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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More