The African Union said it could send troops to South Sudan if an intervention became “necessary” to end 19 months of civil war.
East African negotiators presented a compromise proposal to government and rebel representatives on July 24 in the latest effort to forge a power-sharing deal. Clashes that began in December 2013 following a split within South Sudan’s ruling party have killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than 2 million others from their homes.
The African Union Peace and Security Council “agrees, should this become necessary, to deploy an African force to bring the ongoing tragedy in South Sudan to a definite end,” it said Saturday in an e-mailed statement.
The civil war was set to be a point of discussion during President Barack Obama’s visits to Kenya and Ethiopia, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on July 22. The United Nations has a peacekeeping force of as many as 12,500 troops in South Sudan, while the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional bloc, monitors the conflict.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011 to became the world’s newest nation, taking with it three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil. Output has fallen by at least a third to about 165,000 barrels per day because of the war, the Petroleum Ministry said in May. The country has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data.
A committee comprising Algeria, Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda will study an African Union report into the civil war that has policy recommendations, the council said. African leaders will consider the committee’s suggestions by the end of the month, it said.
Uganda, which militarily intervened to back President Salva Kiir’s government shortly after the conflict erupted, shouldn’t be part of the discussions as it’s involved in the war, rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar said in a July 24 statement. His movement has called for the African Union report, which includes a dissenting opinion, to be made public.