August 2, 2014 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government delegation headed for the next round of talks are yet to leave for Ethiopia, raising fears of possible delays in negotiations set for Monday.
- The leader of South Sudan’s government delegation, Nhial Deng Nhial (L), signs a ceasefire agreement aimed at ending conflict in the country following negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 23 January 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Birahnu Sebsibe)
South Sudan’s government spokesperson, Michael Makuei earlier attributed the delays to logistical challenges and the long Muslim holidays, but hinted that the Juba delegation would leave by Friday.
Several government officials, however, claimed the team could not leave the country on time because the mediation team adjourned the talks at the request of the government for the annual Martyrs’ day celebrations. Others attributed the delay to lack of hard currencies required by the team from the country’s finance ministry.
“The cause of this delay is not unclear even to some of us in the government. The president had already asked the team to leave and so I don’t what else is holding them. May be it is the claims of lack of foreign exchange, which I do not accept, although this is what is being widely circulated,” a minister, who constitutes the team, told Sudan Tribune.
Observers, however, say the delay in the talks was political because no one would ever fund a project, which compromises his or her interests.
“We actually don’t the cause of this unnecessary delay of the resumption of the talks. We hear from the mediation that the talks were delayed because the government had made a request to push resumption so that they could take part in the celebration of the martyrs’ day which came after the end of Ramadan, holy month for Muslim,” said a Juba-based analyst.
“But delay to return [for the peace talks] after the two holidays is confusing and absurd to say the least,” he added.
Talks between the two rival parties, earmarked for 4 August, present the best possible remedy to end the nearly eight-month conflict in the new nation.