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Ethiopia’s PM calls to endorse IGAD Bridging Proposal for peace in South Sudan

June 21, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Thursday has rejected the positions of South Sudanese rival leaders over peace implementations and backed the endorsement by the IGAD heads of states and governments for the Final Bridging Proposal.

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Photo AFP)

“Now is the time, time for promises is over and time is not in our side,” said Abiy Ahmed who is also the IGAD Chairperson who was speaking before the 32nd extra-ordinary meeting of IGAD heads of state and government on Thursday evening in Addis Ababa.

“There is no shortage of ideas on how to resolve this tragic humanitarian crisis, the challenge is unwilling and uncommitted”, he further stressed.

The IGAD leaders are gathered to discuss and eventually endorse the outcome of a meeting held by the IGAD Council of Ministers which on early Thursday decided to recommend the adoption of the Final Bridging Proposal as a basis of the peace revitalization agreement.

The Final Bridging Proposal is forged by the mediation following a three-day Intensive Interlinked Consultation (IIC) to reach a consensus on the outstanding governance and security arrangements issues.

The proposal includes provides to create a third vice-president position; increase the cabinet to 42 ministers and 15 deputy ministers; revised responsibility-sharing formula in the cabinet at national and state levels to 55%, for the government, 25% for the SPLM-IO and 20% for the other opposition entities (FDs, OPP and SSOA). Also, it guarantees 35% for women’s participation in the different institutions of the transitional government, including a female vice-president and deputy-speaker.

Abiy stressed that the suffering of South Sudanese should come to an end quickly.

“To achieve this goal, we cannot work like business as usual. Each second and each minute that passes with business, as usual, is miss opportunity to save the lives,” he underlined.

On Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister reportedly was very disappointed by the outcome of the face-to-face meeting. He expected they discuss ways to overcome the three outstanding issues related to the power-sharing chapter in the peace agreement.

Instead, the two leaders spoke about July 2016 clashes and their respective responsibilities, and Kiir advised Machar to not claiming the position of the First Vice President for himself but to appoint another member from his group.

Also, Machar in a statement released Thursday criticized the mediation and stressed the need to hold a new comprehensive process according to the model of the mediation that brokered the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 that led to the secession of South Sudan.

The summit of the IGAD leaders, was also, attended by the SPLM-Io leader Machar and the other South Sudanese opposition leaders. President Kiir and Machar shaked hands in the meeting room as the attendees applauded them.

During the meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers on Thursday morning, the Ethiopian State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene, commended the South Sudanese government and SPLM-IO for agreeing that the two-army approach is no longer viable to ensure a lasting and reliable security in South Sudan.

While the Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa called to take punitive measures on individuals who obstruct the implementation of the peace process.

The South Sudanese Opposition Alliance has rejected the final proposal and pointed an accusing finger to the mediation saying it glossed over their positions and only considered the government’s proposals for the resolution of governance and security arrangements issues.