News / Africa

    The Swings and Roundabouts of South Sudan's Peace Talks

    South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and President Salva Kiir (L) exchange a signed recommitment to peace in Addis Ababa on May 9, 2014. The document is one of several that have been signed but failed to end the fighting.
    South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and President Salva Kiir (L) exchange a signed recommitment to peace in Addis Ababa on May 9, 2014. The document is one of several that have been signed but failed to end the fighting.

    From bilateral to multilateral and now back to bilateral – that’s how the peace talks for South Sudan seem to be shaping up in Addis Ababa.

    When the talks began in January this year, only representatives of Salva Kiir's government, Riek Machar’s rebels and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were at the negotiating table.  A few months later, IGAD and the warring sides agreed that the talks should include members of civil society groups, faith-based organizations, and opposition political parties and individuals.

    But more recently, the government and opposition have said they want the talks to be between them only.

    The leader of one of the South Sudanese opposition parties taking part in the talks says he thinks so, too.

    Joseph Ukel Abango, the head of the United Sudan African Party (USAP) told reporters on Tuesday that everyone, including IGAD, should take a back seat at the talks while the government and Machar’s opposition group sort out their differences and reach a deal to bring nearly nine months of conflict to an end.

    Other groups – including Abango's own party – should only contribute ideas, he said.

    "The principal parties are the government delegation and the SPLM/ SPLA in Opposition. USAP believes that there is no prospect for peace unless IGAD mediators become impartial and do not dictate the views of the principal parties," Abango said.

    "Political parties, former detainees, civil society and church-based organizations should adhere to an advisory role,” he said.

    Stakeholders put own interests first

    But he has not always thought that way.

    Early on in the peace process, USAP backed the idea of the talks involving numerous stakeholders, he told reporters.

    But, Abango said, several parties at what are currently multi-party talks are putting their own interests first, instead of focussing on ending the crisis.  

    “Stop the war, let us see what the solutions are that we should make. One of them is the formation of a government of national unity," Abango said.

    Only once the war has ended and the transitional government been set up should the many stakeholders who are currently at the negotiating table start thinking about what they want to get out of the peace process.

    Last week, IGAD adjourned the talks for two weeks to allow for consultations after both sides agreed to a blueprint for finally moving ahead with a ceasefire signed in January. Machar's side has denied signing the blueprint, referred to as a matrix.

    The peace talks have also been marred by one or the other main parties to the conflict not showing up, for any number of reasons. Most recently, the government boycotted the talks, accusing IGAD of favoring Machar's side.

    Last month, leading South Sudanese think tank, the SUDD institute, also said that confining the peace talks to the government and rebels would be the fastest way to end the crisis, which has already claimed thousands of lives, forced 1.7 million people from their homes, and pushed the country to the edge of famine. 

    IGAD officials were unavailable for comment.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora