October 5, 2014
(JUBA) –The postponement of South Sudan peace talks in neighbouring Ethiopia has drawn different reactions among South Sudanese and government officials
Negotiations between rebel and government delegations, which are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have ben ongoing since conflict erupted more than nine months ago, but have so far failed to yield a lasting political settlement.
“I have always said before that the leadership, the party and everybody else in the country are for peace and we have never left the peace forum,” foreign affairs minister Barnaba Benjamin Marial told Sudan Tribune on Sunday from Cairo.
Marial described his visit as “fruitful”, saying Egyptian authorities had openly expressed their support for president Salva Kiir as the legitimate leader of the country.
He said he would meet with Kiir after his return to the capital, Juba, to discuss the outcome of his visit and the progress of peace talks.
Meanwhile, the minister of information and government delegation spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, said on Sunday that peace talks have been postponed at the request of the mediation team to allow for further consultation over the main sticking points.
“I would like to inform and let our people – who have been expecting our return with the peace, because we told them last time that based on the directive of the president and the leadership of the country, and the desire of our people, that we will this time around return with [a] peace agreement to end the conflict – know that the IGAD mediation team has decided to suspend this round of peace talks,” Lueth said in a statement broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Sunday.
He said that the both parties would take part in consultations over executive powers at the request of IGAD.
The heads of state and government from across the region are also expected to hold an extraordinary meeting over the matter, after which the to the protocol of agreed principles, which are being used as the basis of negotiations, will be either confirmed or adjusted.
Juba-based political commentator Anthony Sebit told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that achieving consensus among conflicting parties is always a difficult process, particularly “when individual interest overrides the national desire”.
“I should say that I and the many of people of South Sudan are not surprised of this decision by the mediation team because they have experienced difficulties in the way the talks were moving, especially on the issue of executive powers for the post of prime minister and governance,” said Sebit.
He said unofficial information from civil society representatives in Ethiopia had advised that the South Sudanese government and the country’s rebel faction had agreed in principle on the adoption of a federal style of governance.
We are informally told by our colleagues in Ethiopia, (civil society members) that the government and the rebels have agreed on principle to adopt federalism as the system of governance but this has not been officially assented.
However, there has yet to be any formal announcement on the agreement.