UNITED NATIONS, — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the renewed fighting in South Sudan’s capital outrageous while pointedly addressing what he describes as the failed leadership in the country.

Ban warned Monday that the gravity of the situation demanded a rapid response, calling on the UN Security Council to impose an immediate arms embargo on the country, to expand targeted sanctions against leader and commanders blocking progress and to fortify the UN Mission with additional troops and equipment.

Ban spoke a day after the Security Council condemned the recent violence which has claimed closed to 300 lives since renewed fighting the country’s rival factions erupted in the capital, Juba, on Friday. Those killed included two Chinese UN peacekeepers and a civilian UN staff.

The work of UN peacekeepers has been impeded by the renewed fighting as factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and to First Vice-President Riek Machar marked the countries fifth anniversary of independence with fighting on the streets of the nation’s capital.

Ban said: “The renewed fighting is outrageous. It is yet another grievous setback, it deepens the country’s suffering. It makes a mockery of commitments to peace. Many people have been killed in heavy fighting. There are growing fears that many more could die in another round violence.”

UN compounds and protection sites have been caught in the crossfire with warnings that attacks on civilians, UN personnel, assets and premises could constitute war crimes.

“Yet again, the leaders of South Sudan have failed their people. Rarely has a country squandered so much promise so quickly. What kind of leadership is it that resorts to deadly weapons and identity politics, time and again? Failed leadership. My message to President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar is clear: do everything in your power to de-escalate the hostilities immediately. Order your respective forces to withdraw to their basis,” added Ban.

Both leaders have reportedly called on their factions to stand down but fighting continues. This has raised serious questions about command and control of military forces in the country and whether Kiir and Machar have the influence over their commanders and troops. Kiir has now reportedly ordered a ceasefire, saying he remains ready to work with his rival.

Ban said: “Today I urge the Council to take action on three fronts. First: impose an immediate arms embargo on South Sudan. Second: enact additional targeted sanctions on leaders or commanders blocking the implementation of the agreement. Third: fortify the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). We desperately need attack helicopters and other material to fulfil our mandate to protect civilians. I also urge all countries contributing to UNMISS to stand their ground while withdrawals would send precisely the wrong signals in South Sudan and across the world.”

The Secretary-General is expected to meet the Security Council on Tuesday to discuss the needs of the UN mission that is no longer keeping the peace but caught in the crossfire of identity politics and factionalism.

Source: Name News Network