Monday the clashes should not stop the political negotiations that have been held in neighboring Ethiopia.
"There is difficulty of monitoring and verification of who is doing this. Violations don't necessarily have to stop the negotiations in Addis," said Machar.
Also Monday, the government said it will delay presidential elections planned for 2015 in order to tackle the issue of reconciliation among its people.
Kiir said the interim government will remain in power until a vote is held in 2017 or 2018.
Machar said if Kiir were committed to a comprehensive peace agreement, then he would organize elections for next year. The conflict pits Kiir's Dinka people against the Nuer tribe of his former deputy Machar.