Home | News    Thursday 27 February 2014

S. Sudan rivals agree in principle to forming interim government

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

February 26, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) - South Sudan government and rebel negotiators on Wednesday confirmed that IGAD, the regional bloc mediating peace talks, had put the formation of an interim government on the table for discussion.

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The head of the rebel delegation, General Taban Deng Gai, signs a ceasefire agreement, ending more than five weeks of fighting in South Sudan following negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 23 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Representatives of the two parties in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, told Sudan Tribune that they accepted the proposal in principle, which is part of regional efforts to end the political turmoil and conflict in the East African nation.

However, both sides dismissed rumours that the proposed formation of an interim government excludes the participation the two key actors - South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar.

Members of the SPLM-in-Opposition told Sudan Tribune that the IGAD proposal did not mention the exclusion of any particular personalities, saying at this point it was an item on the agenda for discussion.

The two sides said it is too early to talk about who participates or is ultimately excluded from being part of the interim government.

Rebels said the proposed issue had not yet been discussed in detail and that the role and composition of the proposed interim government would need to be determined at a later date.

“We are on the negotiation and the agenda is broad, which shall include interim arrangements,” Taban Deng Gai, the head of the rebel delegation told Sudan Tribune.

“Discussing personalities’ participation in the interim government shall be the last” item debated in the new round of negotiations, he added.

A senior member of the government delegation who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the press said the draft proposal had the backing of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), but insisted that Kiir remains the legitimate leader of the country.

On Monday, South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, rejected suggestions Kiir should resign given that he had been elected by an overwhelming majority.

“There is no reason to qualify such suggestions. If there are people who want to contest the same position they can do that in the 2015 [elections]. They will not be denied their right because we are a democratic country,” Marial told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

However, Machar’s SPLM/A-in-Opposition rebel group argue that Kiir has lost his legitimacy following the eruption of violence in the capital, Juba, in mid-December.

The violence was initially sparked by clashes between rival factions within the presidential guards, with Kiir accusing his former deputy of masterminding an alleged coup attempt.

The conflict subsequently spread across the country, pitting Machar’s supporters against pro-government force loyal to Kiir.

Kiir’s political opponents, seven of whom were arrested but later released and allowed to participate in the Addis Ababa talks, have denied claims they plotted to overthrow the government. Four other senior SPLM figures remain in custody.

The SPLM/A-in-Opposition says that South Sudan needs a new leader who can unite the South Sudanese people. They are also demanding the withdrawal of the Ugandan army (UPDF), which is currently providing military support to the South Sudan army (SPLA).

Juba initially denied UPDF’s role in military operations, but has since admitted it is footing the bill for their presence in the country, which has also been championed by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.

GADIANG ATTACK

Meanwhile, Gai has denied that rebel forces loyal to Machar were the first to launch a military attack in Jonglei state’s Gadiang village on Monday.

Government forces said they had killed 173 rebels, including three generals, following the attack which comes in breach of a ceasefire agreement signed by both sides last month.

Gai, who was sacked as Unity state governor by Kiir last year, dismissed the accusations, while also disputing the number of rebel casualties.

“It is not true. We didn’t attack Gadiang. Government forces supported by [the] UPDF of Museveni launched [a] futile attack with an intention to advance to Akobo and Yuai. They were then beaten back to Gadiang with heavy losses in men and materiel,” he said.

The SPLM/A-in-Opposition’s forces “have now besieged Gadiang and will take it any time as [the] morale of Kiir[’s] forces is down and many of them have already deserted Gadiang”.

The first round talks between the two rival parties secured a fragile ceasefire agreement on 23 January, although the deal has failed to halt fighting on the ground.

Since the signing of the agreement, both sides have traded accusations of violating the peace pact aimed at ending the conflict which erupted has killed thousands and displaced almost a million people.

South Sudan’s government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, last week reiterated the commitment of the country’s leadership to the cessation of hostilities agreement.

While in an earlier interview with Sudan Tribune, SPLA spokesperson Phillip Aguer cited rebel attacks on the oil-rich Upper Nile capital, Malakal, as evidence that the ceasefire has “continuously been violated by the rebel forces of Riek Machar”.

The two sides have yet to resume the second round of peace talks on political and national reconciliation, stalling efforts to find a durable solution to the nine-week-old crisis.

Many analysts have expressed fears that Machar’s presidential ambitions and the desire by president Kiir to remain in power beyond 2015 will remain an ongoing stumbling block to resolving the conflict.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 27 February 21:30, by Akol Liai Mager

    New blood, energised and developmental-minded person is what South Sudan needs right now even if that is to get him/her outside SPLM circle. Those who ignited or resorted to violence must retire from politics and be investigated for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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    • 27 February 23:58, by Akook

      What is the usual hell with this guy called Marial Benjamin’s defence’s with the genocidal Kiir Mayardit. Pls where do you getting legitimacy or elected president argument all the time. Do you think all South Sudanese are stupid to shame you one day with this argument of yours about Kiir! Kiir is illegitimate president, his tenure automatically stops as we transcend into Independent South Sudan

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      • 28 February 00:04, by Akook

        We stoped being under both the constitutions of Sudan and then autonomous South Sudan as we announced independent on the July 09th, 2011 and adopted an Interim South Sudan constitution. Under which constitution that tells us now that Kiir is an elected president? Kiir is not wise, he would have immediately right after declaration of independent called fresh elections to affirm his ilegitimacy

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        • 28 February 00:12, by Akook

          IGAD & INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY to choose wisely to go with the choice of South Sudanese people having their lives saved and build stronger democratic foundation of this nation than to appease individuals like Kiir & Riek with power sharing. This will be a carrying forward of all these problems to have other lives lost again at the later stage. INTERIM ADMINISTRATION WITHOUT BOTH IS THE BEST CHOICE

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      • 28 February 05:02, by Bentiu son

        Bravo Akook,Yes,genocidal President Salva Kiir has lost his legitimacy as President or legacy as freedom fighters after he had betrayed SPLA by imported hired mercenaries from Uganda UPDF,M23 of DRC of Congo,JEM of Darfur and SPLA-N of Malik Agaar to defense South Sudan’s Constitution/sovereignty/territory.Moreover,Salva Kiir massacred his own citizens who voted him in Office in 2010 mercilessly.

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  • 28 February 03:40, by dinkdong

    "Both sides dismissed rumors that the proposed formation of an interim government excludes the participation the two key actors - South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar." So how is it an interim government? Both Kiir and Riek must be excluded to make sense.

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  • 28 February 04:58, by 4Justice

    The formation of an interim Government without the participation of (Usless Kiir) and Macar would bring instant joy, peace, mutual respect, equal justice and economic development for the disenfranchised people of South Sudan.

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    • 28 February 07:36, by Malakal county Simon

      The delegation parties in Adis Ababa should also discuss the need for new constitution of South Sudan, with clear separaon of powers between States, National, and Judiciary.... Because the current constitution, has given too much powers to the president, which I believe is one of the factor, that’s caused instabilities in the country since after independent!!!!

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      • 28 February 07:50, by Malakal county Simon

        Cont...
        In regards to interim new government to be form and to avoid the ongoing sense-less war, is a welcome idea but kiir should not be the leader whatsoever.... Kiir himself is the main perpetrator who imposed this sense-less war on us,but every one else including Dr Machar and others, can lead this interim government untill election time

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