June 23, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have announced an indefinite adjournment of the Addis Ababa peace talks between the South Sudanese government and the rebels of the armed faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM in Opposition) over a crisis over inclusivity.
- Face to face talks between the South Sudanese government and rebels in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, resumed on 13 January 2014, with a secured a ceasefire agreement signed later that month (Photo: AFP/Carl De Souza)
IGAD mediators on Monday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, announced that the 4th round of the peace talks which prematurely opened on Friday without the participation of the rebel group is “adjourned” until further notice in order to give ample time for further “consultations.”
The Friday round of talks only saw the participation of the government delegation, former SPLM detainees and civil society organisations from the government controlled areas as rebels boycotted.
On Sunday the rebel group led by the former vice president, Riek Machar, said they boycotted the “partial” and “premature” resumption of the talks on Friday, stressing that the selection process for other stakeholders such as the civil society organisations and faith-based groups was unfair and lacked transparency.
The rebels demanded that civil society organisations abroad including those in UNMISS camps in the country be represented, arguing that they were the victims whose views were important for a sustainable peace process.
IGAD on Monday reacted by adjourning the peace talks indefinitely, blaming the rebels for not participating.
IGAD ACCUSED OF BACKTRACKING
SPLM/A in Opposition has however criticized as “unnecessary” the decision by IGAD to adjourn the peace talks had they heeded to their concerns and corrected the selection process of other stakeholders.
They also said the two warring parties would have continued with direct talks while the selection process of the other stakeholders was being reviewed and corrected.
In a press release issued on Monday in response to the IGAD adjournment and signed by the deputy spokesperson for the SPLM/A in Opposition, Mabior Garang de Mabior, the rebels decried the Monday collapse of the peace talks, accusing IGAD of “backtracking” from the agreed agenda and framework.
“It looks as if the mediation has backtracked from the 28 April agenda and framework, and a new framework not agreed upon is being imposed on the warring parties,” Mabior alleged.
He said the mediators have undermined the spirit of inclusivity when they succumbed to the government’s trick of presenting their handpicked institutions as the only credible civil society organisations to participate in the talks.
“The SPLM/SPLA fears that the mediation undermined inclusivity by presenting government sponsored institutions as credible South Sudanese civil society organisations,” he said.
Rebels in the past said they warned the mediators of the government’s intention to spoil the inclusivity process, saying Juba was initially not happy with participation of civil society organisations in the peace process.
The opposition group said they accept the participation of the other stakeholders in a “consultative manner” as long as the selections for inclusivity were done fairly and transparently while the two main warring parties continued to directly engage each other in resolving the conflict.
Mabior challenged the decision by IGAD to adjourn the talks instead of allowing the two warring parties to continue to directly engage in the peace process.
“It is unfortunate that the mediation has decided to adjourn the mediation indefinitely as this will unnecessarily prolong the war and the suffering of our people,” he added.
It is not clear when the peace talks will resume amidst growing concerns that the two rival parties may resort to military activities against each other.