December 31, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudanese rival groups have agreed to negotiate a ceasefire in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and further negotiate an agreement to stop the two-week violence which erupted on 15 December in the capital, Juba, and rapidly spread to some other major states.
- South Sudan army soldiers look on in Malakal town, 497km (308 miles) northeast of capital Juba, December 30, 2013 (Photo Reuters/ James Akena)
The violence fitted president Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar in the wake of misunderstandings between presidential guard units in the capital.
Kiir described the incident as an attempted coup by Machar and his group while the latter dismissed the claim saying that was simply a misunderstanding between the soldiers. He accused Kiir of using the incident to get rid of his political opponents.
The fighting spread largely on tribal lines when the Nuer civilians were targeted in Juba by the SPLA forces loyal to president Salva Kiir.
Attempts to bring the two warring parties to the negotiating table failed as preconditions were set before the 31 December deadline.
However, the two sides have reached a compromise by dropping some of their preconditions to the talks.
President Salva Kiir had dropped his demand that Machar should accept a ceasefire before negotiations can start while Machar demanded the release of his 9 colleagues detained by Kiir in order for the ceasefire to be negotiated.
The former vice president told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that he had already sent his delegation to Addis Ababa to negotiate a ceasefire with the delegation of the government of president Salva Kiir.
The delegation includes two members of the ruling party’s political bureau and the acting governor of Jonglei state.
“I have already sent my delegation to Addis Ababa. They include Madam Robecca Nyandeng de Mabior, prof Peter Adwok Nyaba, Taban Deng Gai and Hussein Mar Nyuot, among others,” he said.
He further accused Salva Kiir of preventing from leaving Juba some of his delegates who are not in jail and were supposed to be in the advance team to Addis Ababa.
A source from the ministry of foreign affairs also said president Kiir on Tuesday appointed a delegation that would go to Addis Ababa for the talks.
He could not, however, disclose the names of the personalities that will compose the government’s team.
The two principals, Kiir and Machar, are also expected to join the face-to-face talks soon, the official further revealed.
Machar’s forces recaptured the strategic city of Bor, the capital of Jonglei state on Tuesday, some hours before the deadline for the negotiations supported by the IGAD countries.
BOOTH CONFIRMS DEAL
United States special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth in a short statement issued on Tuesday confirmed that the agreement reached by the two warring parties to engage talks in Addis Ababa.
"I am very pleased to be able to say that both the government of the Republic of South Sudan and the opposition forces aligned with Riek Machar have agreed to send teams today to Addis Ababa prepared to negotiate".
He added that this agreement is a “a first step, but a very important step " towards a cessation of hostilities and negotiations of a political agreement to end the conflict that started in the new country since two weeks ago.