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South Sudanese rival leaders urged to make proposals over outstanding issues

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June 28, 2015 (NAIROBI) – Positive steps have taken place in the Kenyan hosted consultative meetings between two top rival leaders in South Sudan when Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta provided room for further negotiations and called the parties to propose their respective position papers on the outstanding issues.

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Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

The initiative aims to relax a would-be imposed peace agreement floated by the mediators of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to end the 18-month conflict in South Sudan.

“Our leadership welcomes the positive initiative by President Uhuru Kenyatta which encourages the two leaders to propose position papers and negotiate on the outstanding issues in the IGAD-led peace process,” Machar’s spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said in a statement to the media.

Earlier statements to the media on Saturday said face-to-face talks between president Kiir and opposition leader, Machar, which Kenyan president hosted at the State House failed to bear any fruit due to refusal by president Kiir to accept IGAD peace proposal or recognize a new IGAD-Plus mediation mechanism.

Also the rebel leader demanded the need to incorporate issues of governance, reforms and compensation and reparation of victims of war, allegedly leading to the failure of the talks.

But the rebel leader’s spokesman said a positive step had taken place as the two leaders would now submit their proposed positions on the contentious issues for further negotiations and agreement.

He said president Kenyatta on Saturday’s meeting encouraged the two leaders to recommit themselves to the peace process and end the suffering of the people in the country.

Dak also said another follow-up meeting between opposition leader Machar and president Kenyatta took place on Sunday evening at the State House in which they discussed the importance of encouraging a negotiated settlement to the conflict instead of an imposed peace agreement.

“President Kenyatta, who is also rapporteur in the IGAD-mediated peace process, has asked the two leaders to propose and submit to his office in the next few days their respective position papers on the outstanding issues. This is a positive approach towards a negotiated settlement to the conflict,” he said.

The outstanding issues that needed further negotiations include, federalism as system of governance in the country; reforms on security, judiciary, economy and public service; compensation and reparation of victims of atrocities in Juba and beyond as well as power-sharing ratios that should include 7 states of the two other regions of Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria.

Any agreement between the two leaders under the auspices of the Kenyan president would be incorporated into the IGAD-Plus peace proposal while allowing for further negotiations on any other contentious issue once the talks resume in Addis Ababa around the third week of July.

The rebel spokesperson that the SPLM-IO leadership will work out or reproduce position paper on the contentious issues and submit it to the Kenyan president soon.

He reiterated that the opposition faction was committed to the IGAD-led peace process and also accepted the new IGAD-Plus mechanism under the regional body chaired by the Ethiopian prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, of which president Kenyatta is the rapporteur.

(ST)

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