Africa’s eight-country Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is attempting to bring closer South Sudan’s warring factions in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for another round of peace talks. The talks slated for May 2nd and 3rd aim to ‘take stock of the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan and challenges and the way forward.’
The meeting, convened by IGAD’s Special Envoy Ismail Wais, was intended to bring together South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar, but only representatives of the two sides appeared in Ethiopia on Thursday.
IGAD stated the delegations are expected to develop a clear roadmap for the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) as well as the pending tasks of the agreement.
Michael Makuei, South Sudan’s Information Minister, told reporters the latest round of meetings is just a “consultative meeting’ and that he expects the two sides to ‘sit together as South Sudanese and sort out issues.”
On his part, Phot Kang Chol, a senior member of the opposition group, stated Riek Machar’s camp has presented their position both to the international community and to mediators.
“There are some key issues that are not implemented yet according to the matrix of the revised peace agreement. And we have proposed a timeline for that. We need at least six months for us to achieve the unfinished business,” Phot said, adding the security arrangement must be completed before the formation of the core agreement.
“Also, the issue of the number of states is an issue. We expect this meeting to come up with a solution.”
In a statement, South Sudan’s Council of Churches stated delays in the agreement around security and enacting legislation essential to improving governance have led to public disagreement on whether the Transitional Government of National Unity should be formed on the May 12th, 2019.
“We are now at a critical stage of the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement,” the Churches stated. “Instead of finding a common strategy to work out the challenges in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement, the parties remain divided.”
In December 2013 South Sudan descended into a civil war between groups loyal to the President and his rival. Since then, several thousands of civilians have been killed and many others have fled the county, mainly to neighbouring states such as Uganda and Ethiopia.