JUBA, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar must put their interests aside and commit to the next round of face-to-face talks to end more than four years of devastating conflict, the African Union envoy in the country said.

Jerome Biswaro, the African Union (AU) Representative in South Sudan said the pan-Africa body was encouraged by last Wednesday’s meeting between Kiir and Machar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and encourages the rival leaders to bring real peace during the second round of the face-to-face talks slated for this week in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

“The African Union recognizes and encourages the bold and encouraging decision which His Excellency Salva Kiir took for a face-to-face meeting with Riek Machar. We believe that is of good sign of statesmanship and we encourage this second round of their meeting,” Biswaro said.

“We hope peace will be delivered to the people of South Sudan who continue to suffer unbearably in this senseless war. Time is of essence. Political will and decision has to be taken on board,” the AU envoy added.

The warring South Sudanese leaders met for the first time in two years after deadly clashes in 2016 between forces loyal to both men shattered a 2015 peace deal and sent Machar into exile in South Africa.

The 32nd extra-ordinary summit of the regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD) Assembly of Heads of State and Government on South Sudan, this week tasked Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to facilitate the second round of face-to-face discussion between Kiir and Machar within two weeks to build on the Ethiopian talks.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN has estimated that about four million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 between the rival leaders under United Nations pressure led to the establishment of a transitional unity government in April 2016, but was shattered by renewed fighting months later.

Source: Nam News Network