By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
June 9, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – A multi-stakeholders symposium on South Sudan ended on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital after three days of heated debate on a range of contentious issues, including the formation of a federal system of governance and interim leadership in the new nation.
- Various representatives at the South Sudan symposium held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 8 June 2014 (Photo courtesy of IGAD)
At the end, however, government, civil societies, political parties, religious groups and the former political detainees nominated their representative to the peace talks mediated by the East Africa regional bloc (IGAD).
Accordingly, the four groups, which exclude the opposition civil society have each forwarded four representatives to the talks, totaling to 28 members.
However, the opposition civil society, which was supposed to bring seven representatives - equal as the other sides - brought only two members. As a result they couldn’t secure a single seat having been outnumbered by their opponents.
The opposition side now holds IGAD responsible over its defeat, saying, the regional body had allegedly failed to carryout its responsibility of transporting to the venue of the talks members of the opposition civil society organisations based in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.
Puoch Riek Deng, the public relations officer within the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SSRRA) in Addis Ababa said that majority of those elected were civil society members coming from the government-controlled areas.
These people, he said, nominated themselves and represented views of the regime.
“We have rejected the civil society nomination processes. It was flawed, incredible, and unfair and politically motivated”, Deng told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
He said his group has already protested to IGAD’s special envoy, General Lazarus Sumbeiywo over the matter.
Deng also accused the IGAD-instituted African Union Commission of Inquiry into South Sudan crimes of allegedly only visiting areas under government control to meet civil society members while largely ignoring those in rebel-controlled areas.
“These are the victims and family of the victims killed in juba. They must be consulted. They must be listened to and heard”, he said adding that “Their participation to the peace process is important and must be taken into considerations”.
The group urged the East African regional bloc to make this process inclusive, representative and diverse to represent all section of South Sudanese communities.
The symposium brought together some150 participants representing government, SPLM-in-opposition, political parties, faith based groups, civil societies and traditional leaders.
IGAD said its mediators will use the three-day all inclusive meeting to determine possible areas of common ground on thematic issues in order for 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 outcomes of the just-concluded symposium.