26-03-2018, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia): The 61st Extraordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers with focus on South Sudan was held this morning under the leadership of State Minister H.E. Mrs Hirut Zemene of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
The opening session was facilitated by IGAD Executive Secretary, H.E. Amb (Eng) Mahboub Maalim, who took the opportunity to recall that there was a long way to go for the lasting implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) Agreement between the parties to the conflict in South Sudan and for the humanitarian relief of the affected populations. Amb Maalim successively called on the representatives from the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism (JMEC), IGAD South Sudan Office, the United Nations, the IGAD Partners Forum, the European Union, the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the USA), China, South Sudan, the African Union, and the States Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Chair of the Meeting to the podium to deliver their respective statements on the crisis in South Sudan.
IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, H.E. Ambassador Ismael Wais, gave a brief overview of the various efforts in bringing peace to South Sudan since the 12th June 2017 IGAD Heads of State and Government of Addis Ababa which “took a historic step to revitalize the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS)” by, among other things, tasking the IGAD Council of Ministers with undertaking the High Level Revitalisation Forum (HLRF).The HLRF will re-convene to continue with Phase II towards the end April 2018.
Amb Wais called upon the “Council to intensify its engagement with the Parties, including through shuttle diplomacy, aiming to persuade the South Sudanese stakeholders to make necessary compromises” as preparation was underway for the “resumption and completion of the Phase II of the Forum”.
H.E. Mrs Hirut Zemene in her statement highlighted the needs to reflect on the ways the next HLRF should proceed and to assist the South Sudanese parties to reach a win-win solution. The State Minister announced that the Council decided to put an end to the house arrest of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) leader, Dr Riek Machar.