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South Sudan Ex-Detainee: Warring Parties Don't Want Peace

Former SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum, shown here after his release from more than four months of detention for allegedly being part of a plot to oust President Salva Kiir in December last year, says if South Sudanese can't reach a peace deal, it should be imposed on them by the international community.

One of the four South Sudanese politicians who were detained for months after fighting broke out last year says the United Nations and African Union should impose a peace deal on South Sudan's warring sides if they cannot reach one themselves.

"If we fail to reach an agreement as South Sudanese, particularly the warring parties, then the IGAD countries should impose it," former SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum told South Sudan in Focus.

"If the two warring parties defy the IGAD region, then the IGAD countries should seek the support of our continent. And the last resort would be to seek international community intervention through the Security Council of the United Nations, because South Sudan cannot and should not be allowed to fall into chaos and widen the areas of disorder and chaos in this continent," he said.

Amum and 11 other high-ranking political figures were detained in December last year on suspicion of being part of what President Salva Kiir said was a failed coup bid that kicked off fighting that is still ongoing in parts of the country.

One of the politicians was released immediately and seven others were released after six weeks in detention.

But Amum and three others -- former Security Minister Oyay Deng Ajak, former Deputy Defense Minister Majok D'Agot Atem, and former envoy for southern Sudan to the United States, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth -- remained in jail, and in March were taken to court for hearings to determine if they had committed treason.

South Sudan cannot and should not be allowed to fall into chaos.
Former SPLM Secretary General and political detainee Pagan Amum

They were released at the end of April, with the government saying it had set them free to promote the peace in the country. Amum said the case against the four had fallen apart.

Amum has been attending the South Sudan peace talks, which are brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The latest round of talks ground to a halt last week. Information Minister Michael Makuei blamed the rebel side for causing the talks to falter. He said the rebels had reneged on an earlier agreement on the number of cabinet positions in the national government.

Amum agreed that the warring sides could not see eye to eye on the make-up of a transitional government of national unity. But, he added, the real reason the peace talks broke down again is because the warring parties "... are lacking the desire of seeing South Sudan return to peace."

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the  South Sudan In Focus radio program.
    Before joining VOA, John worked in Nairobi, Kenya where he established the first independent radio station (Sudan Radio Service) for the people of Sudan. He has covered several civil wars both in Sudan and South Sudan and has been engaged in the production of civic education materials for creating awareness about post conflict issues facing Sudanese and South Sudanese. John has interviewed South Sudan President Salva Kiir, former Vice President Riek Machar, Vice President Wani Igga, leader of Sudan’s Umma Party Sadiq Al Mahdi in addition to other senior United Nations and U.S government officials in South Sudan and Washington. His travels have taken him across to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, DRC Congo and parts East Africa where he reported on the South Sudanese diaspora and the challenges facing them.
    A South Sudanese national, John enjoys listening to music from all over the world, reads academic books, watches documentaries and listens to various radio stations on the internet.  You can follow John on Twitter at @Abusukon

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