News / Africa

Opposition Threatens Boycott of South Sudan Talks

Rebel fighters hold their weapons as they march in a village in the rebel-controlled territory of Upper Nile state, South Sudan, Feb. 9, 2014.
Rebel fighters hold their weapons as they march in a village in the rebel-controlled territory of Upper Nile state, South Sudan, Feb. 9, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Marthe van der Wolf
— The second round of peace talks between South Sudanese rebels and the government is scheduled to open Tuesday in Ethiopia's capital. The rebels say that unless their demands are met, however, they will boycott the negotiations.
 
The East African regional bloc IGAD says this stage of talks will focus on a political process. But delegates for the rebels side are putting a hold on those plans. They said Monday they will not participate unless three demands are met: the withdrawal of government troops from a U.N. camp in Juba, the release of four political detainees the government has held since mid-December, and the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from South Sudan.
 
A spokesperson for the opposition, Yohanis Pouk, said they have no choice but to abstain. “We feel that they are not honoring all the agreements that we signed with them. And therefore we think that 'Let us first implement the agreement we signed, then we go to the second round.'”

South Sudanese RefugeesSouth Sudanese Refugees
x
South Sudanese Refugees
South Sudanese Refugees
New round

IGAD envoy and lead negotiator Seyoum Mesfin said the new round of talks will start regardless. “It does not reflect the preparations and the process that we are in. Because the launching of this second phase of the negotiations would be a reality and there is a commitment from all parties,” he said.
 
The two sides signed a pair of agreements in late January - one calling for a cessation of hostilities, the other dealing with the status of eleven political detainees. Since then, seven of the detainees have been released. Those seven have informed IGAD they will not take part in the talks, on either the side of the government or the rebels.
 
The presence of Ugandan troops fighting alongside South Sudanese government troops also has been an issue.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who also is chairman of IGAD, said IGAD supports Uganda for supporting a legitimate chosen government, though he also said the intervention of foreign troops can be worrisome.
 
“What worries IGAD so much is because of this intervention, the conflict might end up into regional conflict, because there are other interests also from other sides. And if everybody looks into specific countries national interest alone, then that will destabilize the whole regional because it becomes a regional conflict,” he said.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan in mid-December and has resulted in a bloody conflict that has left thousands dead and has displaced more than a half-million people.
 
The talks Tuesday are to begin by setting the agenda for the political process - if the talks begin at all.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid