August 3, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has urged the government delegation headed for peace talks with the rebel faction in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to prioritise peace in order to demonstrate his administration’s commitment to end the nearly eight-month-long conflict.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has dispatched a four-member political delegation for talks with the group of seven senior SPLM officials in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa (AP)
The country’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, told reporters in the capital, Juba, that the delegation is returning to the venue of peace talks with clear instructions from the president to negotiate with seriousness so as to restore peace to the young nation.
“We are going to Addis with full commitment to negotiate with all the stakeholders so that we come back with peace. You know that the president has instructed that we go and come back with peace this time because this is what our people want,” he said on Sunday.
Lueth, who is also the government spokesperson, further stressed that the government delegation’s return to the negotiating table demonstrates its commitment to end the conflict.
“Our going back is in line with the commitment of the government to the objective and principle of continuous dialogue as the best way to end this conflict,” he said.
“We will continue to dialogue with the rebels and the other stakeholders, but the success is contingent on the commitment of the other groups,” he added.
Initial reports suggested that the South Sudanese delegation had failed to leave Juba due to logistical challenges, raising fears of further possible delays in the process earmarked to commence this Monday.
Analysts and observers have argued that ongoing negotiations are the best way of ending the ongoing conflict, which has killed thousands and displaced nearly 1.5 million people, with hundreds of thousands also fleeing to neighbouring countries.
The protracted peace process, which is being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has been hampered by ongoing delays, with the East African bloc criticised for failing to achieve a binding political settlement to end the crisis.
Government troops and rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar have been locked in an armed struggle since mid-December last year after a political split in the ruling SPLM turned violent.
A ceasefire deal brokered by IGAD in January and recommitted to by the rival leaders has failed to curb ongoing violence on the ground, with both sides accusing each other of committing abuses and prolonging the conflict.