UN wants release of AU-led South Sudan inquiry

UN Assistant Secretary General Ivan Simonovic speaks during a press conference at the UN base in Juba, on January 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Phil Moore)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - A senior UN rights official voiced concern on Monday that an African Union commission of inquiry report on the bloodshed in South Sudan will not come up for discussion at an upcoming AU summit.

UN Assistant Secretary General Ivan Simonovic said shelving the key report on South Sudan's year-long war would be a "very disturbing development" at a time when the Security Council is weighing sanctions.

"We are very concerned about that possibility," Simonovic told reporters.

"We think it's essential to have that report submitted during the African Union summit, but also to make that report public afterwards," he said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will attend the January 29-31 AU summit in Addis Ababa that is expected to touch on the worsening conflict in South Sudan.

Simonovic is due to travel to South Sudan for a fact-finding mission after the summit, with stops planned in Juba, Malakal and Bentiu.

UN rights investigators last week released the first detailed account of two attacks in South Sudan last year during which that war crimes may have been committed.

The United States told the Security Council in November that it was ready to present a draft resolution on imposing sanctions on leaders who are thwarting peace efforts in South Sudan, but there has been no movement since.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup.

The fighting in Juba set off a cycle of retaliatory massacres across the country, pushing it to the brink of famine. Both government forces and rebels loyal to Machar continue to fight, despite numerous ceasefire deals.