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JUBA - 17 Feb 2018

Makuei: Rebels made impossible demands during peace talks

File photo: Information Minister Michael Makuei speaking to reporters in Juba. (Radio Tamazuj)
File photo: Information Minister Michael Makuei speaking to reporters in Juba. (Radio Tamazuj)

South Sudan’s government on Saturday claimed the peace talks mediated by regional leaders hit a deadlock after the opposition coalition made “impossible” demands.

The peace talks in the second phase of the revitalization forum in Addis Ababa between delegations aligned to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition groups stalled over governance and security arrangements on Friday.

Government representatives returned to Juba today morning.

Speaking to reporters in Juba, Michael Makuei, South Sudan’s Minister of Information blamed rebel negotiating teams of impeding the peace process by making impossible demands.

He further said the opposition groups created obstacles that prevented a deal from being reached on Friday. “The government delegation was not the problem and it will not be the problem. The opposition groups united themselves with one position and demanded the dissolution of all institutions of governance in South Sudan including the security organs and that is impossible,” he said.

“They are demanding that Salva Kiir and his government must go and this is an impossible position, so the problem is not with us,” he added.

Makuei, who is also the government spokesman, said the government was "serious" about securing an end to the fighting which has destroyed the world’s youngest nation.

He accused the opposition of trying to create statelessness. “The opposition groups are saying let’s dissolve the security organs and that the security should be taken over by UNMISS and RPF. What is it? We did not fight to hand over the government to others,” he said.

The government official reaffirmed vehement opposition to any negotiation on two armies at the revitalization forum. “We are not for two armies because experience has shown in J1 the impact of having two armies, so we are not for two armies, even the opposition is not also for creation of two armies,” he said.

Makuei noted that they rejected a proposal by the East African regional bloc IGAD to allow the president appoint four vice presidents for inclusivity in the government. “We have not agreed on the governance and the system of governance. The government is saying we are maintaining the status quo and we are creating positions in the second layer, and that is the positions of presidential assistants,” he said.

“The opposition also talked of establishment of office of prime minister who will be an executive prime minister. This is a system which is alien to us and we are not for it, “he said.

 Makuei confirmed that the government delegation objected to a clause in the declaration of principles calling for punitive measures against spoilers of the peace process. “This article was brought from outside. It was brought by Americans to be specific, by the Troika and the European Union. We are not for that provision and we are not ready to license anybody so that he can do whatever he wants to do,” he said.

The information minister urged the people of South Sudan to be patient as the government and opposition groups negotiate to bring about peace in South Sudan. “The people of South Sudan should not get angry. People should be patient because peace is coming soon,” he said.