News / Africa

South Sudan Rivals Given 60 Days to Set Up Transition Government

South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreements in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 9, 2014. They signed yet another deal on June 10, 2014.
South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar (R) and President Salva Kiir (L) exchange signed peace agreements in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 9, 2014. They signed yet another deal on June 10, 2014.
Marthe van der Wolf, Lucy PoniJohn Tanza
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his rival in the country's six-month-old conflict, Riek Machar, have pledged at a summit of East African leaders in Addis Ababa to set up a transitional government within 60 days and to allow immediate, unhindered access to people in need.

"They agreed to complete the dialogue process within the coming 60 days on what, how,  when and who... to the formation of a transitional government of national unity," Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said after regional leaders brokered the latest deal for South Sudan at a closed-door meeting in the Ethiopian capital.

Talks mediated by East African bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will continue in the Ethiopian capital to hammer out details of the peace plan, which was signed just over a month after Mr. Kiir and Machar agreed in Addis to recommmit to a cessation of hostilities deal reached in January.

Several deals to end the fighting in South Sudan have been signed but none has been adhered to. As violence has ground on, the young country has fallen deeper and deeper into crisis, with more than a million people displaced from their homes, thousands feared dead, and aid agencies warning of potential famine.
It is high time that the warring parties hear the call of their people and the international communities to take the forthcoming political negotiation seriously and not to use it as a forum to advance partisan positions.

“It is high time that the warring parties will hear the call of their people and the international communities to take the forthcoming political negotiation seriously and not to use it as a forum to advance partisan positions and delay the final outcome to the talks,” African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Ismail Chergui said after the latest meeting in Addis Ababa.

In a statement released after the hours-long summit, IGAD applauded Mr. Kiir and Machar for signing what the regional bloc called the "landmark agreement" of May 9, saying the deal "provided the basis for negotiating a transitional government of national unity and committed them to ensure the inclusion of a broader range of South Sudanese stakeholders in peace negotiations."

IGAD 'disappointed' in warring sides

But the regional bloc also expressed deep disappointment at the failure of the two sides in the conflict in South Sudan to "honor their commitments to date, to engage the peace process meaningfully toward political resolution of the crisis and to bring an end to senseless killings."

Particularly regrettable were the "continued and flagrant violations" of three cessation of hostilities agreements, IGAD said.

IGAD, which has acted as mediator at peace talks for South Sudan that have been ongoing since January, vowed to "take further collective action to pressure any party who fails to honor its commitments to date or the resolutions of this Communiqué, including through imposition of punitive measures."

Government, opposition say 'committed to peace'

A spokesman for Mr. Kiir, Ateny Wek Ateny, said the South Sudanese government was committed to implementing the just-signed agreement, but went on to reject the call for inclusive peace talks.

"The government committed itself to the 9th of May agreement. But, you know, within 60 days there are a number of things that are supposed to happen including signing a permanent ceasefire and going for a comprehensive peace agreement.  So within two months, I think the government is ready to sign a peace agreement," Ateny said.

But, Ateny said, only the warring sides should be involved in peace talks "because it is not any stakeholder in South Sudan that is fighting," he said.

"On forming the transitional government, on a national dialogue constitutional conference, these are the things that you would want anybody to participate in, and the national dialogue constitutional conference is what the government would actually allow anyone to participate," he said.

Opposition spokesman Hussein Mar Nyuot said the opposition is "committed and ready to end the war and achieve peace."

"We are ever-ready.  Not only 60 days, even one week, we could actually finish if the government is really committed now to achieving peace in South Sudan, " he said.

But Mar Nyuot said the government has rejected some proposals put forward by the opposition at the peace talks, including cross-sector reforms in the government, a discussion on federalizing the government, and new parameters for a permanent constitution.

"This is what holds back the signing of the political framework -- the government doesn't want a federal system, they don't want reforms... they're just talking of the current constitution of the country, that should be the constitution," he said.
John Tanza speaks with opposition spokesman Hussein Mar Nyuot
John Tanza speaks with opposition spokesman Hussein Mar Nyuoti
|| 0:00:00

The two sides, which since December have put forward different versions of how the unrest began -- the opposition says it was sparked by an internal row in the ruling SPLM party and the government insists that an attempted coup, led by Machar, triggered the unrest --  also blamed each other for coninuing to violate the ceasefire agreements.
Lucy Poni speaks with Ateny Wek Ateny, spokesman for President Salva Kiir
Lucy Poni speaks with Ateny Wek Ateny, spokesman for President Salva Kiiri
|| 0:00:00
Lucy Poni reported from Nairobi, John Tanza is in Washington.

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Lisa from: Tx
June 12, 2014 8:49 AM
The war in south sudan, its no more Nuers or Dinkas, its about who want to lead the country in peace. And promote economic development. If you refuse to understand what is going on, i don't blem you but just stay stupid, because their is no law against studipity. Less move forward, talk peace. No more killing, jackass.

by: Jeffrey Ngueny Deng from: Akobo,South Sudan
June 12, 2014 3:48 AM
Leaving behind some opposition proposal will never solves our Crisis Issues why ignoring south sudanese view of federalism and leading Interim government ,I urgue those of IGAD to work hard and considered all proposals from both warring parties.

by: Bol from: Bor
June 12, 2014 3:21 AM
Did the factored in on how much money, they put aside to protect Riek Machar from the bullets of the angry South Sudanese people?
Those negotiators are very naive, their Riek Machar would eat bullets once he step his filthy feet into South Sudan soil trust me.

And his Nuers who worship him will rebel again, but few people who tired of Riek Machar don't give a damn; whether the Nuers rebel or not because it is in their blood. The Nuers have to be put into their right place in South Sudan, so that they can one day think twice before causing pains to others with trivial things.

It will be a disrespect to innocent South Sudanese killed by Riek Machar's addiction to useless armed rebellion. Riek Machar apology whether to Nyandeng or Kiir.

Bullets in his evil head and South Sudan will at least some sense of closure and peace. Even if the Nuers rebelled again, they must be disarmed by force.

by: Lisa from: Tx
June 12, 2014 1:07 AM
Ateny, i think south sudan government is not ready, they are worried because other stakeholder are not included. Come on south Sudan government, your playing with innocent lifes. It looks like you need more backups because you can't handle the truth.
Dr rieks people have been ready for peace from day one, and yes he is very ready. The government problem is the rejection of some proposal, which we all know that , their is need to reformation in the government, which splm rejected at the current talks, Discussion on the federal system, splm could not aspect, lastly splm don't want permanent constitution, now tell me is splm is ready for any change or to give a chance for peace. Am asking IGAD and any international communities who are helping to bring peace in south Sudan, if they care for thousands of lives in south Sudan. Let the country have the real election, yes kiir was elected because the country was still moning for its leader, and people say why not to put kiir in power. His second term is almost over without any development apart from death of thousands and millions displace in other counties, the opposition needs reform, the government rejected, the opposition is asking for federal system perhaps that will help with the regional development within each states, yes we do have oil in only two states and remember we still have other resources in the country. The country need permanent constitution where by some amendment can be made instead of changing constitution, Whenever the new government come in. This time kiir don't blem riek, but blem who is representing you. Mr kiir you have been in peace talks, you know better this time its not the same as north, but its your freedom and the freedom of south sudanese your families and friends, brothers and sisters being in peace. Do something i know you have been in peace talks with you. Remember this time no game its real, check your guys they might sale you, or set up. Just talk to riek one on one. Check and balance he is still your keeper and visa vie.

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