Friday, March 27, 2015
Sunday, March 15, 2015
South Sudan - future talks should be moved to Kenya from Ethiopia after mediators failed to convince the warring parties
March 13, 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudan on Friday downplayed reports claiming one of its officials opposed Sudan’s involvement in the peace process and the choice of Ethiopia as venue for the ongoing negotiations.
- An extraordinary session of the IGAD heads of states meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 10 June 2014 (IGAD photo)
The South Sudanese deputy envoy to Kenya, James Pitia Morgan, said future talks should be moved to Kenya from Ethiopia after mediators failed to convince the warring parties on a deal last week.
He said involving Ethiopia and Sudan was “domineering” the peace talks.
“The next round of peace talks should be out of Ethiopia and Sudan should be excluded from being a mediator, since it controls, trains and arms the rebels,” Pitia was quoted saying.
But South Sudan’s foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin said Sudan was participating in the mediation on the basis of being an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member state.
It was the assembly of the regional bloc, which decided on the composition of the mediation team when conflict erupted, stressed Marial.
South Sudan president, Salva Kiir and rebel leader, Riek Machar failed to resolve the contentious issues in the peace process after days of direct negotiations in Ethiopia.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Addis Ababa (AFP) - South Sudan's warring leaders failed to reach a deal to end more than a year of civil war, mediators said, with the latest collapse in peace talks paving the way for possible sanctions.
- South Sudan talks in stalemate, deadline for deal extended AFP
- U.N. chief disappointed by failure of South Sudan peace talks Reuters
- South Sudan rivals open 'final' peace talks AFP
- South Sudan peace talks break up, mediator berates leaders Reuters
- South Sudan peace talks break up without deal Reuters
Ethiopia's prime minister said South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar missed a deadline to reach a peace agreement by midnight Thursday, and that further talks on Friday "did not produce the necessary breakthrough."
"This is unacceptable, both morally and politically," Hailemariam Desalegn said in the statement issued by the east African regional bloc IGAD, which has been trying to mediate a peace deal.
Hailemariam also gave IGAD's harshest criticism yet of Kiir and his former deputy Machar, whose personal feud has exploded into ethnic massacres, gang rapes and the forced displacement of civilians, pushing the country to the brink of famine.
"Continuing a war flagrantly disregards the interests of you, the people," he said, addressing the people of South Sudan, whose country only gained independence from Khartoum in 2011 after a long, bitter war.
"It is an abdication of the most sacred duty leaders have to you, their people: to deliver peace, prosperity and stability," the Ethiopian premier said of Kiir and Machar, both of who have been implicated in atrocities.
"I asked them to be courageous in offering compromises and alternatives, rather than only reiterating old positions.... Unfortunately, as the missed deadline shows, our pleas have not been heeded."
The US condemned on Friday a lack of "political leadership" to resolve South Sudan's civil war.
US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kiir and Machar had "again failed the people of South Sudan by refusing to make the compromises necessary for peace".
"We strongly condemn the lack of political leadership to resolve this man-made conflict that has exacted a terrible cost over the past nearly 15 months," Harf said in a statement.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "profoundly disappointed" with the failure to reach a peace deal.
South Sudan's civil war started in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar, who had been sacked as vice president, of attempting a coup.Ban said the leaders failed "to display statesmanship" but he nevertheless called "for the continuation of the negotiations."
More than two dozen armed groups -- including government soldiers and allied militia backed by Ugandan soldiers on one side, and a range of rebel factions on the other -- have been battling it out since.
Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict, two million have been uprooted and 2.5 million are in desperate need of food aid.
- More robust approach -
In a bid to force a deal, the United Nations this week passed a resolution threatening sanctions against individuals deemed to be undermining peace efforts.
Possible targets include leaders or officials who obstruct peace talks, impede humanitarian aid deliveries, recruit child soldiers or attack UN peacekeepers.
Acknowledging IGAD's failure to broker peace, Hailemariam said the "peace process must be reinvigorated and reformed".
"We will assist the parties to make the compromises that have so far eluded them. We will use all influence at our disposal to convince those that remain intransigent," he said, alluding to mounting calls for sanctions and an arms embargo.
According to diplomats close to the peace process -- which has so far cost at least 20 million euros ($21.7 million) and earned the peace delegates scorn for drawing out their stays in luxury hotels -- IGAD could call in the African Union, the 54-member pan-African bloc, in a bid to find a more robust approach.
A draft AU report on the conflict obtained by AFP has recommended South Sudan be handed over to internationally-mandated caretakers and its warring leaders barred from politics.
Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo led an AU probe and submitted a final version of the report in January, but AU officials had shelved it -- fearing its publication might undermine IGAD's peace efforts.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on those who disrupt efforts to restore peace in South Sudan, but it stopped short of barring the warring factions from buying more arms.
The resolution passed as the rival factions faced a Thursday deadline for reaching a deal in peace talks in Ethiopia, and as South Sudan’s army, under mounting pressure, agreed to investigate allegations that a pro-government militia had abducted dozens of children.
Fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former vice president, Riek Machar, plunged South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, into a civil war in December 2013 that has killed tens of thousands, displaced two million civilians and left a trail of rapes and executions.
The Council’s resolution does not immediately impose sanctions. Rather, it sets up a panel to identify people who are responsible for undermining the peace efforts, including by recruiting child soldiers and committing serious human rights abuses. It proposes travel bans and an asset freeze for those people, and it offers the possibility of an arms embargo further down the road.
The United States drafted the measure. China, which traditionally shies away from punitive measures like sanctions, voted in favor of it. China has significant oil investments in the country.
South Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Francis Deng, criticized the timing of the measure, which he called “counterproductive” at a time when peace negotiations were underway. “What the president and government of South Sudan need is encouragement, not condemnation,” Mr. Deng said.
The Council measure passed just hours after the chief of South Sudan’s army announced an investigation into allegations that a pro-government militia had abducted dozens of schoolchildren. The United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef, initially reported that 89 children, some as young as 13, had been abducted from a village in Upper Nile State.
The agency later revised the figure and said hundreds might have been taken and forced to join a pro-government militia led by Johnson Oloni. It appealed to the government to gain their released.
In a statement Tuesday, Col. Philip Aguer, the spokesman for South Sudan’s army, known as the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army, said his forces were committed to being “child free” and would look into the allegations.
Unicef said it believed that more than 12,000 South Sudanese children had been recruited into armed groups since the conflict began.
Those who conscript children to fight could face targeted sanctions, according to the Council’s resolution. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, described the measure as a way to press the rival leaders to make a deal. Directing her remarks to the South Sudanese factions, she said, “You will be held to account now, as we urge you to compromise to reach an agreement, and later, when you are considering whether to follow through on its terms.”
The Chinese envoy, Liu Jieyi, called on the two sides to “stop fighting immediately.” Beijing has sent the first of what is to be a full infantry battalion for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
The monitoring group Human Rights Watch said an arms embargo should have been included in the resolution. “Those who are responsible for serious human rights violations should now be named and slapped with a travel ban and asset freeze, and countries or corporations that arm them should be exposed,” said Philippe Bolopion, the group’s United Nations director.