“South Sudan is in a critical phase, with reports of fighting in several parts of the country. The coming hours and days will be decisive. If efforts to initiate political dialogue do not succeed, there is a danger of all-out civil war along ethnic lines,” said Foreign Minister Børge Brende.
Mr Brende has spoken today with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin. He has also discussed the situation with former vice president Riek Machar, one of the leaders of the rebellion against President Kiir. In these conversations Mr Brende clearly expressed his concern that the conflict in South Sudan could erupt into a civil war.
“In my conversations with the leaders in South Sudan, I emphasised my deep concern about developments in the country. A political process must be initiated to resolve the conflict while it is still possible. All the parties to the conflict must contribute, but President Kiir has a particular responsibility because of his position,” said Mr Brende.
“I believe that a political solution is still possible, but I warned both President Kiir and rebel leader Mr Machar that a military solution to the conflict may result in long-term destabilisation of the country. A military conflict would mean a dramatic setback for economic development and frighten off potential investors. It would have a devastating effect on the civilian population, which has already suffered greatly from war and conflict,” said Foreign Minister Brende.
Mr Brende also spoke today with the head of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, Mr Smail Chergui.
“Regional organisations such as the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) play a particularly important role in bringing the parties in South Sudan to the negotiating table. Norway is prepared to support both the African Union and IGAD in their efforts,” said Mr Brende.
Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom – known as the Sudan Troika – have all expressed deep concern about the situation in South Sudan. Foreign Minister Brende has decided to dispatch Special Envoy Gunnar Holm to South Sudan. Mr Holm and the US special envoy are on their way to Juba.