By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
October 1, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The opposition faction of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement has deplored statements made by South Sudan’s minister for information and public broadcasting in regard to the peace process.
Micheal Makuei Lueth told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program on Tuesday that rebel forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar were seeking to change the venue of talks currently taking place in Ethiopia.
He also claimed the SPLM in Opposition wanted Seyoum Mesfin, the chief mediator of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is leading peace negotiations, replaced.
According to the rebel faction , the minister alleged that the former Ethiopian foreign minister was “being influenced by others”, naming the Troika members of the US, UK and Norway.
He further accused the Troika member states of trying to force “regime change” and being “responsible for the beginning of the crisis” in South Sudan.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the opposition faction said it was deeply concerned by the latest statements made by the minister.
“The SPLM/SPLA [in Opposition], though deeply shocked by these statements, is not surprised by this lack of seriousness from the other party to the conflict (the South Sudanese government), as this is part of their modus operandi,” said the statement signed by Mabior Garang de Mabior, chairperson of the rebel faction’s national committee for information and public relations.
The group has also accused the government of deliberately delaying the ongoing peace process aimed at finding a durable political settlement to the more than nine-month-old crisis.
It said such tactics were an indication that the government is not serious about reaching a peace deal and is an abuse of the goodwill shown by IGAD, the AU and Troika states.
The rebel statement said that since January the South Sudanese government ““has continuously been undermining the peace process in Ethiopia, and this is just the latest delaying tactic in a strategy to ensure the failure of the peace process”.
Moving the peace talks from Ethiopia, the group said would cause unnecessary delays to negotiations and only prolong the suffering of the people of South Sudan.
The opposition group expressed its full confidence in the IGAD-led peace process in Ethiopia and in the leadership of the current chief negotiator.
It has called on the international community to condemn the latest actions of the government and exert further pressure against Juba to continue with negotiations in good faith.
Government and rebel forces have been engaged in an armed struggle since mid-December last year after an internal dispute within the SPLM turned violent, reigniting tribal tensions across the country.