Salva Kiir Backs AU’s Call for Dialogue Over Ethiopia Conflict

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit has reiterated a call by the regional African Union (AU) urging the warring parties to engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve their political differences.

Kiir, while addressing the end of the Fifth Governors Forum in Juba on Monday said that he was concerned that the ongoing fighting between the Ethiopian government troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front or TPLF, could cause security threats to the entire Horn of African region.

“In the interest of regional stability, I am registering South Sudan’s willingness to support the African Union’s mediation in Ethiopia to help the warring parties to narrow their differences,” Kiir said.

President Kiir said he has been talking to the two parties to amicably solve their differences before the situation escalates. 

“These are people known to all of us and we have been with them for a very long time,” he said. 

“The people in the Tigray land are now subjected to humanitarian disasters because the government has refused to allow relief to go to the affected people,” he said stressing that many people are suffering from the impasse.

President Kiir added that the recent escalation of military confrontation between the Sudanese Armed forces and the Ethiopian troops and their allied militias is also worrying as it causes a security threat to the region.

“I tried to talk to General Al Burhan to stop what they might have been thinking of,” Kiir said. “I didn’t talk to Prime Minister Abiy but I will still try to talk to him.”

Sudanese authorities announced on Saturday that several of its troops were killed in the Al Fashaga area by the Ethiopian government forces and their allied militia.

The Ethiopian government denied the allegation and instead blamed the TPLF for the attack on Sudanese forces. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday urged Tigrayan rebels to surrender, claiming government forces were nearing victory just one week after he vowed to lead military operations at the front.

The area has been the site of fierce fighting in recent weeks as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group tries to seize control of a critical highway that supplies the capital Addis Ababa.

Last week Abiy, a former lieutenant colonel in the military, announced that he would head to the battlefield after the TPLF claimed to control Shewa Robit, a town just 220 kilometers (135 miles) northeast of Addis Ababa by road.

Fears of a rebel march on the capital have prompted the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and other countries to urge their citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible, though Abiy’s government says TPLF gains are overstated and the city is secure.

War broke out between the two sides in November 2020, with Abiy sending troops into the northernmost Tigray region to topple the TPLF – a move he said came in response to TPLF attacks on army camps.

Thousands have been killed, more than two million have been displaced and hundreds of thousands driven into famine-like conditions, according to UN estimates.

The African Union’s special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, and other diplomats are trying to broker a ceasefire, though there has been little evident progress so far.

News Agencies