By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
June 7, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A multi-stakeholders symposium on South Sudan is currently underway in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, as part of the ongoing IGAD-led mediation process to end nearly six-months of conflict in the young nation.
- Seyoum Mesfin (L), chairperson of IGAD mediators, and Taban Deng Gai, the SPLM in Opposition’s chief negotiator, attend the resumption of South Sudan talks in Addis Ababa on 11 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)
The all-inclusive dialogue commenced Friday after civil society organisations and the SPLM-in-Opposition delegates, who initially had logistical constraints, managed to make it to the venue of the talks.
As the symposium entered its second day, however, four thematic groups namely justice, reconciliation and healing, security sector reforms, transitional arrangements and constitutional development and reforms were formed.
The proposal on formation of a federal system of governance in South Sudan and change of leadership were the two most contentious issues during the discussions.
The government representatives rejected suggestions demanding for a federal system of governance in the country and change in its current leadership during the interim period.
The civil society, political parties and SPLM/SPLA-in-Opposition members have voiced support change in leadership and federal system as the basis of government.
Accountability and justice were also among some of the contentious issues.
With this regard, traditional, hybrid and international justice mechanism were proposed to address the impunity and crimes committed by all side to the conflict.
Corruption was another issue raised by participants to be address adequately so that it is not used as a political tool to victimise others.
The symposium brought together some 150 participants from government, SPLM-in- Opposition, political parties, faith based groups, civil societies and traditional leaders.
The team from IGAD, the regional block mediating the talks, said its mediators will use the three-day all inclusive meeting to determine possible areas of common ground on thematic issues in order to advance future negotiations.
A source close to the peace process on Friday told Sudan Tribune that IGAD will announce the timetable for next round of talks between the two South Sudan rivals based on the outcome of the ongoing symposium.