By Steve Paterno
March 26, 2014 - Finally, South Sudanese negotiators convened in Addis Ababa and for the first time, the warring groups will meet face to face since they signed the cessation of hostilities on January 23rd, 2014.
On the second round of the talks, the mediators introduced a third bloc to the negotiations made up of former detainees implicated in a coup plot that gave birth to the current rebellion. The government adamantly objects to the participation of the former detainees in the talks. Instead, the government demands for the group to appear in court proceedings, since they were released on bail.
The third round of the talks also suffered a set back, because the mediators once again introduced the third bloc to the negotiations. That happened despite the fact that in a meeting of IGAD heads, it was agreed that only two parties must participate in the talks. The government in its part rejected the inclusion of a third party and refused to show up to the talks last week.
It seems like there are some inflated significance the mediators place on these so called detainees. For starters, those were people serving higher positions within government system. They were eventually fired for incompetence and corruption. The population welcomed the fact that they were out of government. Then, instead of them moving on with their life, they mounted serious oppositions against the government, hence, they are implicated in a failed coup attempt. Contrary to the media reports, this group are not composed of Senior SPLM members. Though some of them hold high positions in SPLM party, the rest are mere members of the party, without holding any significant position in a party. The media accord them wrong titles, inflating their ambitions. Even worst, the group is constituted of individuals who have no constituency within South Sudan. The 2010 Sudanese general elections exposed and embarrassed them as some of them lost with margins in their home areas. The populous were annoyed that they were still serving in government, while losing the trust of constituencies.
The challenge now hinges more on mediators than the warring parties. The mediators seem to get it all wrong by projecting the talks in a wrong direction.