August 19, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudanese rebels led by the former vice-president Riek Machar have accused the government delegation of boycotting the talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
- Rebel chief negotaitor,Taban Deng Gai, (C) talks to US envoy Donald Booth (R) during the opening ceremony of peace talks in Addis Ababa on 4 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Carl de Souza)
On Monday information minister and government delegation’s spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, announced on the state-owned SSTV that they would not participate in the talks unless the opposition faction agreed to sign a matrix on cessation of hostilities agreement before other issues are discussed.
“We told the mediation team that in the light of the rebel activities, it is important agreeing on implementation matrix of the cessation [of] hostilities agreement should be a priority. We asked for them (mediation team) to provide clear timetable so that fighting stops,” said minister Lueth.
Lueth further questioned the credibility of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in mediating the peace talks.
However, the opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-In-Opposition) led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, said they were ready for direct negotiations with the government on various substantial issues.
The chief negotiator for the rebel group, Taban Deng Gai, on Tuesday said they were ready to negotiate on their proposed positions with the government’s delegation.
Gai revealed that the rebel group proposed a democratic federal system of governance with a presidential system of transitional government in which the power-sharing ratios shall be 70% for the SPLM-In-Opposition, 20% for the government and 10% for other stakeholders. These ratios also apply to the federal, state and local government levels.
There shall be a pre-transitional period to prepare the grounds to setup a Transitional Federal Government of National Unity (TFGONU) in the Federal Republic of South Sudan.
Rebels say the duration of the pre-transitional period shall be one month from the date of signing of the peace agreement.
The pre-transitional arrangement shall commence within 72 hours of signing the peace Agreement to undertake the drafting of the transitional federal constitution and ratification of the peace agreement by SPLM/SPLA leadership council and national legislature as well as implement the permanent ceasefire.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY
The mandate of the federal government of national unity shall be to implement the peace agreement; oversee government functions during the Transitional Period; Implement Critical reforms as negotiated in the peace agreement; Conduct National Census and Elections; Permanent Constitution Making Process; National Reconciliation and Healing; and Repatriation, relief, resettlement, reintegration, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Returnees;
The rebels also proposed establishment of a Federal Development Bank to ensure and promote equity development across the country.
Issues of land management, ownership and administration were also tackled as well as various taxes at various levels of governance.
They said the coming development of South Sudan’s infrastructure, human resources, sustainable economic development and the capacity to meet the nation’s human needs shall be done within a viable framework of transparent and accountable government.
All areas of South Sudan in need of construction/reconstruction, they said, shall be brought up to the same average level of socio-economic and public services standard.
They proposed that special funds shall be established to build up the local institutional, human and economic capacity.
On oil revenue sharing percentages of distribution include 30% for states producing oil, federal government 30%, all states 15%, all counties 15%, equalization fund 5% and future generation fund 5%.
Rebels also proposed that the SPLM/SPLA and GRSS (SPLA) forces shall be restructured and shall have a new command structure. The forces shall be drawn from the ranks and files of the SPLM/SPLA, the GRSS (SPLA) forces, as well as from civilians.
They proposed that the SPLM/SPLA shall constitute 60%, GRSS 30% and 10% shall be recruits from the population of South Sudan.
The restructured army shall be called South Sudan Armed Forces (SSAF) and shall be a disciplined, regular, professional, patriotic, productive, non-partisan military force subordinate to civilian authority as established under the Transitional Federal Constitution of South Sudan.
Its mission in addition to other national duties shall be to protect the Peace Agreement; defend the Transitional Federal Constitution of the Federal Republic of South Sudan; protect the people of South Sudan; secure the territorial integrity of South Sudan; undertake responsibility for the defence of South Sudan against external threats and aggressions.
SSAF shall also involve in addressing specific emergencies, participate in reconstruction activities, and assist in disaster relief whenever directed by the TFGONU, this agreement and any other law in force in South Sudan.
The rebels in their proposal to restructure the security sector said they target an army of not more than 150,000 personnel that would take into account the national representation and character and shall be recruited from the SPLM-In-Opposition, SPLA and qualified civilians willing to join. The same thing applies to other security organs.
These reforms, they said, are in response to the dysfunctional security sector which is unable to provide security to the state and the people of South Sudan effectively under democratic principles.
They decried the current security sector, saying it has become a source of widespread insecurity due to unprofessional, discriminatory, and abusive policies or practices.
The rebels described the current security organs under president Kiir’s government as representing a decisive obstacle to the promotion of sustainable development, good governance, democracy, peace and rule of law.
The rebels’ chief negotiator also demanded full withdrawal of Ugandan army from the South Sudan soil.
A military spokesperson for the rebel group, Brig Lul Ruai Koang, on Tuesday issued a press release saying fresh fighting erupted in Central Equatoria state, the seat of president Salva Kiir’s government when internal revolt occurred within the government forces in Tore town, about 100kms south of the national capital, Juba.
He also claimed clashes also occurred within the capital, Juba, on Monday as forces from Bahr el Ghazal region were defecting.
“Government’s boycott of peace talks has led to escalation of the war on the ground as manifested by small arms fire which erupted in Juba on the night of 18th by soldiers deserting for Greater Bahr El Ghazal region and todays clashes among government soldiers deployed at Tore Military Barracks north of Yei town in Central Equatoria State,” Koang said in the statement seen by Sudan Tribune .
He said Kiir’s delegation failure to show up reaffirms “SPLM/SPLA‘s long held views” that the government was unfaithful and lacked political will.