South Sudan peace talks kick off despite government boycott

Hentet fra Sudan Tribune | Ingen journalist kreditert

February 5, 2018 (JUBA)- The second phase of the IGAD-brokered South Sudanese peace talks have resumed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, despite a boycott by the government delegation demanding more representation.

The Second Phase of High-Level Revitalization Forum was launched Monday after the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement poorly enforced by the warring parties. So the deal which was designed as a confidence-building measure contributed to further deteriorate the conducive environment before the talks.

Multiple sources participating in the discussions told Sudan Tribune from the venue of the talks in Addis Ababa on Monday that the mediation team launched the process after rejecting the «procrastination» of the government.

“We were called into the meeting hall only to realize that the government delegation was not present. We inquired from the mediation team and we were told the government delegation was demanding more representation,” said the source.

Also, a member of the government delegation separately confirmed the boycott, arguing that there is a need for all the members of the government delegation to take part in the process because every member has a role to play.

He said the IGAD gave the government team only 12 seats.

«We asked for acceptance as we came because each and every member of the delegation has a mission for whom he was selected by the government to come,” a government official told Sudan Tribune from Addis Ababa.

The official expressed optimism that the impasse would be resolved and the team will participate.

The second phase will discuss the implementation of a permanent cease-fire which is part of the peace agreement, elaborate a revised and realistic timeline and a schedule towards general elections in the country at the end of the interim period.

Speaking at the opening session, the head of the IGAD Council of Ministers Workineh Gebeyehu urged the parties to reach a political deal and to observe the cessation of hostilities adding «It is your very last chance».

The African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the participants to have the needed seriousness and courage to shoulder their responsibility at this critical juncture in the history of their country.

“The commitment that had been made has never been honoured. Hardly the ink [on the cessation of hostilities agreement] had dried that clashes erupted in numerous parts of the country,” he stressed.

For his part, IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ismail Wais, urged the parties to desist from ceasefire violations. Further, he pointed that the AU, IGAD, and the United Nations have already condemned the ceasefire breaches and warned that the spoilers and violators will face sanctions.

«In that regard, the region and the international community are ready to take punitive measures against individuals and organizations that have been verified as violators of this Agreement. These aren’t empty threats,» he said.