Accessibility links

Breaking News

South Sudan Peace Talks Hit Turbulence on First Day

The mediation team for South Sudan, IGAD-Plus, meets in Addis Ababa to hammer out details of a compromise peace deal for the young nation.
The mediation team for South Sudan, IGAD-Plus, meets in Addis Ababa to hammer out details of a compromise peace deal for the young nation.

South Sudan's warring sides got down to the tough business of negotiating a power-sharing and peace deal Friday, as the IGAD-led talks to end 20 months of fighting resumed in Addis Ababa.

But the talks appeared to hit some bumps in the road as both the government and armed opposition demanded bigger slices of power in a transitional government than what the mediating team has offered.

Power-sharing ratios

A source at the talks, who asked not to be named, said the government asked that it be given 70 percent of seats and portfolios in the proposed transitional government, that the armed opposition group led by former vice president Riek Machar be given 20 percent and other political parties 10 percent.

Machar's SPLM-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), meanwhile, asked for the opposite -- 70 percent for itself, 20 percent for the government and the remainder going to other opposition parties.

South Sudan in Focus has not been able to independently confirm this information.

Neither proposal is in line with what the international mediation team, led by East African bloc IGAD, is proposing. After the last round of peace talks for South Sudan failed back in March, IGAD drafted a compromise agreement that proposed that the government should have 53 percent of ministerial portfolios in a transitional government, the SPLM-IO should have 33 percent, and former political detainees and other political parties should share 14 percent between them.

IGAD's final draft of the compromise deal was handed over to representatives of the government, SPLM-IO and the former detainees in Addis Ababa last month.

Former detainees

In another twist at the talks in Addis Ababa, government negotiators said Friday they no longer consider the former detainees to be a separate negotiating party because they have been reincorporated into the government.

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei, who is also the government spokesman at the talks, said he is surprised that the former detainees are even sitting at the negotiating table.

"It is rather strange that they have now come to claim that they are not part and parcel of the government, but they continue to stand as an entity," Makuei said.

"In the government position, we have deleted the list of the FDs (former detainees) from those who will be participating in the (power-sharing) ratios. Not only that, but we don't even recognize their presence at the peace talks as an entity," he said.

The warring sides have until August 17 - a deadline set by the mediators - to sort out their differences and sign a deal to end a conflict that has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million people.

IGAD told South Sudan in Focus in an email that it is optimistic that the warring sides will meet the deadline.