Home | News    Monday 22 December 2014

S. Sudan peace talks adjourned again amid fears of further violence

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 21, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Peace negotiations aimed at ending the more than one-year-old conflict in South Sudan have been adjourned after making little progress on several key issues of contention.

Peace talks, which are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have been beset by repeated delays amid ongoing disagreements between the rival parties and so far failed to yield a lasting political settlement to the crisis.

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Face-to-face talks between the South Sudanese government and rebels get underway in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 13 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Carl De Souza)

However, at a news conference on Sunday, IGAD chief negotiator Seyoum Mesfin said the adjournment was due to the approaching Christmas and New Year holiday season and not because mediators were satisfied with the progress made by the warring parties.

Mesfin said the mediation team had also decided to adjourn the talks in order to strategise on a new plan to move forward.

“We have informed the leadership committee that this adjournment would probably be more vital for the mediation than the negotiating parties,” he said.

During the recess mediators will hold a summit involving IGAD leaders and partners who have committed to providing support for efforts to end the conflict in South Sudan.

The IGAD summit is expected to discuss a new direction for negotiations that will strengthen the peace process moving forward.

The latest round of peace talks between the South Sudanese government and the country’s rebel faction rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar opened on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The focus had been on advancing and implementing prior agreements between the two factions.

The two conflicting parties also held three committee meetings to discuss issues around leadership, security and resource sharing, as well as economic development, management of public finance and budgeting.

However, Mesfin said the sessions had made little headway.

“They have been trying their level best to move forward, but they could have done better,” he said.

“We are not satisfied, as they are not too,” he added.

PROGRESS MADE

The latest adjournment comes as the parties agreed to create 27 ministries with deputies. They also agreed to apportion 10% in a power-sharing arrangement with former detainees and other political parties in the country.

The parties also agreed to adopt a federal system of governance in the country by devolving more powers to state governments.

Economic reforms, including the need to develop renewable resources by investing petrodollars in the agricultural sector, were among the other items agreed.

OUTSTANDING ISSUES

However, little progress has been made on the most contentious issues, including governance, leadership structure, security arrangements and economic reforms, among others.

The parties have so far been unable to agree on power-sharing arrangements between the president and the prime minister. The opposition group wanted a leadership structure with an executive prime minister and an almost non-executive president, a move opposed by the government.

On economic sector reform, the parties could not agree on wealth-sharing arrangements, while the government remains vigorously opposed to the opposition’s demand that it disclose national debt levels.

“The rebels are asking for disclosure of the national debts, but our delegation say it is not part of the talks. They are also asking [for] reparations and compensations package for properties and lives lost during this conflict,” a government official at the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity told Sudan Tribune.

The rebel faction argues that full disclosure is necessary to devise strategies aimed at tackling debt levels.

“Of course it is important that the government should disclose the national debts. As would-be partners in a transitional government of national unity, it is important that we know how much the government has borrowed,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, told Sudan Tribune when contacted on Sunday.

“We want to know how much is the national debts and from where so that both parties as partners can agree on how to tackle them,” he said.

Dak said there is no viable reason for the government to refuse to disclose national debt unless it is hiding something “fishy”.

Rebels have accused the government of putting the future generation in danger by borrowing billions of dollars to finance the war, saying large amounts of money have ended up in the “pockets” of senior government officials at the expense of the welfare of South Sudanese people.

Meanwhile, the government has rejected a proposal for two separate armies during an interim period as put forward by the rebel group.

It had argued for arrangements for a permanent ceasefire to be restricted to the Greater Upper Nile region, while the opposition group had called for it to be extended across the entire country.

MILITARY ACTION

Mesfin said there are concerning reports that the two warring factions were preparing to take further military action on ground despite declaring the war over last month.

“This is happening after the two principals (Kiir and Machar) declaring to [an] IGAD summit last month on 7 November that they have covered enough agreement that would end the war and [that the] remaining outstanding issues were not enough cause to continue war,” he said.

Mesfin expressed dismay at the continued violations of a cessation of hostilities agreement signed by both parties in January and recommitted to in May.

He stressed that the Christmas and New Year season was a time to set aside political differences and to engage in peaceful and meaningful discussion to resolve the crisis.

“This is [the] Christmas season and we urge the warring parties to end the war as per their own commitment and pledge,” he said.

“War is not a gift that people of South Sudan expect from their leaders during this season; Loss of life and grief is not what they expect during this joy and family season,” he added.

APPEAL FOR PEACE

Mesfin also urged both sides to demonstrate a renewed commitment to resolving the crisis through peaceful dialogue, understanding and compromise.

Mediators have also appealed to the rival factions to refrain from launching further military action, warning that necessary measures would be imposed otherwise.

“The world must hold them with their own words that they must excuse the people of South Sudan and we hope they will realise that and this is the most opportune season to honour that agreement and commitment,” Mesfin said.

IGAD will announce a new timetable for the resumption of talks following the IGAD summit.

South Sudan has been embroiled in a violent armed struggle since mid-December last year following a political dispute in the country’s ruling party (SPLM).

The fighting has splintered the country along tribal lines and led to massive displacement and loss of life.

Tens of thousands of people are sheltering inside various UN compounds, while many more have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries.

The true death toll remains unknown.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 22 December 2014 07:07, by Lotodo Awino Odug

    I don’t blame Mr Musfin for procrastination, mediation is a big business as a profession.he rightly can govern this bunch of losers as long as they don’t know what they are doing to themselves, will haunt them at the end of the day.

    repondre message

    • 22 December 2014 10:48, by Johndumo14

      This guy Dr Riek before demands Salva kirr to step downd,
      and Uganda troops to withdraw,now he want to be PM with more power so he can steal the oil Money,and also he can apoint his tribe men to high gov.positions. I Wonder why he want more power from Salva Kiir?? If he Dr Riek wants more power or executive prime minister,it must comes from the people not from Addis Ababa.

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    • 22 December 2014 10:58, by Johndumo14

      Even if Dr Riek gets this position of executive prime minister,is he going to Work alone? Is he going to build the roads ,schools ,hospitals alone?? This man is stupid,he is an old man ,he has lost his way,power comes from the people,not through killing and ditructions of proferties.
      Look what he has done,at end of th day only the position of PM!We Appeal to Salva Kiir not to give him this powers

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    • 22 December 2014 11:07, by Johndumo14

      I hate this man since day one,even comes to elections I will never vote for him,some dinkas and other Equatorians join him simply because they are angrey with the system in Juba.This man Dr Riek is a lion in goat skine,even some of his tribe hate him,simply for what he did in 1991,he joined the enemy,if he didnt do that in 1991 ,people or SPLA would have put him the president of S.Sudan after DRJ

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    • 22 December 2014 11:17, by Johndumo14

      One tribe wants more power!! What about the other tribes?
      One tribe wants separate army ?? Salva kiir must be carefull in this position,because people are watching !!
      If the government is giving in more to rebels,one day another tribe will rebel and say we want separate state or
      army,people or the gov.must be carefull making Peace with Dr Riek!! Mundari or Lotuko in Torit will soon rebel,soon!

      repondre message

      • 22 December 2014 14:32, by Kenyang

        Johndumo,
        Many South Sudanese are carefully watching. No one wants to be seen as obstacle to peace. But same awardings of 1992 which insulted selfless heros while awarded Dr. Riek, a man who stabbed his people at back, a 3rd position in SPLA or later rendering him a country VP will be rejected. South Sudan is not Salva Kiir to award whoever with whatever he wants.

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        • 23 December 2014 03:39, by Kenyang

          Correction:

          "... awardings of 2002....."

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  • 22 December 2014 08:39, by Ajongtar

    For peace to prevail in South Sudan, both Kiir and Machar must die.

    Becouse even if there is a progress in the peace talks still the same people are the one going to run the government, it will still mean nothing to the people of South Sudan.

    repondre message

    • 22 December 2014 08:56, by Mayom County Boy

      thanks Mr Ajongtar for your wise comments
      you have made.
      with out some thing like death of those two guys peace will not come to Republic of South Sudan !!!!

      repondre message

      • 22 December 2014 09:22, by Bolman

        To J and M you all failed brothers, u are really misjudge the fact hw do u guys think negatively about the peaceful democracy man like DR Machar dared him to die with handful blood shedding criminal man like mr Kiir Mayardit who kills the thousand innocents Nuerlineage Civilian, u are wrongly with ugly thinking. But what I know Kiir must dy but Dr Machar will reforming Soutn Sudanese future long

        repondre message

      • 22 December 2014 09:23, by Bolman

        To J and M you all failed brothers, u are really misjudge the fact hw do u guys think negatively about the peaceful democracy man like DR Machar dared him to die with handful blood shedding criminal man like mr Kiir Mayardit who kills the thousand innocents Nuerlineage Civilian, u are wrongly with ugly thinking. But what I know Kiir must dy but Dr Machar will reforming Soutn Sudanese future long

        repondre message

        • 22 December 2014 09:35, by Bolman

          Long lives DR Machar long Freedom Fighters Kiir must die the same way he was killing his own voters dear God please take that criminal away from us and should lives in peace forever without Kiir Malong, Kuol, Magok, Gathoth, Riak Gach, Nguen mituel and others poppets please take them away in our faces and we should in forever without them God must power DR Machar by all mean.

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        • 22 December 2014 15:44, by Muorcienggok

          Bolman or whatever the hell you call yourself.Riek is not a Democratic man,he is a damn traitor,killer and a vulture with blood drifting from his hands.Democracy is not about dividing people along ethic line and targeted killing,neither is it about rebelling against your own people everytime.Never dare open your dingy mouth against Kiir,he is a patriot.Author:wen Kucbeny Wek.

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    • 23 December 2014 05:37, by Nyesi Ta

      The war b/n Jenge and the Nuer is a continuation of old stone age war. You savages have been in war among yourselves b4 Kiir and Riak were born. The best thing I would say to you is to rephrase your sentence to "for peace to prevail in South Sudan all the Jenge and the Nuer must die" or else there will be no peace. I can’t tell the difference b/n Kiir, Riak and Ajongtar, you are all savages, perio

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      • 23 December 2014 09:49, by Ajongtar

        ’Deke lo Nguti, Nyesita!!!!! whether you like it or not Kiir and Machar must die period. I am waging a campaign for thier Assasination, soon you will here that one of them is gone to hell.

        repondre message

        • 23 December 2014 15:42, by Nyesi Ta

          So what! Nguti koti kata ko ’deken. Collaterally, do a morju
          nguti kogwon ’deken na mama gboso ’deken na nguti nu. You should insult me, but not my mother because all of us have got mothers with vaginas through which all of us came from. I will always respect your mother, unfortunately she brought into this world a useless son/daughter who has no respect for his own mother. Respect urself my bro.

          repondre message

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