June 25, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese leader of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM in Opposition), Riek Machar, has written a letter to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon explaining his position over stalled IGAD-mediated peace talks with Salva Kiir’s government, a rebel spokesperson has revealed.
- South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar gives a press conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 12 May 2014 (Photo: AFP/Zacharias Abubeker)
IGAD mediators on Monday in Addis Ababa announced they adjourned the peace talks indefinitely over inclusivity crisis of the other stakeholders who were to join the negotiations.
The mediation team would also travel to New York to recommend to the UN Security Council (UNSC) an action to take against the two parties, possibly targeted sanctions.
The rebels however described the adjournment of the talks as unnecessary; saying their readiness for direct talks with the government delegation was previously stated clearly to the mediators which they have also reiterated in the letter to the UN chief, dated 23 June.
“The chairman and commander-in-chief of SPLM/SPLA, Dr Riek Machar Teny, has written a letter to the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki Moon, in which he reiterated our commitment and readiness for direct talks with the government,” Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
Dak explained that direct talks between the two main rivals would have continued, adding that the matter over inclusivity or selection process of the other stakeholders such as civil society organisations and faith-based groups would be fairly and transparently reviewed and prepare them for a consultative role.
The rebels boycotted a premature opening of the fourth round of talks on Friday and Saturday in protest over what they said was unfair selection process of the other stakeholders who were dominated by pro-government civil societies. They also preferred direct talks with the government delegation in order to beat the dateline of two months imposed by the mediation.
“These other stakeholders would participate in a consultative manner. This is because we want the two warring parties to directly negotiate in order to expeditiously reach to a political settlement within the 60-day timeframe,” Dak added.
“It was unnecessary for the talks to adjourn. The two parties should have engaged in direct negotiations while the other stakeholders are reserved for a consultative role. On our part we are ready for talks with the government to end the crisis,” he said.
The other stakeholders included but not limited to the civil society organizations, faith-based groups and former SPLM detainees, sometimes known as the third bloc.
The rebel leader’s spokesperson added that in the letter to the UN chief, Machar expressed his gratitude for the passing of the UNSC resolution 2155 (2014), which expands the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The new mandate covers the protection of monitoring of verification teams charged with monitoring of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed by the two parties on 23 January.