27 February 2014

South Sudan: Exiled Opposition Party Asks to Join Peace Talks

Addis Ababa — An exiled South Sudanese opposition political organisation has requested to participate on the ongoing IGAD-mediated peace talks aimed at end the conflict and political crisis in South Sudan.

General Biel Torkech Rambang, chairman of South Sudan United Democratic Alliances (SSUDA) on Thursday told Sudan Tribune that his party has officially asked IGAD - an East African regional body - for them to be able to participate.

Rambang said he hoped his party could help in bringing lasting peace, for people of South Sudan, "based on the rule of law through check and balance, once and for all".

The new phase of peace talks on political and national reconciliation has now put on table for discussions on the formation of an interim government, which both factions have accepted in principle.

The opposition official said his party backs the formation of an interim government as proposed by IGAD mediators.

He said the formation of an interim government is the "easiest" cheapest and "the best" way to end the conflict in world's youngest nation which broke out in mid-December after an alleged coup attempt, allegedly masterminded by former vice president Riek Machar.

Machar has denied staging coup to over throw President Salva Kiir's SPLM government but since fleeing Juba has claimed control of the defected army units and armed civilians who are fighting the South Sudanese army.

When asked if his party would join the rebels, Rambang said his party has no intention to join the SPLM-in-Opposition or to take sides at the peace talks. However, if given the opportunity it will participate as a separate bloc to contribute on ways of bringing durable solution to the crises.

There are already three groups at the talks. As well as the government and rebel delegation a group of senior SPLM politicians who were arrested in relation to the alleged coup attempt but then released in order for them to join the talks in Addis Ababa.

All those arrested deny that there was any coup attempt and accuse Kiir of using the fighting amongst soldiers in Juba to try and silence his crtics.

South Sudan United Democratic Alliances

Based in neighboring Ethiopia, SSUDA was established in 2004, a year before the signing of Comprehensive Peace agreement (CPA) in 2005, by what the group says were dedicated South Sudanese volunteers, who became disgruntled by SPLM's style of leadership.

The group says it is committed to bring transparent leadership, democratic governance and rule of law; where individual's rights are respected, preserved and protected.

"Any country ruled by a man; instead of rule of law, cannot last for long without internal and external crisis as well, absolute power can corrupt any human being" the group said.

The opposition group said that the current peace process to avoid another superficial peace agreements, like the 2005 deal which secured South Sudan's right to secede from Sudan.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was exclusively between the SPLM and Sudan's ruling NCP, did not guarantee a long-term solution to South Sudan's chronic problems.

The current peace talks in Ethiopia must be inclusive, the opposition group said .

The first round talks secured a cease fire agreement on 23 January, which both sides have violated. The second round peace talks have yet to resume although they were initially scheduled to resume two weeks ago.

Ugandan military intervention in South Sudan and failure of south Sudan government to release the four remaining senior political prisoners are blamed for holding up the peace talks.

Ethiopian state television yesterday reported that Addis Ababa's foreign minister, Tedros Adhanom has travelled to Juba where he met President Salva Kiir to further consult on ways of facilitating the new phase of negotiations and on ending the conflict which has killed an estimated 10,000 people and forced 171,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries.

The United Nations estimate that 710,600 people have been displaced within South Sudan.

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