Monday December 11, 2017

Rebels and IGAD mediators trade blames over collapse of peace talks

ADDIS ABABA – South Sudan rebels also known as the SPLM in Opposition and IGAD mediation team in Addis Ababa are at loggerheads over who to blame for the collapse of peace talks that was supposed to fully resume last friday. 
The IGAD mediation team put out a statement this morning blaming the rebels for having backtracked from the agreement they signed with the government on May the 9th. The “Multi-stakeholder roundtable talks” as its called in the Ethiopian capital was meant to bring out SPLM in Opposition, Government of South Sudan, former detainees and civil society together in a roundtable to iron out modalities for transitional government and formation of government of national unity.
The SPLM in opposition didn’t show up last friday in protest of what they believed as ignorance on mediators part for not taking rebels demand into consideration. The rebels demanded that civil society groups who fled the country in fear of prosecution after the breakout of the war in South Sudan be included in the peace talks. They demanded that those civil society groups who ran away because of the crisis are the only victims whose presence is needed to provide a viable ground nationwide reconciliation. 
IGAD negotiators however thought that the demand is a delayment in rebels part to prolong the negotiation. 
“The SPLM/A in opposition failed to attend the multi-stakeholders roundtable negotiations. This is in contradiction to the 9 May 2014 agreement as well as the 10 June 2014 communique which provides for the inclusion and participation of other stakeholders in the negotiations for a new political dispensation in South Sudan including arrangements for transitional government of national unity.” – The IGAD press statement partly reads. 
The SPLM in Opposition viewed IGAD’s statement as an accusation that gives impression on them as obstacles to the peace talks. The office of the spokesperson of the SPLM in Opposition, Mr Mabior Garang de Mabior put out the group’s reaction to the IGAD mediation’s statement:
“…It looks as if the mediation has backtracked from the April 28th Agenda and Framework, and a new Framework, not agreed upon is being imposed on the warring parties. The SPLM/A has officially expressed its dissatisfaction to the office of the Special Envoys on South Sudan, regarding the flawed nature of the selection of stakeholders. The selection process didn’t put into account those displaced by the conflict in the UNMISS camps, the neighbouring countries and in Diaspora. The SPLM/A fears that the mediation undermined inclusivity by presenting government sponsored institutions as credible South Sudanese civil society Organisations.” – The Spokesperson’s statement reads. 
The group also believed that the 9th May and 10th june communique recognise only negotiations between two warring parties and an inclusive civil society. They decried IGAD’s modalities of roundtable talks saying it was not mentioned in the two communique. 
Moreover, the rebels group also said that the peace talks shouldn’t have been adjourned as “this will unnecessarily prolong the war” if the 60 days proposed by the IGAD is bypassed. 
“The SPLM/A finds this position taken by the IGAD mediation as unfortunate and derailing the peace process that we have painstakingly evolved up to this point” – the group said.
IGAD mediators postponed the peace talks to July to allow consultations with the SPLM in Opposition and other stakeholders in the peace talks.
The Upper Nile Times
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