August 11, 2014 (JUBA) – The ongoing peace talks between South Sudan government and its opposition forces have been adjourned ahead of Tuesday’s visit to the new nation by member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
- UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon briefs the SEcurity Council on his visit to South Sudan in May 2014 to sound the alarm about the violence and the risk of catastrophic famine (Photo: UN//Devra Berkowitz)
“[The] meeting [between government rebels] which is supposed to be tomorrow [Tuesday] has been postponed,” information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth told Eye Radio on Monday.
He said government chief negotiator at the talks was headed to the capital, Juba early Tuesday “to brief the president on the development on the peace talks and our government position.”
“When the delegations from [UN] Security Council arrive in Juba, they should know what is happening”, stressed Lueth.
Talks between the two parties got underway last week, but was temporarily halted after the opposition demanded that negotiations be conducted without other stakeholders.
Mediators from the East African regional bloc (IGAD) eventually headed to opposition demands as bilateral talks resumed Saturday.
Meanwhile, security has reportedly been intensified head of the visit by members of the UNSC to a country where violence has killed thousands and displaced nearly 1.5 million people since its outbreak late last year.
"We have already directed all units as early as last week to be extra vigilant and conduct checkpoints. We again issued directive for the conduct of checkpoints, bus boarding, ocular inspection of the baggage," Lt. Col. Kon John Akot, the head of South Sudan Central Equatoria state traffic police, told reporters on Monday.
"We also directed commanders and units to coordinate with the bus operators and possibly come up with security measures like boarding of buses and inspection of the baggage because only the passengers are checked," he added.
Ellen Margretthe Loj, who was recently appointed as head of the UN mission in South Sudan, will accompany the UNSC delegation.
CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN ACCESS
Oxfam’s country director, Tariq Riebl said the visit of the UNSC members to South Sudan provides an opportunity to step up efforts to bring an end to the conflict, push for a lasting ceasefire, ensure humanitarian assistance reaches communities and that a foundation was built for the durable peace this country so urgently needs.
"While a lasting peace is negotiated, the protection of civilians should continue to be prioritized by the new UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). This should include improving conditions and increasing safety and security inside PoC [protection of civilian] sites, increased patrols to ensure the safety of civilians outside of the UN bases, and continued support for those who do not yet feel it is safe enough to go home", Riebl said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
"In addition, we remain concerned by obstacles to humanitarian access throughout South Sudan, including threats to humanitarian workers, as so tragically seen last week with the killing of five NGO staff in Maban", he added.
For aid to reach people in need, Riebl further stressed, "all parties to the conflict must allow food and other assistance to reach people safely and quickly.”