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ADDIS ABABA - 23 Jun 2014

South Sudan peace talks in Addis postponed

Negotiations for peace in South Sudan have been adjourned after the SPLM/A-in-Opposition of Riek Machar continued to boycott a new round of talks in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. 

The SPLA-in-Opposition protested the manner by which the non-government participants were selected for talks. These include former detainees, political parties, civil society and faith-based organizations.

According to the rebel group, representatives should also have been invited from the opposition-held areas as well as those living in exile.

SPLA-Juba faction led by President Salva Kiir stopped several observers and participants from travelling to Addis Ababa by taking their passports at Juba airport before boarding, including Lam John Akuoi, reporter of Sky News Arabiya, Peter Abdelrahman Sule of the opposition UDF and two others allegedly sympathizing with the opposition. 

The IGAD mediation said in a press statement today that the talks are adjourned. The government delegation was expected to travel back in Juba on Monday afternoon, but their return was postponed for unknown reasons.

IGAD wanted for the first time to bring SPLM Leaders (Former Detainees), other political parties, civil society and faith based organizations to the negotiation table, alongside the SPLM/A-Juba and SPLM/A-in-Opposition.

The mediation says that the SPLM/A-in-Opposition failed to attend the multi-stakeholder roundtable negotiations. “This in contradiction to the agreements providing for the inclusion and participation of other stakeholders in the negotiations for a new political dispensation in South Sudan including arrangements for a transitional government of national unity,” the mediation pointed out.

During the adjournment, IGAD will consult with the African Union and United Nations Security Council, according ot the press statement. This comes after earlier this month the regional body threatened sanctions should either of the two sides stall the peace process.

“The stakeholders are also urged to prepare for the next phase of negotiations and engage substantively in order to meet the deadline endorsed by the IGAD Heads of State and Government to complete dialogue on the formation of a transitional government of national unity within sixty days,” IGAD stated in its press release.

Meanwhile, in the past few days, the first Ethiopian monitors have arrived in Juba for operationalization of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (MVM) to observe the ceasefire agreement.

File photo: Hailemariam Desalegn, IGAD Chairman and Prime Minister of Ethiopia