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S. Sudan rebels to boycott peace talks over Uganda’s new role

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 27, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese rebels led by the country’s former vice president Riek Machar on Thursday warned that they could boycott peace talks, to end the over three months of conflict, in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The warning by the opposition group comes after Uganda, whose troops are in direct combat against Riek Machar’s forces having intervened along side the SPLM government at the start of the conflict, over a proposal to for the country to participate in the talks as an observer.

The head of the rebel’s negotiating team, General Taban Deng Gai, in a statement said that his team rejects "in the strongest terms possible" the participation of Uganda as an observer at the peace process which is being mediated by East African regional bloc - the Intergovernmental Authority Development (IGAD).

"The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) is fighting alongside the government of South Sudan’s forces; and therefore it’s a party to the conflict which disqualifies them as a peace mediator" said Gai.

However the rebel group – known as the SPLM/A in Opposition – said it has no objection to the participation of Uganda alongside the government of Salva Kirr’s negotiating delegation.

Gai reaffirmed his team’s commitment to continue participating at the peace process on the condition that Uganda, which also a member state of IGAD, is not allowed to participate.

Ethiopia, who have been hosting the talks, have been the chief mediators.

"Uganda cannot be both the prosecutor and the judge at the same time" Deng said as face to face talks between the South Sudanese government and rebels resumed Thursday in Addis Ababa.

Sudan Tribune has learnt that there is diverging position on the agenda of the negotiations.

The SPLM/A in Opposition wants to discuss interim arrangements, swift reforms and the restructuring of public services, security, the economy, foreign policy and systems of governance.

The government, however, seems reluctant to discuss restructuring and wider reforms.

The two sides signed a ceasefire deal on 23 January but it has been seriously violated by both sides.

Over 700,000 people have been displaced and an estimated 10,000 people have died since soldiers backing president Kiir and those supporting Riek Machar clashed in Juba on December 15, precipitating a split in the army and ruling party.

(ST)

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  • 28 March 2014 06:52, by Ambago

    There is no way that Uganda can be a party to this talks! Museveni is not invited. People are In Addis to discuss interim arrangements, swift reforms and the restructuring of public services, security, the economy, foreign policy and systems of governance.
    If the Kiir’s government is reluctant to discuss interim period and restructuring, then the troika should intervene and show them the red eye

    repondre message

  • 28 March 2014 07:03, by Bentiu son

    Dear Gen Taban Deng Gai and SPLA/M in Opposition,please comrades,do not allow whatsoever it may takes for Ugandan warmongers to participate as Peace talk observers. What creditablity does Ugandan under M7 has while they already took side with geno regime of Salva Kiir aganist our freedom fighters under Dr Machar Teny.We shall be happy if M7 n his mentor or puppet Salva Kiir sit at one side there.

    repondre message

  • 28 March 2014 07:05, by tootke’bai-ngo

    IGAD SHOULD EXPEL UGANDA FROM THE ORGANIZATION FOR CREATING & SUPPPPORTING ONE OF THE WORST HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN THE HISTORY OF REGION. PEOPLE OF S.SUDAN ABROAD & INSIDE THE COUNTRY ARE CAREFULLY SCRUNITIZING UGANDA;S ROLE,WHAT PROMPTED PRESIDENT KIIR TO SUDDENLY DECLARED WAR AGAINST ITS OWN PEOPLE. PLEASE, M7 PULL YOUR MURDERERS UPDF OUT OF S.SUDAN & STOP BEING AN OBSECLE ON PEACE TALK.

    repondre message

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