NAIROBI — The 14-member opposition team attending South Sudan peace talks in Addis Ababa said Thursday it was caught off-guard when the government showed up in the Ethiopian capital with more than 100 delegates ahead of the next round of discussions next week.
"The government came with a huge delegation comprising of the main government delegation, about 38 from other political parties and about 24 from civil society," opposition spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said.
"All those are affiliated to the government in one way or the other. And all these people were selected without our prior knowledge and we were not given the same opportunity,” he said.
The opposition complained about the imbalance and threatened to indefinitely postpone the peace talks.
It withdrew the threat when the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is organizing the talks, agreed to let more opposition delegates attend.
South Sudanese presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the scores of delegates in Addis Ababa were there for a symposium that is taking place ahead of the talks.
IGAD said the three-day symposium, which began Thursday at African Union headquarters, is bringing together representatives of South Sudanese civil society, the government and opposition, political actors, faith-based groups, and traditional leaders.
The symposium comes four weeks after President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar signed an agreement in the Ethiopian capital to end months of fighting and seek a political solution that includes all players, not just the warring parties, to the crisis in South Sudan.