19 January 2014

East Africa: IGAD Leaders to Meet in Juba On Thursday - Sudanese Diplomat

Khartoum — The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders including president Omer al-Bashir will meet in the South Sudan's capital Juba on Thursday to discuss the ongoing crisis in the new nation and to encourage a negotiated settlement.

According to the Sudanese ambassador to South Sudan, Mutrif Sideeq, Thursday summit aims to push towards a peaceful end to the conflict which started on 15 December last year. In statement to Khartoum based Ashorooq TV, he further said that IGAD foreign ministers will gather on Wednesday, a day before the meeting.

The Sudanese diplomat further disclosed that the three-member mediation panel arrived to Juba on Sunday evening in a bid to secure the release of the political detainees, as the signing of a cessation of hostilities seems imminent.

Reliable sources said the two negotiating teams in Addis Ababa agreed on three draft agreements that to be signed immediately after the release of the 11 detainees. The mediators hope to persuade president Salva Kiir to free them without trial as he accuse his opponents of fomenting a coup d'état.

The three mediators propose that Juba release the political detainees under the responsibility of the East African regional body, IGAD.

The sources further said the two parties still disagree on how to identify the Ugandan troops in the agreements (foreign allies or allies only), underlining that the UPDF are there on a request by the South Sudanese government.

Rebels say the Ugandan role, may hamper IGAD efforts to broker a peaceful settlement to the one-month conflict in South Sudan, as Uganda is a member of the IGAD body.

The rebel leader Riek Machar says the detainees, including Pagan Amum, Deng Alor and Oyai Deng Ajak, will negotiate with the government delegation a political agreement to end the conflict.

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