ADDIS ABABA– The eight-nation Horn of Africa grouping, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has been urged to remain united to encourage the leadership of South Sudan to seize the opportunity to restore the Peace Agreement for the conflict-torn nation onto centre stage.

The call came from Festus Mogae, the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which was established by the leaders of the IGAD member nations in August 2015 to monitor and oversee the implementation of the Peace Agreement when he addressed the 59th extra-ordinary session of the IGAD Council of Ministers here Sunday, according to a statement released in connection with the meeting.

“I appeal to IGAD to be resolute, without fear or favour, in their determination to ensure the success of the revitalization forum. This is a huge opportunity that cannot be wasted or squandered,” said Mogae, a former president of Botswana, who stressed that the sub-region must approach the revitalization with strength of purpose.

“Collectively, it is critical that the IGAD Heads of State and Governments prevail over the South Sudanese leadership to rethink the current trajectory of the country and take the necessary steps to restore peace and inclusive governance,” he said.

He called on all the South Sudanese participants at the High-Level Revitalization Forum to remain focused on the desperate plight of the people of South Sudan. “For them, we must stop the fighting, end the violence, deal with criminality, prevent sexual and human rights abuses, reduce human suffering and address the economic crisis,” said Mogae.

“I reiterate my call to all South Sudanese stakeholders that, as they come to the table in search of a sustainable political solution, they must renounce violence and demonstrate the political will to compromise and accommodate one another.

“It is simply not possible to overstate the fundamental necessity for an immediate cessation of all hostilities. Without that, we stand no chance of stemming the tide of displacement, enabling unhindered delivery of aid to those in need or contemplating the return of IDPs (internally displaced persons) and refugees to their homes.”