South Sudan President Salva Kiir with his deputy General Taban Deng Gai.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has echoed the call by IGAD for the newly appointed First Vice President of South Sudan, Taban Deng Gai, to step down for his embattled predecessor Riek Machar.

The resolution passed at the 616th meeting of the AU’s PSC in Addis Ababa stated that Machar, who was First Vice President until July 24 this year, should be reinstated upon his return to the national capital Juba. It

The AU body expressed concern over the ongoing fighting around Juba and in other parts of the country which sparked on July 7 when rival soldiers clashed in Juba and also called for deployment of a third party protection force to take charge for the security in the capital.

NEW VP: Gen Taban Deng Gai. Photo/sudaneseonline.org
NEW VP: Gen Taban Deng Gai. Photo/sudaneseonline.org

“The decision encouraging Dr. Riek Machar to re-join the peace process and the commitment by General Taban Deng Gai to step down upon the return of Dr Machar with a view to returning to the status quo are in line with the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS),” partly reads the communiqué.

The statement called upon the parties to the August 2015 peace agreement to embrace mutual trust and to implement the accord and supported the IGAD ‘call for the UN Security Council (UNSC) to extend the Mission of UNMISS with a revised mandate including the deployment of the Regional Protection Force’.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the IGAD Regional Chiefs of Defence Staff is scheduled to take place today in Addis Ababa. The meeting comes in the wake of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) announcing it will meet today to decide on the deployment of a 4,000-strong peacekeeping force to Juba, a position strongly opposed by the government of South Sudan.