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ADDIS ABABA - 16 Feb 2018

South Sudan’s peace talks resume with little optimism

Peace negotiations aimed to end the ongoing civil war in South Sudan have resumed on Friday morning in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but with little hope to sign a final peace deal today as parties give divergent views in response to IGAD peace proposal and security arrangements.

A top official attending the peace talks told Radio Tamazuj this morning that the government delegation proposed that the incumbent unity government should be expanded only while the opposition says there should be clearly defined principles for the formation of the transitional government.

He pointed out that deliberations on power sharing ratios at the national and state levels were making a breakthrough very difficult.

Separately, members of the unity government who are part of the mini-committee on security arrangements said the armed opposition groups should be integrated into the army, police, prison, national security, wildlife and fire brigade services.

The government team, according to a draft document seen by Radio Tamazuj this morning, the unity government will form a high-level technical integration committee, including representatives from the warring parties within 45 days upon the signing of the agreement to set eligibility criteria for facilitating the integration processes of the warring parties into the army, national security, police, prison, fire brigade and wildlife services.

The government further said the integrated armed opposition groups (military forces and other security agencies) should be trained in the various services’ training centers and, thereafter, deployed to discharge their duties in accordance with the strategic plans of their respective services.

According to the government view in the document, security for personal protection of opposition leaders may be sourced from external forces if the parties require it, but should operate alongside, and cooperate with, the security forces of South Sudan.

They also pointed out that avoidance of conflict between the activities conducted by the security forces permitted to remain in Juba shall be conducted at a Joint Operations Centre (JOC), staffed by representatives from the national security forces and CTSAMM.

For its part, the opposition said security in Juba, state capitals and other major towns should be provided by the regional protection force and no other force should be deployed within 50 km of these towns.

According to the opposition view in the document, the redeployment of the forces that are in these towns should commence 30 days after signing the agreement and complete within 60 days, adding that the VIP protection should be provided by UNMISS police.

It pointed out that the federal and state police should be deployed alongside UNMISS and RPF. The opposition groups also proposed the establishment of community police recruited from the local communities at county level.

Meanwhile, a leading civil society group in South Sudan proposed that there should be initiated a process of nationwide civilian disarmament during the transitional period.

According to the draft document, the non-profit Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said the process should be undertaken at least 12 months before the end of the transitional period.

CEPO’s input was also support by other civil society organizations attending ongoing peace talks.