By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 1, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Two South Sudanese youth organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday, agreeing to jointly engage in collective efforts to overthrow the government.
The National Youth Union (NYU) and Greater Equatoria Youth Leadership (GEYL), which are based in Ethiopia and South Sudan respectively, said they would support the leadership of the country’s rebel faction, known as the SPLM/A in Opposition, in its efforts to realise the aspirations of the South Sudanese people and achieve sustainable peace and development in the future.
South Sudan has been mired in conflict since mid-December last year when a political split emerged in the ruling SPLM, sparking violence across the country and reigniting tribal tensions.
The fighting has pitted government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir against rebels aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar, who was sacked last July and now heads the opposition faction.
The two youth organisations said it’s hoped the agreement would lead to the wider mobilisation off youth across the country and the full participation of a youth coalition to realise the formation of a federal democratic system of governance in the young East African nation.
“The MOU is to mobilise our youth across the country and – especially in Equatoria – to speed up the dismantling of [the] Salva [Kiir] regime,” NYU president Steven Riek Deng told Sudan Tribune.
He said the two youth organisations would work as a united front towards ensuring freedom, equality, justice and federal democracy.
Under the MOU, the two parties will form a body, to be known as the Joint Coordination Committees, which will comprise of five key structures. These will include the committee of information and public relations, committee for political mobilisation, diplomatic campaign committee, security and protection committee, as well as the finances and resources mobilisation committee.
Deng said the initial five-year agreement and its extension will be officially ratified by the two parties.
SOUTH SUDAN PEACE TALKS
Meanwhile, a new round of peace talks between South Sudan’s warring parties is due to resume on Monday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The talks, which are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have been hampered by repeated delays and have so far been unable to halt hostilities on the ground.
The fifth round of negotiations between the South Sudanese government and rebel faction had been due to resume on Wednesday, but were delayed for an undisclosed reason.
However, IGAD attributed the delay to the Islamic Eid el-Fitr holiday and South Sudan’s National Martyrs’ Day celebrations.
Former political detainees, as well as civil society and faith-based organisations, are also expected to join the government and rebel delegations at the latest round of talks.
“The session’s key agenda will be to finalise and sign the cessation of hostilities matrix and negotiations on details of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU),” said IGAD in a statement.
However, political analysts have questioned the regional bloc’s capacity in handle the mediation process given the slow pace of talks and the failure to deliver a lasting political settlement to the crisis.
The conflict has devastated the lives of tens and thousands of people in South Sudan.
According to UN, the violence has claimed the lives of over 20,000 people and uprooted more than a million from their homes.