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ADDIS ABABA - 19 Feb 2018

Rebels' top negotiator hopes 'win-win' from next peace talks

File photo: Henry Odwar
File photo: Henry Odwar

South Sudanese rebels' top negotiator at the peace talks with the government said Monday that he will do his best to produce an outcome that will be a "win-win" for the two sides to sign a peace deal in the next round of talks in Addis Ababa.

Henry Dilah Odwar, deputy chairman of the main armed opposition group led by the country’s former first vice president Riek Machar, told Radio Tamazuj that the peace talks should lead to a process of introducing far-reaching reforms in the country.

There should be a win-win situation in the next round of peace talks, Odwar said, adding that his group seeks to address the root causes that led to the ongoing civil war in the country.

“We will go back to Addis Ababa to resume the talks in the coming three to four weeks. We will make contacts with IGAD so that we move forward,” said Odwar.

The top rebel official lamented that the government delegation at the recently suspended peace talks had put hurdles in the path of any breakthrough.” We hope that we will reach a peace agreement in the coming round of talks. We don’t want to reach a stalemate again,” he said.

“The government delegation at the recent peace talks came with proposals that were not in the 2015 peace agreement,” he said.

Odwar said that their group wants to introduce ambitious military and economic reforms through the ongoing peace process.” “We want to address issues of tribalism in the military. We also want to address issues of corruption, so what we want is to make sure that the country goes in the right direction,” he said.

The opposition official pointed out that the recent peace talks ended without a peace agreement because the government said the armed opposition groups should be integrated into the army, police, prison, national security, wildlife and fire brigade services only without dressing the root causes of the conflict.

“We said that if the root causes of the conflict are not addressed, we cannot discuss the other issues. We said all the forces needs to be trained so that we get a nucleus for the country. We said all the counties should to be represented in the military so that we can have a neutral national army,” he said.

Odwar, who is a former lawmaker in Juba, emphasized the importance of peace and stability in South Sudan. “We have our proposal as members of the opposition coalition, but the important thing is to address the root causes of the conflict so that we don’t return to war,” he said.

The top rebel official reiterated his rebel movement’s commitment to observe the signed ceasefire truce until a final peace accord is signed.