ADDIS ABABA - U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, said Thursday the expanded IGAD-Plus mediation team is determined that a peace deal for South Sudan will be signed by the deadline, in less than four weeks.
“IGAD-Plus are united in their determination to see that the compromise agreement is signed by August 17th," Booth said.
"Whether the leaders of South Sudan, the leaders who will come to the negotiations will achieve that, is up to them. But we certainly urge them to take this opportunity to end this long era of suffering of the people of South Sudan,” Booth added.
Booth was speaking in Addis Ababa, shortly after IGAD announced that IGAD-Plus mediators have completed work on a compromise agreement for South Sudan.
Handover on Friday
The compromise agreement will be handed over to negotiators for the South Sudan government, Riek Machar's armed opposition group, and representatives of former political detainees on Friday in Addis Ababa.
IGAD said in a statement that the agreement "reflects the ideas, concerns, and interests of the South Sudanese parties and stakeholders."
"It responds to the demands of the South Sudanese people for an inclusive Transitional Government of National Unity that will reform the security sector and issues of economic governance and reform, address justice, accountability and national reconciliation, and finalize a permanent constitution before leading the country to elections," the statement said.
Booth noted that the transitional government called for in the agreement "is not the permanent government and is not a perfect government" but was designed by IGAD-Plus to "enable South Sudanese to determine their own future, what type of government they want... how they want their resources utilized and how they want to deal with the scars and wounds of the past."
Ending the people's suffering
He said the compromise agreement will be made public tomorrow, and urged South Sudanese from all walks to life to consult it on IGAD's website.
"After all, this is a negotiation that is about trying to end the suffering of the people of South Sudan," Booth said.
Since South Sudan erupted in violence on December 15, 2013, the warring sides have signed at least nine agreements to end the fighting. But none of the deals have stuck, and in the 19 months since the conflict began, at least 10,000 people have been killed, around 2.5 million have been forced from their homes, and nearly five million are facing hunger.
IGAD has been trying for 18 months to broker peace in South Sudan.
IGAD-Plus was formed last month to try to move the peace process forward after what was supposed to be the last chance for the warring sides to strike a deal to end the fighting sputtered to a halt in March.
IGAD-Plus includes the seven member states of IGAD - Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda - plus the United States and its partners in the troika for South Sudan, the United Kingdom and Norway; the United Nations, African Union, European Union, China, and five nations representing the five regions of Africa.