Negotiators Race Against Time to Secure South Sudan Peace Deal

1389 Views Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

In short
“This session of negotiations must make progress; we must end the war," chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin stated. He said that if war continues "it will have serious consequences" and added: "Those that insist on continued fighting must be held accountable”.

Negotiators are working vigorously to beat the August 10th Deadline set to agree on a transitional government for South Sudan and implement a ceasefire.

They have also succeeded in having an all-inclusive team taking part in the talks that resumed yesterday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The meeting's key agenda is to finalize and sign a previously agreed to cease-fire deal. The two sides agreed to finalize their agreement by August 10th.

Peace talks have been on and off for months between the government and rebels loyal to the former vice president Dr Riek Marchar. The last round of talks stalled in June after a boycott by the ‘rebel’ negotiating team.

At that time, the rebels explained that their boycott was in protest of the manner in which the non-government participants were selected for talks, including SPLM former detainees, other political parties, civil society and faith-based organizations.

"Last time talks were called off because the combatants couldn't agree to a formula for inclusivity that would allow civil society and religious leaders to participate in the talks. Even as the mediators' deadline approaches and a man-made famine looms, the principle of inclusivity must remain a central element of the process," said Enough Project analyst Akshaya Kumar. "Another backroom deal is not what South Sudan needs."

The participating delegations now include: Government (members of the SPLM-Juba faction), armed opposition-(SPLM-in-Opposition), Religious leaders, civil society, opposition parties, Political Parties Leadership Forum and the SPLM-Leaders faction, also known as ‘Former Detainees’.

During the opening session, at the resumption of talks, the facilitator, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), reminded both warring parties that it was ready to take measures against them if no progress is made.

“This session of negotiations must make progress; we must end the war," chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin stated. He said that if war continues "it will have serious consequences" and added: "Those that insist on continued fighting must be held accountable”.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir has already directed his delegation to go to the talks and come back with peace, according to a post on the government Twitter feed.

Regional governments and others must ensure that the latest talks yield meaningful results and that both parties lay down their weapons, said Oxfam's South Sudan director, Tariq Riebl. Riebl also said a roadmap that leads to a transitional government is also needed.

The U.N. Security Council should be prepared to impose "deep and biting" targeted sanctions against key officials on both sides of the conflict "who are undermining the talks," said advocacy group Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast.
 
Global aid leaders have warned that hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan face severe hunger because of the fighting. More than 1 million people fled their homes after the fighting broke out, and many families were not able to plant crops during the spring planting season.