South Sudanese information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth attends a press conference in Addis Ababa, Jan. 5, 2014.
South Sudanese information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth attends a press conference in Addis Ababa, Jan. 5, 2014.

JUBA - South Sudan rejected a proposal by IGAD, the regional bloc leading peace talks, to include members of the troika as mediators in the next round of talks.

IGAD announced this month that it plans to expand the mediation team to include the troika - the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom - as well as representatives from the European Union, China, the United Nations, and from around Africa.

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei told reporters at a news conference Monday if there are troika officials at the negotiating table when the talks resume, Juba will raise objections.

"They are the very people who demanded that sanctions must be passed against the government of South Sudan. They have already decided to punish us," he said. "Are they neutral to come and mediate again? These people, whether you call it troika or the U.N., these are people who have lost credibility.”

The United States sponsored a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a sanctions regime to be set up for South Sudan. The resolution, which was passed unanimously early this month, opens the way for the U.N. to impose targeted sanctions against "senior individuals" who are seen to be blocking peace in South Sudan. It does not specifically mention the government.

Makuei has been the spokesman for the government delegation at the IGAD-led peace talks, which have been running for nearly 15 months.

Last week, the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, told reporters in Juba that IGAD invited members of the international community to be part of the talks to help move the peace process forward.

The United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom have supported the peace process since it began in January last year. In addition to providing funds for the travel and accommodation of delegates, troika officials have participated as observers at the talks. Makuei said their role should be to observe, not mediate.

The most recent round of peace talks ended early this month, without a deal to end the fighting that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced nearly two million people. IGAD said before those talks started that they were the last chance for peace in South Sudan.