Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Peace Eludes South Sudan as Rivals Hold Talks - The New York Times

NAIROBI, Kenya — Even as South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, and his longtime rival, the rebel leader Riek Machar, met here at the behest of Kenya’s president to end South Sudan’s civil war, Mr. Machar’s forces captured the strategic city of Malakal.
“My two brothers held five hours of face-to-face talks last night, which is important to build confidence and trust between them, in order to cement a viable path of peace,” the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a statement.
The talks have yet to produce a breakthrough, though “progress is being made,” according to Mabior Garang, a spokesman for the rebels. Mr. Garang also confirmed that on Saturday evening, rebel forces seized control of Malakal, an important oil center and the capital of Unity State. Malakal has changed hands several times during the conflict.
A South Sudanese military spokesman, Philip Aguer, could not be reached for comment.

A civil war has been raging in South Sudan since fighting erupted in December 2013 between forces loyal to Mr. Kiir and rebels allied with Mr. Machar, his former vice president. Tens of thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the fighting, and about two million have been displaced.
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, which is made up of East African countries and has served as a mediator in talks at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week put forward a new “compromise” proposal to move the talks forward. The proposal involves security and power-sharing arrangements.
As part of Mr. Kenyatta’s peacemaking efforts, a group of former political detainees who had gone into exile in Kenya have returned to Juba and been reintegrated into the ruling party, including Pagan Amum, who was reinstated as secretary general
On Wednesday, the United States put forward a proposal at the United Nations Security Council that called for sanctions against six top military leaders from the warring parties, three from each side.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

South Sudan’s Latest Talks Begin in Ethiopia

FILE - Seyoum Mesfin, Chairman of IGAD Special Envoys to South Sudan, gives remarks at the launch of the Multi-stakeholder Roundtable Negotiations on June 16, 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
FILE - Seyoum Mesfin, Chairman of IGAD Special Envoys to South Sudan, gives remarks at the launch of the Multi-stakeholder Roundtable Negotiations on June 16, 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Marthe van der Wolf

South Sudan’s negotiators are once again gathering in Ethiopia to try to solve the 18 month old conflict dividing the world’s youngest country. The warring factions only have one month left to form an internationally-mandated power-sharing government.
Delegations from South Sudan’s government, the rebel opposition and the former detainees are meeting to find a solution to the crisis sparked a year and a half ago when President Salva Kiir had a political fallout with his former deputy, Riek Machar.
South Sudan is expected to form a transitional government of unity by July 9 – the country’s fourth anniversary of independence. But with just one month to go, it is not clear this deadline will be met.
The last round of talks ended in early March without any kind of agreement and the current agenda has to be finalized.
Monday’s talks amounted to consultations on ways forward and a new negotiating mechanism also known as ‘IGAD Plus’. IGAD is the East African Bloc that has been mediating talks throughout the conflict.IGAD Plus would now include the African Union, European Union, Britain, the United States, Norway and China as new mediators.
Lead mediator, Seyoum Mesfin of IGAD, underscored at the last round of talks that the fighting parties must not fail to find a lasting peaceful solution:
“The whole world is watching the conflict in South Sudan. And call on IGAD, the AU and the United Nations and all international partners to join us in calling for an end to this conflict now.”
Several cease-fire agreements have been signed and broken since January 2014.UN Security Council approving sanctions also failed to stop the hostilities.
Fighting has flared ahead of these talks especially in the major oil-rich Unity State.
Thousands have died, more than two million displaced - 300,000 people alone have taken refuge in Ethiopia.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top diplomats from Ethiopia and Kenya meet S Sudan's President Kiir | Radio Tamazuj

Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom and Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed visited South Sudan's capital Juba recently and met President Salva Kiir in a bid to halt fighting in the young country.
According to a diplomatic source, the meeting reportedly focused on the mediation by IGAD, a regional bloc which had led peace talks for more than a year until negotiations fell apart in March of this year, Anadolu Agency reported. According to the diplomatic source, the two neighbouring countries are exerting maximum efforts to prevent the total collapse of the peace negotiations between the government and the opposition group.
IGAD failed to call for a round of talks scheduled to take place in last April, according to the source.
The same source said the meeting which brought together two Foreign Affairs Ministers of Kenya, Ethiopia and President Kiir in the presence of South Sudan Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin focused on the prospect of discussing the ongoing conflict in South Sudan at an extraordinary summit in Johannesburg, South Africa on the sidelines of the African Summit which will be held on 14 June.
Kenya urges greater G10 role
Meanwhile, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta recently met with members of the SPLM-G10, a group of former political prisoners who were leading members of the SPLM party and are participating as a third group in the negotiations between President Salva Kiir's SPLM and former vice president Riek Machar's SPLM-In Opposition.
Kenyatta said that the G10 should play an increased role in the peace talks and that the IGAD process should merge with a parallel set of talks between the three SPLM factions which has been taking place in Arusha, Tanzania.
Photo: Kenya's foreign minister Amina Mohamed