ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo: Giyani Baloi

Pretoria - America’s top African diplomat says President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as his special envoy to South Sudan underscored his commitment to peace in Africa’s troubled newest state.

Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield commended Zuma for the appointment and said Ramaphosa – like the other special envoys appointed by the US, the EU, the African Union, China and others – were all contributing to finding a peaceful solution to the fighting which erupted on December 15 between the forces of President Salva Kiir and his former vice-president Riek Machar.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said in a video press conference from Washington yesterday to journalists across Africa, as the faltering peace talks resumed in Addis Ababa.

The fallout between the leaders degenerated into ethnic warfare and has not stopped completely, despite a cessation of hostilities agreement by both sides last month.

Speaking at the same video conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US felt it had a special responsibility to end the conflict as it had been involved throughout the long efforts to bring about the state of South Sudan in 2011 when it seceded from Sudan.

The US had strongly supported South Sudan’s quest for independence because it was “part of the American story… we respect democracy, the opportunity to be able to define your own future”.

South African officials said that, although Ramaphosa had also been picked because of the ANC’s close links with South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party, within which the conflict was occurring, he would intervene in the crisis as special envoy of Zuma and the South African government.

Cape Times