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IGAD suspends South Sudan peace revitalization talks

February 16, 2018 (JUBA) - Peace talks between South Sudanese warring parties have been suspended on Friday after 11 days of discussions on the security and constitutional and governance matters without tangible progress.

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The opening session of the revitalization forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, December 18, 2017 (ST)

The parties shall reconvene after a short recess may be within a week as the mediation will prepare a new paper based on the different positions expressed on the different matters discussed during the second round of talks from 5 to 16 February.

In its position paper, the opposition groups demanded exclusion of President Salva Kiir from the transitional government, casting doubts on his commitment to the implementation of the signed agreement.

“President shall not lead the transitional government because of his successive violation of ARCSS (Agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan) and its eventual abrogation” announced the group, according to the position paper seen by Sudan Tribune.

The nine groups announced the demand which remains unclear how the mediation team would handle what government delegation described as a “non-starter”.

Despite all these demands, the Ethiopian State Minister of Foreign Affairs Hirut Zemene praised the positive spirit demonstrated during the past 11 days and expressed hope it would continue in the next session.

"A permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangement are needed to find a common ground for the finalization of a comprehensive agreement at the next phase of peace talks," Zemene added.

She pointed that the recess time should be used to overcome the outstanding issues to reach a lasting peace agreement.

However, Juba rejected the demand of opposition groups to evict President Kiir from power in the transitional period.

“They are just wasting their time and resources. That demand is a non-starter. They should not have thought of it if they did not intend to waste time and resources”, a presidential adviser on decentralization affairs and intergovernmental linkage told Sudan Tribune on Friday when reached to comment on the new development from the venue of the peace talks.

Tor Deng Mawien said government delegation went to adds Ababa, Ethiopia to participate in the revitalization of the peace agreement and not a new negotiation to decide on the leadership formation.

“Our delegation went to participate in the revitalization forum which was the agenda. It was not renegotiation. The revitalization does not mean renegotiation. What people are hearing is total nonsense. People are things which have nothing to do with revitalization,” said the angry presidential aide on Friday.

The 2015 peace agreement which the regional bloc is trying to revitalize recognize Salva Kiir the head of the government with Riek Machar as the first vice president but clashes at the presidential palace in July 2016 introduced new arrangement.

Taban Deng Gai, following the clashes which forced Machar to flee Juba, was hurriedly appointed as a new replacement, despite opposition rejection of the process.

The new IGAD proposal suggests the government takes 50% of the transitional government, while the other opposition groups would have 49%. There would be a President with four Vice Presidents overseeing clusters concerning Governance, the Economy, Infrastructure and one Vice President overseeing the Human Development and Social services cluster.

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly would be restructured and reconstituted to a house of 400 members including members from the 2010 southern Sudan, two former detainees while the balance of the members shall comprise of the incumbent representing – 55% and the opposition taking 45%.

The committee has also recommended for establishment of the security sector. The proposal is subject to amendment, changes, acceptance and rejection