South Sudan peace talks showing little progress: officials

May 21, 2018 (ADDIS ABABA) – Little progress have been made on governance and power sharing at South Sudan’s high level peace talks mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Addis Ababa, religious leaders, opposition and government officials said.

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The High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) at the African Union Hall, Addis Ababa (Getty)

On Monday, delegates at the peace talks held a plenary session to listen to reports from the security and governance sub-committees.

The two reports were presented by religious leaders to IGAD mediators, regional and international partners overseeing the talks. The two documents contained detailed agreements on outstanding on governance issues and the transitional security arrangements.

Sub-committees on governance and security prepared these reports, which spelt out agreements to the principle of cantonment and a recommitment by the warring parties to the ceasefire accord.

South Sudan government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Leuth said the documents are expected to be signed and initialed on Tuesday.

“On security arrangements, people agreed on the cantonment, they have agreed on Article 2,” he told reporters after Monday’s session.

Makuei said the warring parties also agreed on the unification of the forces. However, the timeline for the process was not agreed upon.

No progress, according to the minister, has been made on power-sharing ratios and a government structure, which are key in the talks.

The parties also agreed to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement signed in December last year, the official further stressed.

The armed opposition spokesperson, Lam Paul Gabriel gave a slightly different version of what happened at the talks in Addis Abba, insisting the integration of forces was not agreed upon.

“[President] Salva Kiir in 2014 admitted that 70% of the SPLA [Sudan People’s Liberation Army] soldiers defected to Dr [Riek] Machar; so if integration is to take place, the balance from their 30% can be integrated to us and not the other way round,” Lam said.

“What was discussed was the unification of all the forces to form a well-balanced National army, not a tribal army?” he added.

The army opposition official, however, acknowledged that the timeframe for the unification was not unanimously agreed upon.

“Our delegates discussed 18 months and also 6 months. Both proposals have been forwarded to leadership for final deliberations,” said Lam.

He further added, “The cantonment was agreed upon but its scope needs more discussion”.

IGAD WARNS PARTIES

The regional bloc, on Saturday, vowed not to tolerate any further violation of the cessation of hostilities accord by the warring parties.

While opening the second high-level revitalization forum on South Sudan in Addis Ababa on Thursday, the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister and the current IGAD Council of Ministers chairperson, Workineh Gebeyehu called on all South Sudanese parties to reach to a consensus and to maintain the ceasefire by eliminating trust deficit to achieve peace and security in the country.

He further indicated that IGAD is ready to take actions against the two sides if they again attempt to violate the ceasefire agreement.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 when internal wrangles within its ruling party (SPLM) turned violent. The conflict, now in its fifth year, has displaced millions of people.

(ST)