By Taddeo Bwambale
An IGAD-led mediation team has appealed to member states to expedite the deployment of the regional Protection Force in South Sudan.
The appeal for faster deployment of the force comes amidst renewed clashes in Bentiu that killed hundreds of people.
IGAD heads of state approved the deployment of the force at the 25th Extraordinary African Heads of State summit on South Sudan held in March.
In a statement on Wednesday, IGAD special envoys said they had visited several member states calling for a faster process to deploy the protection force and fast-track the mediation process.
"The Special Envoys have conducted a series of shuttle missions to regional capitals and held consultations with leaders of IGAD countries as well as the African Union, the United Nations and IGAD Partners to mobilize support for the mediation process and the unhindered operations of the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) as well as to expedite the deployment of the regional Protection Force (PF),” the statement reads in part.
Peace talks that focus on a political dialogue for national reconciliation and healing resumed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday.
The talks had been adjourned from April 7 to allow consultations by delegations representing South Sudan President, Salva Kiir and his rival, former vice president Riek Machar.
The mediators said both parties had expressed their commitment to the mediation process to end the four-month long conflict.
Last week, the South Sudan Government released four political detainees, a move IGAD said was a key step in negotiations to end the conflict.
The peace process has recently shifted focus to facilitating dialogue on internal issues of the SPLM/A.
The talks are facilitated by the African National Congress (ANC) and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
The framework of the peace process is intended to address the underlying causes of the current crisis in South Sudan.
IGAD pushes for South Sudan Protection Force