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South Sudan parties start final phase of peace talks

Sudan's Foreign Minister who is also the chief mediator El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed and IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais (L) launch the final phase of the revitalization process in Khartoum on 13 August 2018 (Photo Nuur Mahmoud Sheekh)

August 13, 2018 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - The IGAD mediation has formally launched in Khartoum the final phase of talks on the pending issues and the modalities of implementation of the revitalized peace agreement, as they have one week to finalize their discussions before the 19 of August.

According to the agenda seen by Sudan Tribune, the parties will discuss the Article 4 of the governance chapter on the number and boundaries of states, the creation of five new ministries and their clustering, judicial reforms, composition of National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC), roles and responsibilities of the presidency as well as any other business.

On 6 August, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) said they accepted to sign the agreement on the outstanding issues of governance on 5 August because their concerns about article 4 will be discussed in the final phase.

After a meeting with the IGAD mediators in Khartoum on Sunday, South Sudanese government spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth stated that the talks will commence by the outstanding issues and then they will move to the implementation matrix.

Once an agreement on the modalities of implementation is reached, it will be followed by the draft agreement that will be given to the parties for consideration before it goes to the Council of Ministers of IGAD.

According to Lueth, the discussions on the outstanding issues will deal with only two issues bracketed when the talks were in Ethiopia. The first issue is the composition of the judiciary reform committee and the second on the composition of the national constitutional amendment committee (NCAC).

"These are very minor issues because we only disagree on the composition. it is a question of figures only," stressed the information minister without mentioning the Article 4 of the governance deal.

Following his return from Khartoum on 6 August after the signing of the governance deal, President Salva Kiir said South Sudanese will not accept to review the 32 states.

The discussions on the implementation matrix will focus on the chapter one and chapter two, plus the review of any other chapters that are actually affected by the amendment of the two chapters.

The one-week talks will touch the power-sharing especially the other five ministries. But more important, the parties will discuss the powers, functions and duties of the President, the First Vice-President and the other four Vice-Presidents.

"These are new positions we have created and we need to revisit the competence," said the government spokesperson.

The IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais took part in the first meeting of the final phase of talks in Khartoum on Monday.

Also, the Kenyan experts took part in the meeting.

(ST)