South Sudan: IGAD Leaders Considering Power Sharing to End S. Sudan Crisis

Photo: Hailemichael Gebrekrstos/UN
During the height of the fighting in Bor, civilians sought refuge at a compound of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

Nairobi — Leaders from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are considering the release of political prisoners and a power sharing deal as a possible solution to South Sudan's political crisis.

"There is a strong desire to end the violence and leaders have seen this is a political problem which can be solved if everyone is brought on board," a source close to the ongoing discussions in Nairobi told Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper.

On Thursday, Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn visited the 11 detained senior political leaders accused of having a hand in what the government said was a failed coup attempt, two weeks ago.

Violence broke out on 15 December between rival factions within the national army - the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

The United Nations says more than 500 people were killed in the violence and over 40,000 displaced. The world body said is urgently requires $166m to address the needs of those affected by the conflict.

IGAD leaders at the summit in Nairobi have meanwhile condemned any attempts to seize power by force in South Sudan.

"We in IGAD will not accept the constitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government in South Sudan," said Kenyatta, also chair of the East African Community (EAC).

South Sudan government, on Friday, said its forces had retaken Upper Nile state from anti-government elements loyal to former vice-president, Riek Machar.

In a show of progress in talks being brokered by regional leaders, president Salva Kiir was on Friday reported to have accepted "immediate cessation of hostilities."

There was, until now, no response from Machar, Kiir's chief protagonist accused of planning the failed coup attempt. Machar has, however, denied the accusation.

The IGAD leaders, in a statement, called upon "Dr Riek Machar and other parties to make similar commitments."

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