Home | News    Sunday 5 January 2014

Direct talks between South Sudan rivals to commence Sunday


January 4, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA / JUBA) – Ethiopian officials said late on Saturday that face-to-face talks between South Sudan’s warring parties would begin on Sunday.

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Representatives of the government and opposition from South Sudan at the start of official peace talks in Addis Ababa, January 5, 2014 (Photo: Ethiopian Foreign Affairs ministry)

An observer, however, expressed fears of further delays in resumption direct talks with government and rebel forces fighting to take control of Bor, the capital of South Sudan’s largest and most populous state.

The two negotiating teams representing president Salva kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, currently staying at Addis Ababa’s Sheraton Hotel, were initially set for face-to-face discussions on 1 January.

The talks have, however, faced a series of delays as the government declined to accept some of Machar’s preconditions, which included the release of nine political prisoners and a mechanism put in place to monitor any ceasefire.

The head of the rebel negotiating team, Taban Deng Gai - a former Unity state governor who was sacked by Kiir last year - repeated the rebels preconditions on Saturday.

"We ask for the release of political detainees and free movement and political space for them to join us here" Gai said in Addis Ababa ahead of the direct talks.

So far the government has agreed to release eight of the 11 high profile members of the ruling party arrested after fighting broke out within the army on 15 December.

Kiir, who has accused Machar and others of attempting to overthrow him, has declared a state of emergency in Jonglei and Unity state where large parts of the army defected following reports that civilians were targeted on the basis of their ethnicity during fighting in Juba.

Former governor Gai and the others who have since rebelled against the government and those who opposed Kiir have denied that there was any attempted coup in Juba.

Gai demanded that the state of emergency be lifted in the two states of the country.

The government delegation, however, argued that they went to Addis to discuss ceasefire, not the release of the SPLM opposition leaders currently in jail.

Earlier on Saturday, rebel representatives told reporters that direct talks had been delayed until an agenda that would bridge their differences is set out by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediators and was accepted by both parties.

The IGAD is attempting to broker a deal to end weeks of conflict that has killed over 1,000 people and forced tens of thousands to flee their home.

The two sides have so far only held separate talks with IGAD mediators, who are trying to lay the ground for face-to-face talks.

Meanwhile heavy fighting has continued between the army and soldiers who have mutinied. Also government claims that the army is advancing to regain control of the capitals of Jonglei and Unity state - Bor and Bentiu respectively - have been strongly denied by the rebels.

Machar has claimed his forces are moving towards the capital Juba, a claim dismissed by the government.

The leader of the South Sudanese delegation, Nhial Deng Nhial, told Sudan Tribune that there were "no direct discussions" on Saturday, but added that his team had met with mediators.

He did not, however, say whether the mediators have set a time for face-to-face talks to commence.

Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the two sides have submitted their positions to the mediators.

After studying the positions of both sides, sources say, the chief mediator, Seyoum Mesfin - a former Ethiopian foreign minister - decided to bring the chief negotiators together to harmonise and streamline the agenda.

After an hour of discussions, Nhial and Gai decided to narrow the agenda to only cessation of hostilities, with other issues to be addressed after a ceasefire is reached.


Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission has welcomed the beginning of talks between delegation from both parties as advocated for by its Peace and Security Council (PSC) on 30 December and the IGAD summit of 27 December.

"Not a single day can be lost in the search for peace in South Sudan. Stopping the fighting in South Sudan is not only a humanitarian imperative, but also a strategic necessity, in order to halt the rapid descent of Africa’s newest nation into collapse", Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in a statement.

"An immediate end to hostilities and the beginning of political dialogue, in line with the relevant provisions of the PSC Communiqué of 30 December 2013, is not only Africa’s demand and that of the international community, but is also the plea of the people of South Sudan", it added.

Zuma urged leaders of South Sudan to abandon any attempt to seek military advantage prior to entering negotiations, and instead to declare a cessation of hostilities and engage in unconditional, inclusive and holistic political talks in good faith.


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  • 5 January 2014 05:36, by dinkdong

    That is going to be another chance for those called "mediators" to go and sit around and scratch their asses, not worrying about the civilians suffering from their stupid mess.

    repondre message

  • 5 January 2014 06:06, by Axios

    What’s there to talk about? You don’t see the U.S. negotiating with terrorists do you? No they crush them. These people have no interest in peace; that’s why they want Ugandan troops to withdraw from Juba for they plan on advancing in and causing mayhem.

    repondre message

    • 5 January 2014 06:24, by Mi diit

      The whole world now knows that you are weak people who only depend on others to fight for you. You cry for Ugandan troops to help you, yet some Nuer are fighting on your side. Gen. Hoth Mai first for you in Juba, Gen. Gony Biliu in Malakal and Gen. Bapiny in Unity state. But Juba will fall very SOON!

      repondre message

      • 5 January 2014 06:59, by Axios

        Mi diit

        Keep dreaming; the only thing those terrorists are marching towards is their death. As for your banter on weakness It’s called outsourcing; read about it.

        repondre message

  • 5 January 2014 07:23, by Dinka-Defender-General

    Nyandeng and her son are traitors of Dinkas people especially Bor community. They disgraced to Dinkas people. They are representing killer and greedy called Machar. Garang will be very sorry if he comes back today. They must be charge with crime against Dinkas and they must leave Dinka land to Nuer land. They are traitors and money lovers.

    repondre message

  • 5 January 2014 08:06, by Knight In Shining Armor

    Kiir’s delegation are not coming back to Juba except those who are neutral like Dr. Lam. the rest are going to seek refugee.In few days Juba will be under the forces of freedom fighters. Away with M7’s student of directorship and corruption. M7, you love to see South Sudan without strong leadership but, things are going to change very soon.

    repondre message

    • 5 January 2014 15:03, by axle

      Surely Knight or whatever your name is can see that this is a mere waste of people’s lives. Lets assume that the Nuer rebels capture Juba which in my opinion is impossible. What about the all the Dinka’s in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal, would they just sit back and watch Mr. Riak assume the presidency by use of arms? And what about the IGAD. You really think they’ll let this even get that far?

      repondre message

      • 5 January 2014 20:26, by Mi diit

        Do you know why Bahr el Ghazal region is quiet? They are being neutralized by the presence of large Nuer soldiers deployed there. Should they say something, their area will be devastated. When we capture Juba they will simply surrender or risk devastation. A playing field.

        repondre message

  • 5 January 2014 08:37, by Majongdit

    Mi Diit,
    It is you who drag us into Nuer-Dinka thing when many of us who are literate believe this is something political between Riek plus allies, most of them Dinkas against Kiir’s constitutional govt that also include Nuer members.

    repondre message

    • 5 January 2014 08:53, by Bentiu son

      Dear comrades,Salva Kiir n his genuine friend Museveni who killed hero Dr John Garang De Mabior are in messes,dilemmas n political limbos.Kiir’s genocidal regime is almost collapsing,soon his Presidential Palace n Luri Bridge in Juba will be storm strongly by our gallant pro -democracy forces under Dr Riek Machar Teny.We need Kiir alive or dead buddies for peaceful South Sudan otherwise bloodbath

      repondre message

      • 5 January 2014 15:17, by axle

        You know what Bentiu son, you’re the biggest joke on this forum spreading hatred and war mongering all the time. Please refrain from making senseless statements which reflect badly on the people of South Sudan. No matter his flaws, Kiir is an elected leader of South Sudan and Riak should have chosen the ballot as the only avenue to assuming the presidency. We’re not in the stone age anymore.

        repondre message

  • 5 January 2014 17:08, by Makuer Marou Manok

    fools who called themselves Nuer will not rule this country if they don’t stop the way they consider things. Nuer, even though educate to the point he does not do like human being, look how Riek acts he acts like an animal, an illiterate Jang can not be compared with PHD Holder of NUer, an illiterate Dinka can rule instead of being ruled by DR.animal (Nuer)who will lead the country into turmoil.

    repondre message

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