ENTEBBE, Uganda, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Regional leaders in East Africa have called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Sudan, where clashes since April of last year have left thousands of people dead.
In a communique issued late Thursday at the end of the one-day Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit held at State House, 40 km south of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, the leaders said that the warring parties must cease hostilities and continue dialogue to bring an end to the conflict.
They urged the warring parties to have a face-to-face meeting within two weeks, emphasizing that IGAD member states will utilize all means and capabilities to ensure the conflict is resolved peacefully.
President of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh chaired the meeting, attended by Kenyan President William Ruto, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Moussa Faki, the African Union Commission chairperson, and several envoys from the European Union, UN and Arab League, among others, also attended the meeting.
Guelleh said that the leaders were meeting at a time when the region was facing devastating conflicts and tensions, emphasizing that their resolutions require both leadership and a shared vision that transcends borders.
He said that the region needs to collectively engage to resolve conflicts and tensions.
Museveni described the fighting in Sudan as an unjust war that must be ended through dialogue, noting that not every misunderstanding requires starting a war.
Faki said the warring parties in the conflict have the responsibility to end the fighting that has brought suffering to the Sudanese people. He added that the AU will work with the different parties and regional organizations to ensure that the conflict is resolved.
Sudan, a member of IGAD, skipped the meeting. On Tuesday, the country announced it had frozen dealings with IGAD regarding resolving the conflict, arguing that it was not consulted before putting the matter of the Sudan crisis on the agenda.
To further dialogue in the resolution of the conflict, the AU Commission on Wednesday appointed three prominent African personalities as members of the AU High-Level Panel on Sudan. The three, Mohamed Ibn Chambas from Ghana, Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe from Uganda and Francisco Madeira from Mozambique, are supposed to work with all Sudanese stakeholders to ensure an all-inclusive process toward the swift restoration of peace, constitutional order and stability in Sudan, according to the AU Commission statement.
The panel will work with all civilian forces, military belligerents and regional and global actors, including IGAD, the UN and the League of Arab States.
More than 12,000 people have been killed in Sudan's deadly clashes since April last year, according to a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in early December last year. ■