A much-anticipated African Union inquiry calls for South Sudan’s president and his rival to be barred from a transitional government and for the country to effectively be placed under AU control, Reuters reported, citing sources and a draft of the report.
The recommendations are directly at odds with a peace deal being negotiated that would retain Salva Kiir as president and appoint rebel leader Riek Machar as deputy. The two are holding talks this week in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on forming a unity government.
The draft recommended that members of the South Sudan government, including the president, vice president and ministers in power before the cabinet’s dissolution in July 2013 “be barred from participation in the transitional executive.”
It called for an AU-appointed and U.N.-backed three-person panel to oversee a five-year transition and the creation of a transitional executive that would place all oil revenue in an escrow account overseen by the African Development Bank.
The draft obtained by Reuters recommends that the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, instead of the International Criminal Court, be given criminal jurisdiction over “high state officials individually responsible for war crimes and/or gross violation of human rights.”
The findings were to be presented to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on Jan. 29 but the body shelved publication of the report. The inquiry’s findings have not been released due to fears its publication could disrupt peace negotiations, say diplomats in the 54-state African Union.
Reuters obtained a 60-page draft of the inquiry, which a source close to the five-member inquiry panel said was produced in October. The same recommendations of barring Kiir and Machar from a transitional government were included in a new draft in January, the sources told Reuters.
The inquiry, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, holds Kiir and Machar responsible for the political collapse in December 2013 and “the organized massacres and the large-scale violence that followed.”
March 06, 2015
It also recommended the creation of an African Oversight Force made up of troops “without prior involvement or direct interest in South Sudan” that would be under AU command and “the overall charge” of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
It does not specify how many troops would make up the force. There are already some 11,500 U.N. peacekeepers in South Sudan.
Blame for Troika
The inquiry blamed some of South Sudan’s problems on the United States, Britain, Norway and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an eight-country Eastern African trading bloc known as IGAD, who were behind a 2005 deal paving the way for South Sudan’s 2011 independence from Sudan.
It said they helped to establish “a politically unchallenged armed power in South Sudan” that acted with impunity and legitimized “rule of the gun.” It referred to the ruling elite as an “unaccountable political class”.
Officials from the United States and Britain declined to comment on a document they said they had not seen. Officials from South Sudan, IGAD and Norway were not immediately available for comment.
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday urged public release of the findings. The United States, Britain and Norway last month called for the report’s release.