News / Africa

    South Sudan Peace Process Stalls

    Opposition negotiator Hussein Mar Nyuot, shown here at January peace talks for South Sudan, says the opposition is boycotting the latest round of talks until IGAD responds to a request that the negotiations be more inclusive. Opposition negotiator Hussein Mar Nyuot, shown here at January peace talks for South Sudan, says the opposition is boycotting the latest round of talks until IGAD responds to a request that the negotiations be more inclusive.
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    Opposition negotiator Hussein Mar Nyuot, shown here at January peace talks for South Sudan, says the opposition is boycotting the latest round of talks until IGAD responds to a request that the negotiations be more inclusive.
    Opposition negotiator Hussein Mar Nyuot, shown here at January peace talks for South Sudan, says the opposition is boycotting the latest round of talks until IGAD responds to a request that the negotiations be more inclusive.
    Lucy Poni
    South Sudan's stumbling peace process hit another bump in its rocky road Friday when the opposition refused to take part in the latest round of peace talks, saying their demands to make the negotiations more inclusive have been ignored by the mediators.

    Opposition spokesman Hussein Mar Nyuot said his side did not attend the opening session of the talks in Addis Ababa Friday because a demand they lodged last week with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) -- asking that stakeholder groups that have fled the country or are based outside Juba be allowed to take part in the talks -- has gone unanswered.

    “Unfortunately, we have not received any response to our letter and surprisingly we were just told yesterday that you just go to the hall and we are opening tomorrow and that’s all," Mar Nyuot said.

    "They have not actually responded to us ... We are waiting.  We are saying our participation is conditional with this, that we need to hear from IGAD concerning inclusivity,” he said.

    Most of the civil society groups in Addis Ababa for the talks are organizations that have remained in Juba during the six months of unrest, Mar Nyuot said.

    Opposition leader Riek Machar said in an interview with South Sudan in Focus this week that the groups that are present at the talks "probably are pro-government."

    Presidential Spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said it was unfortunate that the talks have stalled yet again. He said the delay was a ploy by the opposition to grab attention.
     
    “If the rebels are threatening to pull from the peace talks, it is unfortunate and it is the IGAD mediators to be able to see how they can deal with such behaviors," Ateny said, adding "maybe this is another attention-seeking ploy." 

    Ateny said that government delegates will remain at the talks as IGAD figures out what to do next. Mar Nyuot said opposition delegates will return to the negotiating table in Addis as soon as their demands are met.

    But the opposition spokesman also warned that the latest postponement of the talks could mean that a 60-day deadline agreed to last week for setting up a transitional government for South Sudan might not be met. 


    Latest of many obstacles


    The delay to the talks is just one of many bumps on the road to peace in South Sudan.

    The latest round of peace negotiations was supposed to start Monday, but was postponed after an IGAD official reportedly said President Salva Kiir and Machar were stupid if they thought they can win the conflict on the battlefield. 

    The government said it would not return to the negotiating table until it had an apology for the statement while Machar called the remark unfortunate but said it shouldn't prevent the peace talks from moving forward.

    His main gripe was with the lack of inclusivity at the talks, Machar said. 

    The first agreement to lay down arms and stop the fighting in South Sudan was signed in January, but like the agreements that have come since then, it was violated before the ink was dry.
     
    South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 9, 2014.
    South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreement documents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 9, 2014.
    Under the terms of yet another agreement signed last week, Mr. Kiir and Machar agreed to set up a transitional government within 60 days.

    But in a speech to South Sudan's National Assembly on Thursday, Kiir said he would only agree to the creation of an interim government if he were to be head of it.

    Meanwhile, 1.5 million South Sudanese have been displaced by the conflict, a cholera outbreak in Juba has claimed dozens of lives, and the international community and aid agencies are warning that famine could hit the young nation, where more than seven million people are at risk of hunger and disease.
    Matthew Buru, 4, undergoes intravenous treatment for cholera at a Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Gudele, near Juba, South Sudan. The Health Ministry declared a cholera outbreak in Juba on May 15, 2014.
    Matthew Buru, 4, undergoes intravenous treatment for cholera at a Doctors Without Borders treatment center in Gudele, near Juba, South Sudan. The Health Ministry declared a cholera outbreak in Juba on May 15, 2014.
    U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, on Monday repeated a call for South Sudan's leaders to put their words into action and show that they mean business with the signing of yet another agreement to stop fighting and ensure that help reaches people who need it.

    And in a letter sent last week to Mr. Kiir and Machar, 14 African elder statesmen, including South African Nobel laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, demanded an immediate end to the violence. 

    "Over half of South Sudan’s population is at risk of starvation and 223,000 children are at risk of acute malnutrition. 50,000 of these children may not survive. The people of South Sudan need peace and security now, not more war!" the letter said.  

     
    Karin Zeitvogel contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Nyakor from: US
    June 22, 2014 6:49 PM
    I cannot believe the government of South Sudan have postponed the peace neogotiation because they want an apology from the IGAD for the simple word "stupid". This word in my opinion fits well according to the life that South Sudan is in. For example, they have a famine and people are dying because of diseases, shooting everywhere while the government themselves brought this situation by killing civilians in Juba. I think the government should apologize to the people of the country instead of the simple word "stupid". When you see a situation likes this, it forces you to say a word you never meant to say. Asking the IGAD for an apology is dumb. The problem has overwhelmed them because they are working on a situation that they don't know when it will end. Please get rid of your stubborness. Simply humble yourself and bring peace to this nation.

    by: Lisa from: Tx
    June 21, 2014 12:39 AM
    This time i prefer opposition, the reason from the being splm brought its tricks by collecting its supporters through different organization like civil society, which is pure splm, but pretended to be from different sectors. Most the of opposition within the country could not ID themselves because of the fear of the kiirs government . Second , most of the opposition are either in surounded areas or in south Sudan. they fear about their families lifes. By the way who is controlling IGAD ? If its another countries, then the Ethiopian government have to follow its boss, which also sound like most of the counties in IGAD are contributing to south Sudan war, because of their interests. That is why they could not respond to the opposition demand. But if the Ethiopian government is a sign to bring peace through peaceful resettlement, then they should act for the sake of the dying generation of south Sudan. if they care about humanity. And put behind their your self interest and allow the opposition damend. I don't see the reason of IGAD running around while people are dying. This might be another excuses of protecting splm, or your turning a game of studipity to play tricks. the way splm rejected to attent IGAD. Unless you say sorry,

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