News / Africa

South Sudan Peace Talks Postponed Over Off-Color Comment

FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) hold a priest's hands before signing an earlier peace agreement in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014.
FILE - South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (L) hold a priest's hands before signing an earlier peace agreement in Addis Ababa May 9, 2014.
Philip Aleu
The latest round of peace talks for South Sudan was delayed Tuesday after the government objected to President Salva Kiir and opposition chief Riek Machar being called "stupid" by an official from the bloc mediating the talks, and the opposition said the negotiations were not inclusive enough.

South Sudan Foreign Affairs Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin urged Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to take action against Mahboub Maalim, the executive secretary of IGAD, which is brokering the talks, after he was quoted in media reports as calling Mr. Kiir and Machar "stupid" for thinking they can win the months-long conflict in South Sudan on the battlefield.

Mr. Kiir's spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, said IGAD must apologize "because it was clear that Mahboub has insulted the principals."

"There is no need for such a low-ranking official to insult the head of state. Even if he was the president of IGAD, he cannot equate himself with the head of the state because IGAD comprises of countries that are sovereign... whoever works with IGAD must respect heads of state,” he said.

Wek said another reason the talks were delayed is because opposition delegates did not arrive on time. The latest round of talks was supposed to begin on Monday.

Opposition spokesman Hussein Mar Nyuot said the opposition was also angered by the off-color statement made by Maalim, but said the main reason the opposition boycotted the talks was because they felt they were not fully inclusive.
"So many voices are not represented here," Mar Nyuot  said.

"The civil society which are supposed to be here, the voices of the victims, other political parties that actually fled the country and all these people are not represented in this. We want all the stakeholders of South Sudan to attend these peace talks so that we could actually reach a durable peace," he said.

Mar Nyuot said the opposition would be willing to let the talks go ahead once their concerns have been addressed. He said his side is reviewing new proposals from the mediators and will reach a decision soon.

Wek said the government is not pulling out of the talks but wants IGAD officials to act responsibly.
“We don’t want to continue fighting. So we don’t have any alternative to negotiating a peace settlement ...  but at the same time, we shouldn’t be taken for granted," he said.

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Comment Sorting
by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
June 19, 2014 12:33 AM
Mr. Kiir thinks that a head of state cannot be called "stupid". Well Mr. President I strongly believe that leaders who murder,rape and plunder their own people in the name of tribe are narrow-minded morons.

by: Lisa from: Tx
June 18, 2014 1:42 AM
Well done IGAD, i once said their is no law against studipity, so why splm are mad? IGAD guys are tried of splm tricks. Why the opposition are not mad, about the statement from IGAD? instead they are saying that the country is not well represented, because if you look at this talk clearly all civil society are splm. Is that commonsense or studipity on behalf of the opposition ? Look now who is studip, and who want peaceful resettlement in the country ?. By the way we all know that this stupid war started by kiir government, so be studip splm now every body know that south Sudan government are ful of idiots.

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