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South Sudan Peace Talks Collapse - Again

  • John Tanza

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei blames the collapse of the latest round of peace talks for the young country on the rebel side, which he says has reneged on an agreement reached earlier.

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei blames the collapse of the latest round of peace talks for the young country on the rebel side, which he says has reneged on an agreement reached earlier.

The latest round of IGAD-brokered peace talks for South Sudan have collapsed, Information Minister Michael Makuei said Monday, blaming the rebel side for the talks' failure.

"Yesterday... the rebels reneged completely from all we had agreed" at an earlier round of talks, Makuei told South Sudan in Focus.

"The mediators have decided to adjourn this session so that they can conduct further consultations on some of the issues that erupted in this last session," he said.

The government wants to reach an agreement in the shortest possible period, but there is no way the government can reach peace alone, without the other party.

Makuei said that when the latest round of talks began, the two sides agreed on several key issues that should have paved the way to a final peace deal. Among them, he said, was that the transitional government that is being set up to steer South Sudan from violence to peace would have 27 ministries.

The information minister insisted the rebels, not the government, are standing in the way of peace.

The main objective is to get peace, a reliable peace, a durable peace that will not take us back to war.

"It is not the government which is obstructing the peace, it is not the government which is delaying the process. The government wants to reach an agreement in the shortest possible period, but there is no way the government can reach peace alone, without the other party," he said.

Last month, Makuei dismissed a proposal presented at a summit meeting of East African leaders, that President Salva Kiir should share power with rebel leader Riek Machar in a transitional government.

But on Monday, he said the government was willing to compromise if doing so would allow peace to be restored in South Sudan.

"This is why we have created the position of prime minister," which would be filled by Machar, Makuei said.

"This is why we have agreed to create more positions so that we accommodate those who want power," he said. The government has said the ongoing unrest was triggered by a failed coup bid, masterminded by Machar.

"The objective of the government is not positions; it's peace. We are ready to buy peace at any expense," he said.

Peace talks near 1-year anniversary

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is brokering the peace talks for South Sudan, which began nearly a year ago.

Makuei said that if more time is needed to reach a lasting peace deal for South Sudan, "We can continue to talk for a year. We can continue to talk for more."

"The main objective is to get peace, a reliable peace, a durable peace that will not take us back to war," he said.

Although no death toll has been released for the conflict in South Sudan, U.N. officials said soon after violence erupted on Dec. 15 last year that at least 10,000 people had been killed. Another 1.8 million have been forced from their homes, more than half a million of whom have fled to neighboring countries.

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