July 1, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese information minister and spokesperson of the government negotiating team said they are ready to conclude a peace agreement within two weeks with the rebel SPLM in Opposition if they resume their participation in the peace process.
- South Sudanese information minister Michael Makuei Lueth attends a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 5 January 2014 (Photo: AP/Elias Asmara)
Michael Makuei, who was speaking at a briefing to SPLM members in Juba on Tuesday, was alluding to the rebel group’s decision to boycott peace talks in protest against the lack of inclusivity of civil society groups.
The IGAD mediation team on 23 June decided to adjourn the talks after the boycott of the negotiations by the rebel delegation to protest selection process of the civil society groups by the mediation. The SPLM-in-opposition says independent civil society groups are excluded from the process.
In an interview with Sudan Tribune published Wednesday, the rebel leader Riek Machar also blamed the mediators for involving the civil society organisations in the direct talks, saying they have no conflict with the two parties. However he said they should play a consultative role.
Makuei underlined that the 60-day deadline set on 10 June by the IGAD leaders passes quickly, adding “we are ready to sign a peace agreement within 15 days”.
However, he said that the resumption of talks depends on the return of the rebel delegation to the negotiating table.
The minister further said that the government position was since January that they want direct talks with the rebels before to engage in an inclusive dialogue including political parties and civil society.
But “the rebels, the mediation, IGAD, and the international community exerted pressures on the government to accept the participation of the stakeholders in the negotiations,” he said adding now the rebels refuse the latter.
Makuei went to say that as result of rebel decision to boycott the talks, the mediators and the IGAD now have difficult choices to make including freezing the 9 May agreement signed by president Salva Kiir and former vice-president Riek Machar, or modifying some of the provisions related to the participation of stakeholders in the negotiations.
In a communiqué released on 10 June, IGAD said both South Sudanese leaders had committed themselves to the formation of a transitional government of national unity within 60 days and ensure unhindered humanitarian support to affected people with immediate effect.
In his interview, Machar stressed on the need to address the root cause of the conflict, restructuring the state and a programme for national reconciliation and accountability.
He added that no government can be formed before to reach an agreement dealing with these matters.