South Sudan’s information minister called on the representatives of the rebels fighting the government in Juba to negotiate in good faith and ensure peace is restored to citizens as the next phase of peace talks is set to begin this week in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Michael Makuei said the rebels have yet to make any concessions since the beginning of peace negotiations to end over seven months of South Sudan’s conflict.
“The government [has] made so many concessions to the extent that it has now we have almost reached a stage of saturation, whereby we will not be in a position to give any further concession,” said Makuei. “The rebels have never conceded in anyway. But the government has been conceding all this time up to the last minute. So, there is no way issues of sovereignty can be compromised,”
He called on the international community to pressure the rebels to compromise.
“This time it is up to the international community to press on the rebels to ensure that they also concede on their demands,” said Makuei. “We expect the rebels to come to their senses so that they talk peace so that we stop these killings we stop this violations, which they have been constantly doing so that we bring peace to our people so that our people live in peace and harmony. This is the most important thing.”
Makuei blamed the rebels for the last adjournment of the negotiations. He said the reasons given for their decision to boycott the last round of talks was against the provisions of the protocols of the agreement signed between President Salva Kiir and former vice president and rebel leader Riek Machar.
“Bearing that in mind, we call on the rebels to enter the next phase of the peace talks in good faith so that we bring peace to our people,” said Makuei. “The rebels, up to now, their positions are not clear. Last time they boycotted the talks because they did not want to sit with all the stakeholders. They demanded that the government should only sit with the rebels and the stakeholders should be consultants.”
The government accused the rebels of breaching a ceasefire agreement signed between Kiir and Machar after the rebels attacked Ayod town last week.
A rebel delegation failed to meet Ugandan officials as part of the peace negotiations after both groups attributed the failure to miscommunication.
The rebels insist Uganda withdraw troops from South Sudan as their main demand to ending the conflict at the peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia mediated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.
But information minister Makuei disagreed, saying the administration in Juba is not going to compromise the country’s sovereignty by calling on Uganda to withdraw its troops.
“These are issues of sovereignty and it is unquestionable. There is nowhere in the world where a rebel group will dictate [to a] government and say that this should be done so we do this,” said Makuei.
Clottey interview with Michael Makuei, South Sudan information minister