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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs