ADDIS ABABA, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers on Thursday submitted the final report of the proposal to bring South Sudan's warring factions together towards peace.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister and the current Chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers, Workneh Gebeyehu, said that proposal marks "a very critical juncture where the one-year-long Revitalization Process finally bore a valuable document that would address the outstanding issues among the parties particularly on responsibility sharing and security arrangement mechanisms."
Gebeyehu urged parties to effectively use the bridging final proposal "to once and for all put the lingering misery of the people of South Sudan to its closure."
The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government is expected to endorse the proposal in its 32nd extra-ordinary summit, which is scheduled to take place soon after the Council of Ministers summit.
The assembly, based on the council's recommendation, is also expected to engage the parties to sign the revitalized agreement prepared based on the bridging proposal.
The IGAD Council of Ministers submitted the report of the bridging proposal as South Sudan's rival leaders gathered for the long-awaited discussion after nearly two years of a face-to-face meeting.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar are currently in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa for peace talks under the invitation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is also the current chairman of the East African bloc IGAD.
Machar, who heads the opposition Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), arrived in Ethiopia from his two-year exile in South Africa to meet Kiir and Ahmed.
The East African bloc, as the main broker of the South Sudanese peace deal, has been frequently expressing its concern that South Sudanese parties have not made sufficient compromises to overcome the outstanding issues on governance and security matters.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the humanitarian crisis triggered by the civil war and chronic underdevelopment continues to intensify on a costly trajectory for the country's people and their outlook on the future.
The number of people uprooted since the start of the conflict in 2013 has reached more than 4 million, including 1.9 million internally displaced people, with up to 85 percent estimated to be children and women, according to UNOCHA.
Mohamoud Ali Youssouf, Djibouti's Minister for Foreign Affairs, on Thursday expressed his hopes that the proposal "would finally bring about the peace the South Sudanese aspire if the parties could effectively use it."
Foreign Minister of Uganda Sam Kutesa also underlined the urgent need to take punitive measures on individuals who obstruct the peace process.
Kenya's cabinet secretary for foreign affairs Monica Jumma, Somalia's foreign minister Ahmed Isse Awad and the foreign minister of Sudan Mohammed Dirdiri were also in attendance at the IGAD's Council of Ministers meeting in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
Ismail Wais, IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, while presenting the final bridging proposal to the Council of Ministers on Thursday, also noted that IGAD forged an Intensive Interlinked Consultation (IIC) for three days that aimed at engaging the parties on the outstanding governance and security issues to enable them to reach consensus.
Based on their deliberations and discussions, IGAD's team further revised the bridging proposal for the Council's consideration and endorsement, Wais said.